After 15 years of serving as Southern York County schools' superintendent, Thomas Hensley announced his retirement at the school board meeting Thursday.
The board knew Hensley planned to leave at the end of the school year, he said in an interview Friday. Hensley's contract is up on June 30, and he will retire after that.
Hensley's announcement is "bittersweet," said assistant superintendent Sandra Lemmon.
"We are happy for him to move in next chapter of his life, but we are greatly saddened because he has made a significant difference in the district over the past 15 years," Lemmon said.
Hensley contributed a "great passion" for education to the district, and also incorporated the community in a unique way, said Wayne McCullough, the district's chief financial and operations officer. Hensley's involvement in numerous community groups helped to build up the school as a whole, McCullough said.
Hensley has also been instrumental in creating "The Southern Way," which describes a student-first mentality in the district. To Hensley, "every student counts," McCullough said.
"That culture has become pervasive over every aspect of everything we do," McCullough said.
Timing: Hensley chose to leave at the end of his contract at the end of June and said he plans to spend more time with his family. Hensley hopes to see his two grandchildren more often, one who is 2-1/2 years old and one who is 3 months old.
As the board moves forward to find a replacement in the coming months, Lemmon and McCullough said there will be certain characteristics the candidates need to have to fill Hensley's shoes well.
McCullough said Hensley is "just an outstanding communicator" and is always working to move the district forward, whether it be to improve the caliber of academics, band or another extracurricular program.
Lemmon said the person to follow Hensley will also have to mirror his vision of excellence for the district.
That excellence is something Hensley plans to continue for the rest of his tenure at Southern. He said his goal is to "keep high expectations for our district," and to be able to support teachers, administrators and students so everyone can finish the year well.
- Reach Nikelle Snader at firstname.lastname@example.org.