Penczarski to replace Hunt as superintendent of Chagrin Falls schools
CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio – Jennifer Penczarski, who has served as Superintendent of Schools in Kenton City since 2010, has been appointed Superintendent of Schools in Chagrin Falls, effective July 1.
The Chagrin Falls School Board approved a three-year contract for Penczarski at a special meeting on Wednesday April 14.
Penczarski will succeed Robert Hunt, who is leaving the district to become superintendent of the Barrington 220 Community Unit School District in the Greater Chicago area.
Other finalists for the position were Aireane Curtis, Superintendent of Schools for the Exempt Village of Windham, and Maura Horgan, Director of Program and Staff Development for Newark Town Schools.
“I am extremely honored to have been chosen as the next Chagrin Falls Schools Superintendent,” Penczarski said in a statement. “Chagrin Falls has a long tradition of excellence and I look forward to being able to work together to bring an already great school district to even higher standards.
“Throughout the interview process, I witnessed a strong sense of community, commitment and pride from a diverse group of stakeholders. My husband and I also experienced an extremely welcoming, helpful and caring community on our recent visits to the area. I am delighted to begin the next leg of this journey.
Penczarski lives in Kenton – in Hardin County in west-central Ohio – with her husband, Michael.
After the board approved his contract, Penczarski said, “We are delighted to start and begin to learn from the community and the people of this exceptional organization.
“Michael and I look forward to spending some time in the near future and then taking this big step forward and being a part of your community.
“So thank you; I think this will be a great fit, and everyone I’ve met has been so kind and student-centered. They really have a passion for the school district, and that’s something I am delighted to be a part.
The school board launched a superintendent search in January, with help from K-12 Business Consulting Inc., based in New Albany, Ohio, and included a cross-section of the community in the process.
After developing a Superintendent Profile based on feedback received during seven staff and community focus group sessions and survey responses from over 125 community members – including parents, teachers, teachers, administrators, support staff and students – the board reviewed the references of 22 candidates.
Council interviews with six semi-final candidates took place virtually on March 29 and 31, after a committee of residents and district staff had the opportunity to ask questions of each candidate during the a welcome session.
The three finalists were invited to return on April 5 to meet with district administrators and staff before a second, in-person interview with the board.
“On behalf of the Chagrin Falls School Board, I am delighted to welcome Dr. Penczarski as the next Chagrin Falls Schools Superintendent,” Board Chair Phil Rankin said in a statement. “This decision was very difficult due to the quality of our candidates.
“We are confident that Dr. Penczarski’s passion for learning and his dedication to maximizing the potential of each student will serve our district well. We look forward to working with Dr. Penczarski as we continue our pursuit of excellence for all of our students.
Hunt, who has served as the Chagrin Falls Schools Superintendent since 2012, will remain with the district until the end of this school year and assist with Penczarski’s transition. He begins his new position on July 1.
“On behalf of the students and staff, we look forward to making the transition, meeting you in person and spending time together,” Hunt told Penczarski at the board meeting. “You have ended up in a wonderful school district with excellent staff, a highly qualified administrative team and a supportive community.
“So I look forward to meeting you in person and transforming you in a way that will prepare you for success in the future.”
Vice-chair of the board, Kathryn Garvey, said she appreciated Penczarski’s ability to start work on July 1 to “create this smooth transition with outgoing leadership.”
“It really means a lot to us,” she said. “I’m sure your current district hates to see you leave a little early, but we certainly appreciate it.
Garvey added that what impressed her the most about Penczarski is that she builds “genuine, genuine relationships.
“You not only have 11 years of experience as a superintendent, but you cultivate partnerships and share leadership opportunities,” she said. “I think you will bring our staff and our community even closer together to help our students realize their greatest potential.”
Board member Sharon Broz said the feedback from all community members who met Penczarski was “overwhelmingly positive.
“I was particularly impressed with your thoughts on real identification of our situation as a district, the fact that we are already in a great place, and some ideas on how to make us even stronger”, a- she declared. “Also your very student-centered approach and really just your intentional approach that complements your own professional development.
“So I am very happy that you are joining us. I think you are going to be a great candidate for our district and I hope you have a long and successful career with us.
Chris Mohr, president and owner of K-12 Business Consulting, noted that K-12 also conducted the search for the school district treasurer, which resulted in the hiring of Ashley Brudno in 2019.
“I think we’ve done a really good job with Ashley, and I think she’s doing a really good job as well,” Mohr said. “I have no doubts that Dr Penczarski will do a very good job for you as well.
“She fits perfectly; we saw it right away. So we are happy that this game has been made and we are proud to be a part of it.
Prior to being Superintendent of Schools in Kenton City, Penczarski worked in local Tri-Valley Schools in Dresden from 2005 to 2010 as Principal of Tri-Valley Middle School, Principal of Frazeysburg Intermediate School and Deputy Principal of Tri-Valley High School.
From 1997 to 2005, Penczarski was the Director of Instrumental Music for grades 5 to 12 for the local school district of Tuslaw in Massillon. She was Managing Director of the Miami University Marching Band in Oxford from 1994 to 1996.
Penczarski received a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Miami. She received her Superintendent’s License, as well as her Masters in Educational Administration, from Ashland University and holds a BA in Music Education and Music Performance from the University of Miami.