The leader of Hudson City Schools is leaving the district for a job with a communications firm based in the city.
Superintendent Phil Herman has resigned effective Feb. 18 after accepting a role as a principal with the Impact Group — a company specializing in providing service to school districts, local governments and agencies that help individuals with developmental disabilities. He submitted his resignation letter Monday.
Although he had not been actively seeking a new job, Herman, 48, said he was interested in a chance for professional growth that still allowed him to work on behalf of school districts.
“While I am excited for this opportunity, the decision to leave Hudson City Schools has been one of the most challenging of my life,” Herman said in the resignation letter he submitted to the school board. “It has been the greatest honor and source of pride in my career to serve as the superintendent of this amazing school district. There are no words to express the amount of gratitude I have for the Board of Education, the administrative team, teachers, support staff, students, parents, and the community.”
Herman has served as superintendent of Hudson City Schools for eight years, and has worked in the district for the past 16 years. He started as the director of human resources, moved up to assistant superintendent and then to superintendent.
In a message to district families on Tuesday, Herman said his decision to begin working in the Hudson City School District "was one of the best decisions of my life." That's why, Herman noted, he had "mixed emotions" as he announced his new professional role.
On Dec. 13, the Board of Education will consider a resolution to appoint Steve Farnsworth as the district's interim superintendent. Herman succeeded Farnsworth as the district's superintendent after Farnsworth retired in 2013.
The board will soon choose a search firm to find the next leader of the district and a timeline for appointing Herman's replacement will be announced once a plan is established.
How the job came about
Herman said he was recently approached by The Impact Group’s co-founders, Tom Speaks and Don Polyak, to see if he would be interested in joining the organization.
"That began a dialogue with them," said Herman, who added he's known Speaks and Polyak for about 15 years. "What interested me was the opportunity to work with school districts and take the experiences that I have gained. . .and use those experiences and that knowledge to help other school districts, boards of educations and superintendents as they strive to provide a meaningful educational experience for their students."
Speaks added his company's goal is to help school districts serve students' educational needs and noted he believed Herman would be an asset to the firm.
"Phil is ideally suited to help us, help school districts, and the students they serve," Speaks said.
In his new role, Herman said he will help facilitate the formation of strategic plans for school districts, as well as assist districts with crisis communications, professional development and leadership training for administrative teams.
Board president praises district leader
During Herman's tenure, the district has created and implemented a master facility plan, established a 1:1 technology initiative, managed finances and set up competencies for the Portrait of an Explorer. The outgoing superintendent said he is proud of developing a culture that sets up both students and staff members for success, and added he's enjoyed celebrating the accomplishments of young people.
"Our students are incredible people and they demonstrate that to us over and over and over, and to have been a part of their educational career with them has certainly been an honor," Herman said.
The past two years have been eventful in the district. School leaders have navigated challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, some racially charged incidents among students and an outcry from some parents about sexual content in a textbook and in some library books.
Herman noted school districts, including Hudson, are facing "unprecedented challenges," but said he decided to join The Impact Group so he could "help other school districts work through those challenges."
The school board leader praised Herman for his service to the community.
“Phil has had an enormous impact on our district,” said Dave Zuro, President of the Hudson City Schools Board of Education. “He has been an invaluable partner to me and my fellow Board members as we worked together to make Hudson Schools one of the truly outstanding districts in the state of Ohio.”
While Herman has many achievements, Zuro said it is the outgoing superintendent's character, integrity, intelligence, and leadership style that he will miss the most.
“He is bright, engaging and has always brought a thoughtful perspective to the challenges and opportunities we’ve put before him," Zuro said. "He is leaving the district in a great position for his successor to step in and pick up where he left off.”
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Hudson City Schools superintendent resigning for private sector job