About Us » Office of the Superintendent

Office of the Superintendent

August 2023

Who we are and what we become is largely dependent on four factors: our interests, our abilities, opportunities both given and created, and how we use our diverse portfolio of skills and experiences to continuously improve ourselves and make the world around us better.

No two individual journeys are ever the same, and therein lies the challenge for us as educators. Although we can never guarantee outcomes or promise results, our educational philosophy is to customize learning to meet children where they are in terms of interests and abilities and present ample opportunities to succeed (and even fail) in an effort to ultimately create lifelong learners, achievers, and difference-makers. Highlights range from an expanded Computer Science curriculum in the district’s elementary schools to the successful implementation of Personal Finance courses and career-readiness initiatives on the middle and high school levels.

The premise of “Educating the Whole Child” starts with our outstanding team of educators who invest their time, talents, and resources to customize education to meet each child’s needs. Penn-Trafford achieves this by continuously assessing each student’s strengths and areas of deficiency in each content area and then implementing on-time, on-target strategies to move them forward strategically. These data-informed instructional strategies may range from intense remedial interventions to innovative enrichment opportunities that promote next-level thinking. From an instructional standpoint, ours is a culture of continuous analysis, consistency, collaboration, and, most importantly, caring. How we do things is not the easy way, but it is the Penn-Trafford way, and it is our teachers who make it happen every day.

August 24th will mark the beginning of a new school year and, with it, all the challenges and opportunities that make education worthwhile. From a district perspective, we continue to identify and implement curricular updates according to the current PTSD Comprehensive Plan. Highlights range from an expanded computer coding curriculum in the district’s elementary school to the successful implementation of Personal Finance courses and career-readiness initiatives on the middle and high school levels. The district also continues to establish promising partnerships with the professional community to empower our Life Skills students to realize their full potential in society.

Penn-Trafford will continue to stay the course in 2023-24 as it pertains to instructional programming and curriculum. Our goal, as always, is to meet students where they are and then move them forward with customized learning opportunities that target their individual needs. As we continue to move out of the long shadow of COVID and reclaim educational “normalcy,” we see our Keystone Assessment performance steadily improving across the board. We are closing the gaps created by disruptions, but there is still much work to do. To assist these efforts, the district is pleased to announce that long-time PTSD employee Lew McCracken has been named to the newly created position of Curriculum Director. Mr. McCracken’s knowledge, experience, and dedication in structuring and sequencing curricula aligned to State Standards will significantly benefit our teachers and students for years to come.

PTSD is pleased to report the hiring of five new teachers, a psychologist, and a guidance counselor for the upcoming school year, and we salute the countless contributions of our retiring employees as they begin a new chapter in life.

On the financial front, the 2023-24 district budget calls for no increase in the existing millage rate despite a 3.7% increase in expenditures, which equates to roughly $2.3 million. The administration and Board of School Directors will continue to work throughout the fall to tighten our budgets. The 0 mil increase we were able to deliver for the current budget while maintaining the highest standards of educational programs and instruction is consistent with the Penn-Trafford School District’s mission of Effective, Efficient, Quality Education.

Prior to the beginning of the 2023- 24 school year, all district buildings were part of a safety assessment, and subsequent security updates and improvements have been made districtwide. In addition, each building now has a trained threat assessment team in place that will constantly monitor and update individual school safety plans consistent with Homeland Security guidelines. Penn-Trafford has also implemented “Safe2Say Something” protocols in grades 5-12 to prevent violence in our schools.

Interests. Abilities. Opportunities. Experience. These are the pieces that make up the whole of learning and of life. The Penn-Trafford School District will strive to offer students the support, guidance, and resources needed to become well-rounded learners, lifelong achievers, engaged citizens, and passionate leaders. Art, music, athletics, science, performing arts, community service, robotics, e-sports, and more - there is much to explore in 2023-24, both in the classroom and beyond. By meeting the needs of the “whole student,” we believe we are making a difference, one student at a time. We invite you to join us.


Dr. Matthew Harris

Superintendent of Schools