Charleroi man leads small Greene County school district
Lifelong Charleroi resident Bill Henderson is enjoying the challenges and promise of being the top administrator in a small Greene County school district.
And the 36-year-old said the experience he earned from past educational and athletic positions in the Mid-Mon Valley set him up to become the superintendent of the Southeastern Greene School District in Mapletown, near Greensboro.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work for some pretty strong leaders in administrative roles that I try to emulate,” he said. “I’ve just been fortunate enough to be surrounded by some good people as a teacher and as an administrator.”
A 1993 Charleroi Area High School graduate, Henderson earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education with a minor in special education in 1998 from West Liberty State College in West Liberty, W. Va.
A standout shortstop for the college’s baseball team, Henderson was the assistant varsity baseball coach for Wheaton High School in Wheaton, Md., from March to June 1999.
His teaching career began at the high school with an 11-month stint as a physical education and mathematics teacher that ended in July 1999.
Henderson moved on to the Frazier School District, where he was a health and physical education teacher from July 1999 to October 2001.
From 1999 to 2004, he was the assistant varsity football coach for Frazier.
Henderson became the district’s head varsity softball coach in January 2000.
He was Charleroi Area High School’s assistant varsity baseball coach from March to June 2000.
Henderson switched his focus to administration that fall, when he became the athletic director for Frazier’s high and middle schools.
He held that position for five years and then served as acting assistant principal for the school from April to June 2006.
He also served as a health and physical education teacher at Frazier Middle School from October 2001 to April 2006.
The following school year, Henderson was the principal at Charleroi Elementary School.
In 2007, he became the middle school principal in the Bethlehem Center School District in Fredericktown.
After three years in that position, he secured the superintendent spot for the Southeastern Greene School District in July.
Henderson said being an administrator is his niche, adding that there are aspects of teaching he will miss.
“I love teaching,” Henderson said. “I like being able to interact with the kids and see positive changes you can make in their lives. But, it seemed that I can have more of an impact as an administrator than a teacher because you get to deal with the whole building, not just your classroom.”
Henderson said he enjoyed everyday interaction with students in class, but he is still able to make close connections with the students in the small district he now serves.
The Southeastern Greene School District has about 750 students, slightly less than Charleroi’s elementary school.
Henderson said he has reason to believe he is one of the youngest superintendents in the state.
“I attended the state conference in October and it could be,” he said. “There were a lot of older administrators there.”
Henderson earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003 and his superintendent’s letter of eligibility from Gannon University in 2009.
He is facing a new set of challenges – and some added pressure – as a superintendent.
“The one thing that makes you nervous is you’re only given a three- to five-year contract. In three or five years, I could be out of a job. But, it’s been a nice transition for me. I’ve learned a lot and the (school) board’s been really supportive of me.
“So far so good,” he added. “I said it’s like a marriage. You treat each other good you’ll stay together. You never know what opportunities will come, but right now things are working out well.”
Henderson said he instituted a cyber school for 16 students at Southeastern Greene, among other improvements.
“We brought in a Keystone consulting firm to help with our special education students,” he said. “We have a pretty high population of special ed students there.”
Henderson said he is focused on diversifying the curriculum for all students in the district by more elective classes.
An exciting prospect Henderson said he is involved in is Southeastern Greene’s possible merger with Carmichaels and Jefferson-Morgan school districts.
Henderson said it is exciting to be part of a progressive school district with a solid financial background.
“The school board has done a great job in the last three to five years in getting debt under control,” he said.
“The board has been real receptive to our suggestions. They want to be one of the leaders in Greene County. For me not being from the area, I’ve brought some new ideas down there.”
Noting that his next goal is to pursue a doctorate, Henderson said he was able to remain upbeat when he didn’t land some of the positions he sought.
“I’ve been turned down a lot more than I’ve got offered,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been through a lot of interviews. I don’t know if it was persistence or my athletic background that paid off with tenacity.”
Henderson, an avid hunter and golfer, and his wife of six years, Janelle, have two sons; 5-month-old Luke and 3-year-old Brock.