Smethport Area School District Superintendent David London is set to retire July 9.

SMETHPORT — After serving students in Pennsylvania’s public schools for 35 years as a teacher, coach, principal and chief school school administrator, Smethport Area School District Superintendent David London will retire July 9.

Following his graduation from The Pennsylvania State University in 1986, he began his teaching career as a mathematics instructor at Redbank Valley, where he also served as student government advisor, assistant football coach and head baseball coach.

His educational administrative experience includes being principal at Punxsutawney High School from 1997 to 2016, when he was named district superintendent in Smethport.

In an interview with The Era, London reflected on the many changes he initiated during his five years as superintendent.

His 2020 Vision for the Schools included the Support for Our Children and Development for Our Students initiatives.

Besides technological and facility upgrades, the addition of a social worker and career counselor, improved financial status, curriculum alignment, behavior management and support and leading the district through the COVID-19 pandemic are among his many achievements.

“In addition to realigning the curriculum to Pennsylvania State Common Core Standards, we completed major building renovations for energy savings in lighting, HVAC and restrooms, as well as improving the security of the entrance to the elementary school,” London said.

With the updating of the district’s safety and security plan came much improved safety and security capabilities with cameras, building security and a new approach to managing visitors.

Further, London stated, “We have improved our financial position with grant writing, sound decisions and some creative ideas for savings.

“COVID-19 has set us back a little bit, but the pandemic did assist us in making substantial improvements in our technological capabilities and we are now a one-to-one technology school in grades K-12.”

At the same time though, London noted, the pandemic has reinforced the belief that having schools open for in-person instruction is so important for the students’ common good. “The ‘premium product,’ learning package is still in the classroom with a teacher.”

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What does London consider his biggest achievement?

“I would like to think that I was instrumental in instituting change and bringing Smethport up to date in current educational trends in curriculum, instruction, assessment and technology, while also updating facilities for safety, security and energy savings,” London said. “I could not have done that without the support of the school board, faculty and community. I am very thankful to have served as superintendent in Smethport.

“Education is the number one institution that helps people rise above their circumstances or improve their situation to be successful,” London remarked. “Public education provides every child the opportunity for success.”

London lauded the faculty for the excellent work they have done at using technology for in-person instruction as well as at-home distance learning.

“I’m hopeful that the foundations we laid down in Smethport the past five years will provide a strong structure to build increased academic student achievement and growth in the coming years,” he added.

How has education changed since he entered the teaching profession?

“The age of technology and accountability has created so much more work for our folks in public education,” London stated. “The unfunded mandates and high number of social issues that we are expected to address have increased.”

While many of the changes are for the better as they have certainly helped make schools safer, improved education and helped to provide better care and attention for children, London said these requirements come at a price.

“Schools in Pennsylvania remain underfunded and the current funding system is not equitable across the Commonwealth,” said London. “Pennsylvania needs major public educational reform, and that will not be easy as the 500 school districts across the state are very different and have different needs and socio-economic situations.”

London had high praise for the Smethport community’s support of education, saying, “It’s been a great place to be an educational leader.”

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