Dr. Russell Greenholt of Conewago Valley School District (CVSD) never thought he would become a superintendent during his career in education.
He enjoyed the direct impact on students he had as a coach and as a teacher.
After 35 years in education, Greenholt recently announced he plans to retire from his post as CVSD superintendent in early January.
When talking with two seniors from the district’s student advisory council, Greenholt asked them how they felt about the changes made within the past four years.
“They told me ‘it was four years of change for the better,’ and they were proud to walk out of here as New Oxford High School graduates,” he said. “That is all I needed to hear.”
On Monday, the CVSD board accepted Greenholt’s retirement “with regret,” according to board President Keith Mummert.
“He has done a tremendous job,” Mummert said. “He really has transformed our district in so many ways.”
Mummert said this is the fourth superintendent hiring process in which he will participate.
The school board has advertised the opening and will take applications through late July with hopes of hiring someone in September, he said.
Greenholt’s goals for the district that he brought into the job are nearly complete, Mummert said.
From the Colonial Career and Technology Center to the Road 2 Relevance (R2R) Initiative, Greenholt “has done an excellent job for the district,” Mummert said.
“We are so sorry to see him retire but certainly wish him well,” Mummert said.
As superintendent for the past five years, Greenholt has focused on the 10-year R2R Initiative.
The district is in the fifth year of the program, which includes three pillars of “equity, relevancy, and technology,” according to Greenholt.
With equity, Greenholt said he wants to make sure all students have equal learning opportunities.
The relevancy component seeks to keep the curriculum and school offerings in line for students going into the next grade level, college, or the workforce, he said.
“If it’s not relevant, then what are we doing?” Greenholt said.
Technology is a huge piece of the initiative because of “the world we live in right now,” Greenholt added.
In the 2019-2020 school year, the district is rolling out iPads to high school students as part of this initiative. Middle school students are anticipated to get iPads in 2020-2021, then the intermediate school students in 2021-2022 and elementary students in 2022-2023, according to Greenholt.
The new Colonial Career and Technology Center, which is set to also begin this school year, was a branch from the initiative, Greenholt said.
“With kids going into the workforce, we needed to do a better job,” Greenholt said. “The facilities we have were becoming outdated and, dare I say, irrelevant and needed to be relevant.”
The district has already seen the new welding program signups draw in 163 male and female students just from New Oxford High School alone, according to Greenholt.
In 2020-2021, the Colonial Technology and Career Center will become a “satellite campus” for Adams County Tech Prep, Greenholt said.
“My desire is the next superintendent will carry on the initiatives we have established during my tenure, the Road 2 Relevance Initiative and the Colonial Career and Technology Center, and most importantly, the focus on students,” Greenholt said. “Whoever it is, I hope they see the students as the primary focus of their position. That was important to me. I can only hope that would be important to the next superintendent.”
‘Defined what I am
as an educator’
When Greenholt graduated high school, he had no intention of going to college.
He was in a family of 10 siblings.
Greenholt was “content with going into the workforce,” he said.
He started working for Edna P. Myers at her estate off Littlestown Pike in 1977 after graduating from high school.
When he was mowing her yard one day, she asked Greenholt what he was doing with his life.
Eventually, she told Greenholt she was going to pay for him to go to college.
“She didn’t have to do that, but she did. I am forever grateful for her giving me the opportunity and for taking a chance on me,” he said.
Once he picked a college, Greenholt almost studied forestry, but his mother convinced him to become a teacher. His mother saw how well he worked with his youngest brother, who has a learning disability, he said. He put a plan together, took a job on campus, and paid Myers back, he said.
The whole experience taught Greenholt to give people a chance and everyone has something in them.
“It defined what I am as an educator,” Greenholt said.
Greenholt has always made decisions based on what’s best for his students – as a superintendent, an assistant superintendent, a principal, a teacher or a coach, he said.
“I am grateful to the students and the district and the community for the trust that they have provided me with,” Greenholt said.
Local parents “trusted me to provide their children with a quality education and trusted me to keep their children safe. That has been important,” he added.
Greenholt spent 25 years of his career at Bermudian Springs School District, where he taught health education. He also served as an assistant coach for the high school football team for six years and as head coach of the team for a decade.
For four years, Greenholt was a principal at York Suburban School District.
When Greenholt heard of the opening for an assistant superintendent at his hometown district, he knew he had to apply for the CVSD job.
Greenholt landed the position and enjoyed serving in that role for two years before becoming CVSD superintendent.
“The students have a genuine appreciation for what we do for them and for that I’m grateful,” Greenholt said of CVSD and all districts where he has worked.
Greenholt said his retirement date is March 9, 2020, but his last day in the district will be in early January.
In his retirement, Greenholt hopes to spend more time with his family.
He will celebrate 40 years of marriage next May with his wife, Kathy, who has been supportive of every step of his educational career.
When he was a coach, Greenholt felt he missed some activities in which his children were involved.
“I regret that,” he said.
He looks forward to seeing his three daughters and three grandchildren more often.
Aside from his hobbies of woodworking and restoring a vehicle, Greenholt also plans to spend his retirement giving back to the communities where he spent the past 35 years.
“You might come around here and see me mowing grass,” Greenholt said.
Greenholt hopes to volunteer his time and work with students, as well.
“It feels like something I need to do,” he said.