Next York City superintendent beams with 'Bearcat pride'

Andrea Berry reinforced her commitment to York City students after two years as assistant superintendent, stressing that if they are going to have pride in themselves, "we have to keep telling them over and over."

"So whenever you hear me around the school district," she said, addressing the community, "I’ll be saying, 'you can’t hide', and you all will be saying, 'that Bearcat pride.'"

In a larger board meeting than usual, community members and students gathered in the William Penn Senior High School cafeteria Wednesday, April 17, to welcome Berry as incoming superintendent of the district.

York City School Board members surround Assistant Superintendent Andrea Berry after her appointment as new superintendent at the board's Wednesday, April 17 meeting at William Penn Senior High School. (Photo by: Lindsay C. VanAsdalan)

Pictured: Andrea Berry (front); Tanoue Sweeney, Michael Breeland, Diane Glover Brown, Margie Orr, Lois Garrett, Superintendent Eric Holmes (second row, left to right); James Sawor, Lisa Kennedy, Michael Miller (back row, left to right)

Board President Margie Orr read a resolution  to appoint her to a five-year term beginning July 1, and the board unanimously  approved it.

In selecting a replacement for Superintendent Eric Holmes, who will retire June 30, Orr said the board did not have to put out a search "since in fact we had the best right here at home," she said.

More:York City assistant superintendent to step up to superintendent role

"She was eager and willing to help Dr. Holmes after a two-year lapse in having an assistant get the board back on track," she said of Berry joining the district in 2017.

Orr added that Berry has not wavered in her duties since then, also showing great strength in leading the district while Holmes was on medical leave earlier in the school year.

Berry said the appointment did not come as a surprise to her because she knew the most important factor in choosing a new superintendent was consistency in implementing the district's financial recovery plan.

"A lot of times when you get new superintendents, they come in and they put their own spin on the district," Berry said.

Assistant Superintendent Andrea Berry speaks at the Wednesday, April 17 school board meeting after being appointed 2019-20 superintendent of York City School District. (Photo by: Lindsay C. VanAsdalan)

Though the district could be released from its recovery status this summer, she said it would still be monitored, and therefore required to follow the plan, for five years. To ensure success, the board wanted a candidate who had been involved in the meetings and mentored in the execution of the plan.

Board member Diane Glover Brown echoed Orr's statements, saying, “We didn’t need to look any further.”

Berry thanked the board and administration for the support, especially Holmes for helping her transition to the district and for his mentorship. 

"Still to this day, he’s making sure that every duck is in a row and I know everything that he knows, and then some," she said. "I will work hard to help us to continue to move forward."

Holmes said he plans to make further comments on Berry’s appointment in June, but he did not wish to say anything on Wednesday. “It’s her night,” he said.

More:York City superintendent to retire at end of school year

Berry received a bracelet engraved with “Superintendent Berry” from the principals, supervisors and directors, and she said the staff and community who came out to celebrate with her are like family.

York City School Board President Margie Orr (front) and board members listen to newly-appointed 2019-20 Superintendent Andrea Berry speak at the Wednesday, April 17 board meeting at William Penn Senior High School. (Photo by: Lindsay C. VanAsdalan)

She also gathered with fellow members of her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority — the first African American sorority, created at Howard University in 1908 — to sing its theme song, which talks about sisterhood and togetherness and community work, she said.

She’s looking forward to meeting more people in the community this summer and partnering with them to help students.

“I love the children, and I love what they stand for,” Berry said.