By Kim Lux
Local students and their families are gearing up for the school year and Dr. Michele Hartzell, the new superintendent with the North East School District, is equally excited for the new year.
Hartzell is an Erie native and said she is eager to bring her family home with her.
“I was born and raised in Erie,” she said. “I graduated from McDowell High School and received my Bachelor of Science in education from Edinboro University. I’m very excited to be back home. I have several relatives, including three brothers, who still live in the Erie area.
“I’m very familiar with North East,” Hartzell added. “Freeport Beach is where we vacation every year. It’s a wonderful community and I absolutely love it here.”
Before coming to NESD, Hartzell was the superintendent at Oswayo Valley School District.
She received her Master of Education in administration from Shippensburg University and both her Education Specialist in Leadership and doctoral degree in education administration from Georgia Southern University.
Hartzell moved to Georgia with her husband who was stationed in Savannah and spent about 16 years in the area before returning to Pennsylvania.
As an educator, Hartzell said she has several core values.
“My core values are faith, family, relationships and service,” she said. “I’m also a lifelong learner. I love learning.
“I love children. Every decision I make will be based on what’s best for all children,” Hartzell added. “I have a passion and a love for what I do. It doesn’t feel like work.”
In her spare time, Hartzell enjoys volunteering — especially with veterans’ organizations and charities.
“My father is a Korean War veteran; my husband was in the military and my one son is in the Marine Corps. He’s currently stationed over in Germany,” she said. “I think it’s so important to recognize the sacrifices our veterans have made to give us our freedoms and choices we have today.”
Hartzell is also a lifetime member of the VFW Post 8896 Auxiliary.
Hartzell added that while she is still transitioning into the role of superintendent, there are several things she hopes to accomplish this school year.
“Looking at this coming year, and the future, I’m hoping to expand the 1:1 technology initiative into the high school,” Hartzell said. “School safety is also a priority of mine.
“The schools have been working on curriculum for the past few years and my goal this year is to hopefully publish and create a curriculum link on our website,” she said.
Hartzell has already made some upgrades to the district’s website, https://nesd1.k12.pa.us/. For those who attend the district’s school board meetings, a link for supplemental materials was recently added.
“We already created a new link for the school board that provides all of the supplemental resources and materials,” she said. “That’s very important. We are trying to be very transparent.”
Hartzell added that as the new school year begins, parents should remain an integral part of the child’s education.
“Parents are our partners in education,” she said. “Keeping the lines of communication open between parents and teachers is very important. If parents have any questions or concerns they should be proactive and call the school.”
Hartzell’s youngest son will also be starting 10th grade at North East High School this year.
She and her husband, Shawn, have three sons Westin, Austin and Brandon.
Hartzell said she is also eager to become more engaged with the North East community.
“I love being part of a close community like this,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of North East and serving in the community.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be here and be back home,” Hartzell added. “I’ m very passionate about public education.”