Dr. Lisa Palmer Chosen as WSSD’s Next Superintendent

2-19 Lisa Palmer

Dr. Lisa Palmer. Photo by Deirde Abrahamsson

Sometimes a quest takes you far afield, only to bring you back to find the answer at home.

Following a six-month search, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District directors have chosen Dr. Lisa Palmer as their nominee to be the next superintendent of schools. Dr. Palmer is now the district’s business manager. Her nomination will be acted upon at the Board meeting next Monday, February 22.

Board president Dr. Richard Sonntag said the search process “Drew highly qualified applicants from all over the eastern United States. The … district is very fortunate to have such a strong team in place, which enabled us to take this opportunity to promote from within.”

Dr. Palmer, who lives in Richboro, Pa., has been the business manager for WSSD for five years, following her tenure as assistant superintendent of schools in the Cherry Hill (N.J.) School District. Prior to that, she was in a financial management position with the Radnor School District. “I’m glad I had what the Board was looking for,” Dr. Palmer said, noting that superintendents today are expected to be qualified in many areas beyond education.

Her appointment as WSSD superintendent would be effective July 1, 2016, allowing time for the district to find her permanent replacement in the business office. In the meantime, acting superintendent Michael Pladus will continue in his position.

The timing of her selection is ideal, Dr. Palmer said. “We can start the search for my successor before others are hiring; I will be able to stay here to close out the books at the end of the school year, and my successor will be able to do the same at his or her district. It should be a smooth transition.”

Dr. Palmer traveled an unusual educational path. She went right to work following high school graduation in New Jersey. While an industrial buyer by day, she was a student at Rider University by night, earning a bachelor’s degree She began working in a school district in 1992, and kept learning, earning a MBA from Rider.

By then, Palmer, who describes herself as “a continual learner,” had also learned about herself. “I knew that I needed to find a way to get involved in serving the community… and I know that I wanted the next phase of my learning to have an instructional component.” She chose a doctoral program in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and earned her doctorate prior to her arrival at WSSD.

As an educator and a mother (she and her husband have sons enrolled at Penn State and Temple universities), Dr. Palmer says the eagerness of Strath Haven students to learn and to engage in their community inspired her to seek the superintendent position here. “I prize and appreciate this community,” she says, and is pleased to remain among parents and residents who are passionate about, and supportive of, their school system.

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