Linda Barkdoll accepts challenge of interim superintendent

June 27, 1997


Staff Writer

A positive student-teaching stint at Fountaindale Elementary School prompted Linda Barkdoll to seek her first teaching job in Washington County.

That choice snowballed into nearly three decades of exciting professional challenges, said Barkdoll, who took on her newest role as interim superintendent on Monday.

"When I say 27 years, it sounds so long," said Barkdoll, 49, of Hagerstown. "I've had opportunities to have different jobs, so it hasn't been 27 years of the same thing. It's been different and interesting and ever-changing."

The Chambersburg, Pa., native was finishing up her bachelor's degree in elementary education at Shippensburg University when she sent to work with a second grade class at Fountaindale Elementary.


At the time, she said, she thought she wanted to work with younger elementary students.

Her first teaching assignment at Keedysville Elementary, where she taught a combined fourth and fifth grade class, changed her mind.

"I really got to love that group," Barkdoll said. "That was a good age. They were neat kids and you could do all those things."

That's why she stuck with that age group throughout her 9 1/2-year teaching career, including time at Greenbrier and Potomac Heights elementary schools, she said.

Working in the then-brand new Greenbrier Elementary School was an exciting opportunity because it was an open-space school without walls to divide the different "classrooms," she said.

"That was a neat experience," said Barkdoll, who found her students adjusted well to the new arrangement. "I learned so much about good teaching from watching other teachers."

While she loved teaching, Barkdoll said she eventually decided administration was her calling.

Her first try came in filling in a semester as vice principal at Bester Elementary School.

Finishing up her master's degree in education at Shippensburg University the following summer, Barkdoll learned there would be some principalships opening that fall.

Newly certified as an administrator, she took over as principal of tiny Keedysville Elementary School.

After a year, she said, she was offered a daunting yet thrilling challenge - heading one of the largest elementary schools in the county at the time, Hancock Elementary School, which was also an open-space school.

She spent six years at the school, which allowed her to follow her first group of kindergarteners through their elementary years.

Barkdoll said she had never considered switching to personnel until she was asked to serve on the school board's negotiating team during her second year as principal of Smithsburg Elementary.

She said yes, she said, because she loves to try new things.

She became so interested in all the things she was learning - including labor relations, the negotiation process, school law and personnel - that she decided to apply for the new job of supervisor of personnel the following year.

"That was a very critical year in my career, and I've enjoyed it ever since," said Barkdoll, who said she especially liked talking to new teachers and trying to match the right people with schools' needs.

In February1996, she said, she was promoted to director of human resources.

Barkdoll said her last two jobs broadened her perspective from a focus on instruction to the entire school system and what it takes for it to work.

That was vital preparation for the job of interim superintendent, said Barkdoll, who earned a doctorate in educational leadership through Nova University in 1985.

Just days into the job, Barkdoll said she hasn't decided yet if she'll try for the post permanently.

"I need to settle in and see," said Barkdoll, who figures she'll have a better idea of all the job will entail by the mid-July application deadline.

Either way, serving as interim superintendent is a wonderful opportunity, she said.

Barkdoll said has two short-term goals in that role.

First, she'll need to keep the system on track through the summer to have everything ready for the opening of school.

At the same time, she said, she'll need to work with the large number of new people being hired for significant leadership positions in the system to make sure they're properly oriented for the jobs.

Team-building among the staff is another goal, said Barkdoll, who hopes to be a stabilizing force during the transition to a new superintendent.

Considering the uncertainty of her tenure - which could end any time between October and June 30, 1998, depending on when the new superintendent can start - Barkdoll said she won't be setting any new educational goals.

Instead, she said, she'll do her best to help new and existing staff continue working toward the system's current educational goals.

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