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Quakertown superintendent slates retirement at end of school year


Quakertown Community School District Superintendent Dr. William E. Harner, a leader in education following a 20-year leadership career in the Army, announced Tuesday he will be retiring in June at the end of the school year.

“It was an honor and a privilege to be the educational leader for the Quakertown Community School District,” he said. “The academic success of our students and the professional growth and success of our employees are my passion. Making the world a much better place one student at a time is always at the forefront of my thinking.”

Harner has served in QCSD for nearly 10 years, helping transform the Upper Bucks district into a leading K-12 educational institution both in academics and the technology fields.

During his tenure, QCSD moved from unranked to being ranked seven years in a row with the US News & World Report’s America’s Best High School Silver Award. College readiness and the number of Advanced Placement course offerings more than doubled; SAT scores jumped 110 points by year four; and student participation in technical education increased by 20 percent.

Harner brought the three A’s to Quakertown in his strategic plan – transformation in academics, arts and athletics. He created a culture of trust through transparency and communication; wrote hundreds of blogs to the Quakertown community that included every aspect of student life to school district performance and budgetary data; conducted numerous town hall meetings, and involved parents and others in community committees that tackled tough district-level issues. A few of the initiatives include adding pre-k, full-day kindergarten, gifted curriculum, and expansion of world language opportunities. At the individual level, Harner has counseled and coached hundreds of students on their academic program and post-high school options, writing letters of recommendation for many.

While he will be leaving Quakertown, Harner said he is open to other possibilities, including educational and public policy positions at the local, state and federal levels. Following his retirement, he noted QCSD has “the leadership in place to take care of this district for the next 10 to 15 years. We have two incredibly qualified assistant superintendents (Nancianne Edwards and Dr. Lisa Hoffman) ready to take the reins.”

School Board President Jon Kern said “The strides that this district took under his leadership border on being unbelievable. His forward-thinking approach to building a team that exhibits camaraderie and a drive for excellence is second to none. Dr. Harner spearheaded an approach to break down silos that were in place across the various buildings and departments – an almost unheard of tactic in public school systems. Quakertown Community School District would not be in the good place it is today were it not for Dr. Harner.”

Harner was recently voted to the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators Board of Governors by the superintendents of Bucks County schools, and he was described by Pennsylvania education leaders as a highly experienced strategic innovator and a champion for children and public education.

His work has been recognized by the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg, which awarded him the Torch of Global Enlightenment Award for 2020. Harner was specifically recognized for exemplifying the ideals of inclusiveness, respect for diversity, multiculturalism and interfaith dialogue. Under his leadership, QCSD was honored by The Peace Center for implementing its diversity and inclusion program for elementary school students, “Celebrating Me, Celebrating You,” at a district-wide level. Harner was nationally recognized during his service in two previous school districts for gifted education and building comprehensive library programs.