GCHS principal leaving for new job


GROVE CITY – Grove City High School’s principal will soon be moving on to a new community and new school district.

The school board on Monday approved the resignation of Dr. Rae Lin Howard, effective Dec. 18, along with the Dec. 31 resignation of Courtney Essa, guidance counselor, plus any necessary documentation related to terms and conditions to finalize separation from employment.

Board President Doug Gerwick thanked the women for their service to the district.

Howard said on Tuesday that she has taken a job as assistant to the superintendent at the Pleasant Valley School District in Brodheadsville, Pa., which is near the Poconos.

She’s been with Grove City Area School District since 1998, and she said she will miss the students, faculty, staff and community members.

“They let me grow and gave me opportunities within the district,” she said.

Howard, who grew up in Slippery Rock, spent time as an English teacher in Delaware followed by five years as an English teacher at Grove City High School.

She was then assistant high school principal for five years, and became high school principal in 2008.

She has enjoyed the privilege of being able to see students through all four years of high school, helping prepare them for whatever comes next.

“I get to watch them graduate four years later and see how much they’ve grown,” she said.

It’s a testament to the district and community that many of those students remain in the area or even come back to the district as an employee.

For example, Pat McElroy was one of her students. He leads the high school’s theater and drama program and he teaches literature and is the school librarian.

Howard has learned a lot both professionally and personally during her time with the district, and this past year has been no exception because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our kids really rose to the challenge,” she said.

She is proud of how the staff, faculty and students have handled so many sudden changes. Members of the school community have learned to be more flexible, but school leaders know that the students are their top priority.

Everyone has been working together to make the best of the situation, and the Grove City community has always been there for the district, she said.

“I’m really going to miss that... I’ve made lifelong friendships there,” she said.

She looks forward to a new chapter in her career. Pleasant Valley School District is larger than Grove City, but their virus response and hybrid model for instruction is similar.

Howard will continue to keep in touch with folks in the Grove City area. She has family in Slippery Rock, her son is in college, and her daughter will remain in Grove City to finish her senior year.

Also at Monday’s meeting, board members named the assistant high school principal, Dr. Brendan Smith, as interim high school principal Dec. 21 through June 30.

His prorated salary will be $113,500. His current salary is $107,322, Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Finch said.

Howard has worked with Smith for the past 10 years and said he is the best person for the role of principal. He is a great person and always thinking of the students.

“I know he’s going to do a fantastic job,” she said.

She thanked those who have provided support over the years, including Dr. Robert Post, who was the superintendent when she was hired in 1998.

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