It has been a little over a month since Dr. Robin Felty was named superintendent of our school district. As summer is winding down, and the start of school is four weeks away, Dr. Felty is very much looking forward to meeting our wonderful students, staff, parents and the rest of the MT community. Dr. Felty plans to spend her first several months “listening and learning” about our district and community; we wanted to give you a chance to learn a little more about our new leader.
Who are some of your role models — past or present?
My parents – they instilled within me a strong work ethic and the need to operate at all times with integrity. They modeled how to be open, honest, and tackle issues head-on. My internal strength comes from my mother, who undoubtedly is strong to the core.
My grandmother – who instilled within me the need to be a person of your word. Don’t say one thing and then do another. During the many hours I spent working with her in the expansive vegetable and flower gardens on her property, she taught me the value of hard work, patience, and a positive attitude. As a teenager I would complain to my grandmother that all of my other friends were able to have fun and socialize while I was “stuck working in the gardens;” she would smile and just say, “one day you’ll look back at all of this and be grateful.” I never understood the magnitude of her comment until I was older and able to reflect on her wisdom and guidance. I am now an avid gardener and encourage my children to help maintain our gardens – and remind them that “one day they too will thank me for this work!”
A former supervisor – she taught me what true leadership exemplifies – the need for perseverance to the vision, being open-minded to possibilities, and listening to others. She also modeled servant leadership, a philosophy I’ve worked hard over the years to embody.
Being superintendent involves long hours. What do you do to relax?
Spending quality time with my family. This helps me keep everything in perspective.
I am an ardent reader who enjoys reading books on leadership, educational topics, and mystery novels. Years ago I read almost every book on Oprah’s Book Club list; however, time prevents this from happening now. But I do dedicate time throughout my busy schedule to read.
As noted earlier, I love gardening and find my work in the flower gardens to be very relaxing. You can truly see positive results from hard work and much planning.
What have you learned about MTSD since you have been hired as superintendent?
- I am reminded (from back when I last worked at MT many years ago) how dedicated, thoughtful and caring people are in the district. There is a fervent dedication to the success of the district, and a willingness to do what it takes to continue operating strong programs and schools.
- Community and parent support are strong, with high expectations for the district.
When and how did you decide to be a teacher?
Growing up I wanted to be an architect. I spent hours designing homes and buildings on paper, and drawing floor plans to scale. I maintained sketch books over the years showing many different types of homes with scaled drawings. During my junior or senior year of high school I took a required Child Development course and spent several hours observing in the S. June Smith Center in Lancaster, an organization that provides therapeutic and educational services for children with developmental needs. I was amazed at the dedication of the staff and the love for the children. This peaked my interest, and a seed was planted in my mind for the possibility of working with students with special needs. I later decided to pursue special education in college.
What’s an accomplishment you’re proud of from your career so far?
Probably my work to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for a former school district. Several years ago I worked with over 100 stakeholders to develop a district-wide Comprehensive Plan and six building-level strategic plans. Over the time span of six months, each school facilitated monthly meetings with their Comprehensive Plan committees – a team of teachers, school staff, parents, and community members conducted a needs assessment, reviewed data, and created goals specific to their school. This building-level information was then shared monthly with a district level team who met several times over the 6-month span to review the data, prioritize district needs, and establish overarching goals for the entire district. These final district level goals encompassed the needs and goals from each of the six schools, and set the vision of the district regarding professional development, educational programming, etc. This was an exciting venture that involved a significant amount of organization and planning – gathering many different perspectives and prioritizing the school and district needs for the next three years. Because of the dedication of the school staff, district administration, parents, community members, students, and the School Board to the Comprehensive Planning process, the district developed a meaningful comprehensive strategic plan that offered direction for goal-setting at all levels, including budget development, professional development, and the overall educational programming. I am proud of the accomplishments of each school team and the district level team. The plans are still continuously reviewed for progress and all building level decisions are based on the alignment with the established goals.
What is a goal you have for yourself in your first year as superintendent at Manheim Township?
- To facilitate an effective transition! One that allows me to meet with as many people (internally and externally) as possible, gathering much-needed information in order to identify areas of strength (to continue building) and areas of growth (to direct attention and prioritize).
- To continue building a positive communication channel between the school district and the community.
Books or magazines? What are some of your favorite titles?
- Definitely books! And I have so many favorites …. It’s hard to pick just several favorites.
- From Leadership …
- I just finished reading Extreme Leadership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
- Grit: The Passion of Power and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
- The Stephen Covey books are favorites as well!
- From Leadership …
- From childhood … and are all-time favorites!
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- The Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
- Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Do you have a favorite quote?
Yes! Here are my top three quotes … I couldn’t pick just one.
- “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” (Stephen Covey)
- “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” (Abraham Lincoln)
- “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” (Maya Angelou)
What is your favorite memory from your childhood education?
My middle school Geography class with Mr. O’Hara. As part of the curriculum we had to learn the capital cities of each country in the world, and he turned this learning into a class-wide game. It was competitive yet fun. We all learned a lot of material in his class, much more than just the capital cities. He knew how to make learning fun, and spent time getting to know all of us as individual students. It was the relationship he built with all of us that helped make his class so enjoyable and meaningful. We knew he cared.
What is your favorite school lunch?
Extra crispy tater-tots – are they still being served for lunch on the school menu? Those tater-tots are a childhood favorite … and still a weakness for me!
Bio of Dr. Robin Felty
Dr. Felty began her career as an elementary learning support teacher at the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit. She also taught a secondary learning support classroom at Annville-Cleona School District and an elementary learning support classroom at Warwick School District. In summer 2000 she was appointed supervisor of special education for two years at Manheim Township.
In addition, Dr. Felty has served as the supervisor of secondary special education at Central Dauphin School District and as an educational consultant for Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN). Before joining us as Superintendent, Dr. Felty served most recently as the assistant superintendent of Warwick School District from 2010 to the present, prior to which she was the assistant superintendent at Ephrata School District for three years.
Dr. Felty earned her Doctorate in Education from Immaculata University and her Masters of Business Administration from Lebanon Valley College. She also earned her Masters of Education from Millersville University and Bachelor of Education from Eastern Mennonite University.