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Spring Grove Area School District will soon welcome one of its own as top administrator.

A district employee for more than 10 years as business manager and board secretary, George Ioannidis was chosen at the board's February meeting to succeed Superintendent David Renaut following his retirement at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

The district "is very fortunate to have such a strong leadership team in place, which enabled us to take this opportunity to promote from within," said board President Cindy Huber in a statement.

Ioannidis was chosen from a pool of three finalists, district officials said. He will begin at the district in his new role July 2.

Broad perspective: Ioannidis, 55, lives with his wife, Marty, and two adult children in Lancaster County.

Though he grew up in Saginaw, Michigan, his elementary school years were spent in Athens, Greece.

"Living abroad gave me an appreciation for some of the benefits and liberties we enjoy here in the States," he said, adding that it allowed him to learn through observing public services and institutions in another country.

He still enjoys reading Greek and Byzantine history, as well as mystery adventure novels by Brad Meltzer, and lately he's taken an interest in cooking after working with the district's caterers. 

He returned to his home state to study aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan, so "it's very appropriate that I work at a place called 'the Rockets,' he said, referring to the district's mascot.

More: Spring Grove, Dover schools team up to win rocket competition

Ioannidis also worked for the Department of the U.S. Navy and an international defense firm in Lancaster County, so he brings a wide range of knowledge to the position.

Taking a chance: "A career in education wasn't something I'd planned," he said. 

His introduction came when he took a chance on an ad for a business manager at Donegal School District in Lancaster.

Through 26 years of administrative experience, he worked under many skilled superintendents at Donegal; Manheim Central, in Lancaster County; Harrisburg and Spring Grove Area school districts, Ioannidis said.

Dealing with operations such as payroll, caring for school buildings and managing transportation gave him an appreciation for all that goes into running a school behind the scenes, he said.

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More: PHOTOS: 3rd Annual Spring Grove Diversity Festival

That first-hand knowledge is one of the reasons Ioannidis said he felt he was a good fit for the position, along with his continuing education through seminars, programs and other opportunities — which is something all staff members aim to do.

"George Ioannidis stood out among the highly qualified field of candidates for his passion and dedication, as well as his confidence as a leader," Huber wrote.

As he saw himself evolving, Ioannidis said he felt more and more prepared to move beyond business, and he continued his education with a doctorate in educational leadership at Shippensburg University.

Spring Grove's hiring process involved a full day for each finalist to tour the school, interview with the school board and leadership and take part in staff and community forums.

More: Help choose the next Spring Grove superintendent

Goals: Looking ahead, Ioannidis said he hopes to foster an environment where students can embrace learning.

His focus will be on giving students as many opportunities as they can to help them reach their potential and prepare them for their next steps, whether that is college, trade school or going into the workforce, he said.

Ioannidis said managing budgetary constraints will be a challenge  — as it is with any district  — but the biggest challenge will be maintaining an environment that will draw the best quality staff to the district for many years.

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