12 Questions with Dr. Blanchard

12 Questions with Dr. Blanchard
Posted on 11/28/2023
12 Questions with Dr. Blanchard12 Questions with the New Superintendent
Noah Shin
Staff Editor
[email protected]

Dr. Blanchard gives the 2020 commencement speech for Cumberland Valley High School on Chapman Field. Picture by Mark Pynes from Pennlive

Dr. Mark Blanchard, who served as the principal for Cumberland Valley High School from 2017-2020 and an Assistant Superintendent since then, will become Cumberland Valley School District’s new superintendent on December 4th. He will replace the current superintendent, Dr. David Christopher, who is leaving to become the superintendent for the West Chester Area School District. CV Eye asked Blanchard 12 questions to get to know the new superintendent.

Question #1: Are you originally from this area?
I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. I went to college in Pennsylvania and after one year back home in Iowa after graduation, I moved back to the Harrisburg area permanently in 1997."

Question #2: What is your current position and what other positions did you have previously?

"I’m currently the Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education. I have direct responsibility for all aspects of the organization Grades 6 – 12. I also supervise the Athletic Director as well as the Directors of Special Education, Curriculum and Instruction, and Student Services. Prior to this role, I served as the high school principal for two years, from 2017 – 2020."

Question #3: How long have you known you want to be an educator or administrator?

"I knew I wanted to teach and coach from the time I was in middle school. I was always pretty curious and enjoyed learning, so the process of discovery and being a part of that with others was interesting for me. I was also always comfortable around people and in front of the room, enjoyed sports, and liked the idea of working with others. So teaching made sense for a career."

"I thought I would teach forever, so being an administrator was not on my radar. When I was pursuing my Masters degree at Penn State, a professor there asked if I had considered the principal program. He talked me into joining the cohort. During my internship in the Spring of 2004, I knew that being a school leader was what I wanted to do next."

Question #4: What is your favorite thing about working at a school? What do you love most about your job?

"Two things: First, I love learning and enjoy working with others as they learn. I really enjoy digging into something together and figuring out what it means for us.
Second, I have always enjoyed being around people, both students and teachers. I love attending events and then talking with the students about it, whether it’s a game or a concert or a competition. I also enjoy walking around the buildings and talking to teachers and staff members about what’s going on in their world. School is about helping individuals grow and the best way to do that is to be engaged with them on the journey."

Question #5: What are some challenges?

"Everyone is coming from a different place. So it takes time to get to know people and to work out processes or procedures or material that reaches the goals you have for each individual. I want all of the teachers to be successful and feel supported; I want all of our students to learn and grow. But our time at school is limited each day and each year. The hard part is that while we do our best, sometimes we are not able to accomplish all that we hope to accomplish."

"A specific challenge in this new role is related to that. Because CV continues to grow, we have to continually monitor our resources and determine how to best meet the needs of our students."

Question #6: How would you describe the CV community?

"Engaged and supportive. I chose to come back to CV in 2017 because this is a community that values excellence, expects it, but supports what we need to do to achieve it. Sometimes people expect great things without fully appreciating the work required to be great. No one rolls out of bed and has success. The CV community’s support and investment matches the expectation."

Question #7: What high school did you go to?

"Grandview Park in Des Moines, Iowa. Class of 1992"

Question #8: What was your favorite subject in school?

"English and History. I had great teachers in both of those areas and they really inspired my desire to be an English teacher and a bit of a history nerd."

Question #9: How would you describe your own high school experience in 3 words?

"Active. Engaged. Motivating"

Question #10: How would you compare your own high school experience to your view of the high school experience of students today? What are some similarities and differences?

"Probably the single greatest difference is the presence and impact of the internet generally and social media specifically. My school experience was dominated by the dissemination of information. Now the amount of information and the speed with which it can be accessed is seemingly infinite. So today we focus more on processes. The presence of Google changes the way we think about information and the energy we use to learn “what” vs. learning “how.”"

It’s really hard to fully appreciate how different the social experience is for students today because of social media – the ability to communicate and what is communicated. It’s really changed the experience of today’s students in that they engage with and interact with peers.

With that being said, one thing that is still similar, for now, is that we basically “do school” in much the same way. A series of classes over the course of the day, homework, and extracurriculars. But I emphasize “for now.” My school day looked very similar to the school day that most of the students experience.

Question #11: What’s one surprising thing that most people at CV don’t know about you?

"I can play the piano and I sang the national anthem for the Iowa State Basketball Championships in 1991 and 1992."

Question #12: What are some things you hope to accomplish as the new Superintendent?

"On the student side, I want to make sure that we continue to provide excellence and opportunity for our students regardless of our growth cycles. Our expectations for the student experience cannot change. We will continue to hire high quality teachers for the classroom and ensure that our students have opportunities to grow and develop and move onto the next stage with the technical and durable skills they need. These things evolve and change over time, so we have to do that as well.
On the staff side, I want to make sure that our employees feel like the Cumberland Valley School District is a great place to work, a place that values them as individuals and will support them."

CV thanks Dr. Blanchard for his time and wishes him well in his new role as our superintendent. 

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