Carmichaels school district brings in new superintendent

John Menhart, outgoing superintendent for Carmichaels school district, has worked for the district for 40 years. Menhart’s whole life has taken place in Carmichaels, and he intends to keep it that way, even after his retirement.

“I graduated from Carmichaels in [1974]; I came home from [Indiana University of Pennsylvania] in [1978] and got hired [at Carmichaels] as a physical education teacher that August,” Menhart said. “I spent my first 22 and a half years as a teacher, and then I became an assistant principle, a middle school principal, high school principal and assistant superintendent then superintendent.ff”

For Menhart, the town of Carmichaels holds a special place in his heart.

“Carmichaels is home to me. I went to school here, my kids went to school here and I grew up here,” said Menhart. “It’s just personal. Some people like to move away and I never had. I’ve had opportunities, but I’ve never had the desire to leave. It’s a great place.”

Menhart is proud of the relationships and trust he built with people within the school’s district and members of the community. That means more to him than anything else.

Even though Menhart is retiring at the end of the school year, he is not leaving Carmichaels. Instead, starting June 1, he will stay on for 90 days to help the new superintendent get acclimated to the position. This is different than how the district normally handles the hiring of a new superintendent. Normally, the “superintendent in waiting” becomes the assistant superintendent for a year, but that wasn’t a feasible option for the district because it could cost over $100,000, according to Menhart, so they decided to do a 90-day transition in order to save that money.

It was recently announced that Fred Morecraft, the elementary school principal, will be hired as the new superintendent. Much like John Menhart, Morecraft has been in the Carmichaels school district for many years.

According to Morecraft, he has been with the district for nearly 12 years, this being his third as the elementary school principal. Morecraft started at All Saints Regional School in Masontown, Pennsylvania for three years before moving onto the Southeastern Greene school district for five years.

“I student-taught in Carmichaels; Mr. [Rob] Cole was my supervising teacher,” said Morecraft. “I got a job right out of college and Mr. Cole had moved on to principal and he always said, ‘If I were hired to be principal, I’d want to hire him,’ and sure enough, he got the principal job and I was contacted about some openings. I went through the whole interview process and applied, and I got the job. He put me in the classroom I got to student-teach in.”

The man who was once his supervising teacher then encouraged him to get his “principal papers” and Morecraft did. After his long-time mentor retired, Morecraft stepped into his position as the elementary principal.

“I think Fred [Morecraft] is a people person. He communicates well. He’s the elementary principal now, and he has the respect of his students and staff,” said Menhart. “I think it goes back to relationships and dealing with people, and I think that’s a strength [of his].”

Morecraft said his concern for stability was one of the driving forces in his decision to apply for the position.

“I think a lot of it is the concern of our district and the stability of our district,” said Morecraft. “I have a great deal of respect for [Menhart], and I realize I have some really big shoes to follow with him. I really feel that he’s done a lot of things to bring our district together and move it in the right direction. I thought it was my responsibility to continue what he’s doing and offer that stability to the district.”

Both Menhart and Morecraft have been working closely with one another to make the transition as smooth as possible. Morecraft will be taking over the superintendent’s position July 1.

John Menhart recognizes his life will be very different after his 90-day transition period, especially after being a part of the district for the past 40 years.

“I’m sure there’s going to be an empty feeling,” said Menhart. “I won’t always be a part of the district, but the district will always be a part of me.”

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Domon