After more than 42 years serving Abington School District and 18 years as Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Amy Sichel announced to the Board of School Directors today her plans to retire, effective November 9, 2018.
Sichel began her career in Abington in 1976, as a school counselor, and became the District’s first female Superintendent in 2001, after serving in various administrative positions, including Director of Pupil Services and Assistant Superintendent. An Abington Township resident whose two daughters were educated in the District, Sichel has promoted a culture of community and continuity throughout her tenure that is reflected in the faculty and staff the District employs; the alumni who return to live and work in Abington and Rockledge; and the new families who move to Abington and Rockledge as a result of the quality public schools and affordable taxes — two hallmarks of Sichel’s leadership.
“For a superintendent to spend her entire career in one school district is remarkable,” said Raymond McGarry, Esquire, President of the Board of School Directors. “Dr. Sichel’s tenure in the Abington School District has been the backbone to our success with students, our achievements in many areas, our ability to be fiscally responsible, and our focus to rebuild and renovate our school buildings.”
Sichel, one of the nation’s longest-serving superintendents, achieved recognition as Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year in 2010 by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA), a statewide organization of public school superintendents of which Sichel was president in 2010-2011. In addition to countless other honors and recognitions, Sichel received the Margaret Smith Leadership Award from the PASA Women’s Caucus in 2017. She served as the president of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, during the 2013-2014 school year, making her the fourth woman in the nation to be elected by her peer superintendents to lead the 150-year-old organization that represents 13,000 superintendents. In 2015, Sichel received the Distinguished Service Award from AASA for exemplary leadership, service and commitment to education.
Sichel’s list of awards and accomplishments extends to her help garnering national recognition for Abington’s schools from multiple outlets and organizations, including most recently Abington Senior High School’s fourth consecutive silver medal among the list of “Best High Schools” from U.S. News & World Report – the school’s sixth time making the list in the past decade – and the District’s 2018 recognition as one of the “Best Communities for Music Education” from The NAMM Foundation, which the District has received for eleven consecutive years. In addition, ASD has been named a “District of Distinction” by District Administration magazine in the category of student achievement, thanks to Sichel’s work spearheading the “Opportunities to Learn Initiative.”
“My aim has always been to provide the students of Abington School District with the best quality public education in a cost-effective fashion,” said Sichel. “This could only be accomplished with dedicated and committed School Board Directors, administrators, teachers, facilities team members, administrative assistants, paraprofessionals and bus drivers and monitors. These folks, with the partnership of parents/guardians, along with community involvement, help ensure each student has the chance for a strong educational foundation.”
A longstanding advocate of public education throughout her career, Sichel has authored or contributed to countless works on educational practices and excellence through equity, including a chapter she co-authored with Dr. Ann Bacon, former Director of Curriculum, about the District’s “Opportunities to Learn” initiative in the textbook by Alan M. Blankstein and Pedro Noguera, entitled Excellence Through Equity. Sichel has also represented Abington on the national level by testifying to Congress as a result of her experience and expertise, and has presented on a number of topics including opportunities to learn with a focus on educational equity, how to develop district and school-based continuous improvement plans, and women as superintendents, to name a few.
“Almost 300,000 children have been a part of my watch for the last 42 years, with 11,000 students graduating since the time I took on the role of Superintendent of Schools,” Sichel continued. “I always tried to provide to each of our students what I expected Abington schools to provide to my own children.”
In addition, many of the District’s facilities and infrastructure have been rebuilt since Sichel was first appointed as Superintendent — starting with the opening of a new school, Copper Beech Elementary School, in 2001, and continuing with the rebuilding of Overlook, Highland, Willow Hill and Roslyn Elementary Schools, as well as the upcoming additions and renovations to Abington Senior High School. This latest project includes a large renovation of the existing 1956 facility as well as significant additions and expansions, such as a two-story science and technology center and new gymnasium.
“While I will miss serving the community in this capacity, the Board of School Directors and the team of administrators, faculty and staff that I have worked with all these years will ensure that Abington’s motto of ‘Excellence is our standard; achievement is the result’ continues for the students of the Abington School District,” added Sichel. “I am grateful for my time in Abington and look forward to what’s to come in the next chapter of my life.”
Sichel’s letter to the ASD community about her retirement can be found here.
“Though we are sad to hear of Dr. Sichel’s decision, the Board of School Directors and I must consider our next steps to hire and retain her successor, on which I provide more information in my letter to the community,” McGarry added.
McGarry’s letter to the ASD community about Dr. Sichel’s retirement and the process to appoint a new superintendent can be found here. The next meeting of the Abington Board of School Directors is scheduled for Tuesday, August 14, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.