Tyrone Superintendent to Retire in June


Sally Woomer

Cathy Harlow

After nearly 25 years of service to the Tyrone Area School District, Tyrone Superintendent of Schools Cathy Harlow will retire in June.

Harlow spent 18 years as the district’s business administrator and moved into the role of superintendent following the retirement Dr. William Miller in 2013.

During her six year tenure as superintendent, the Tyrone Area School District won numerous awards for academic excellence (see sidebar related stories), including a National Blue Ribbon Award for the High School in 2015.  

While proud of the district’s awards and accomplishments under her leadership, what Harlow will remember most about her time at Tyrone are the relationships she developed along the way.

“I will greatly miss the people I have worked with over the past 25 years,” said Harlow, “I have made lasting friendships that I hope will continue into retirement.”

Harlow’s colleagues echo that sentiment, and will also miss her leadership and friendship.

Director of Curriculum Leslie Estep said that she will miss “countless things” about Ms. Harlow, who she considers to be a mentor.

“[Ms. Harlow] always asks good, thoughtful questions.  I know that when I go to her with a question or an issue, she will always gather all of the information before making a decision,” said  Estep. “I have greatly enjoyed having her as my boss. She is serious but is able to find humor in a situation as well. She respects the opinions and thoughts of others. She is also very knowledgeable and I have learned a great deal from her over the 10 years that I have worked closely with her.”

High School Principal Tom Yoder also appreciates Harlow’s leadership.

“We have a very good, effective administrative team that she has helped to build and orchestrate,” said Yoder. “She is friendly and has a nice sense of humor and it makes for a comfortable working environment. I have enjoyed working with her.”

Harlow grew up in Huntingdon and graduated from Huntingdon Area High School.  She furthered her education at Thiel College, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree. She later completed her master’s degree at Penn State.

After graduating college, Harlow began working in Tyrone for the CPA firm of Young, Oakes, and Brown. Harlow then worked for the Huntingdon Area School District for several years. In August of 1994, Harlow accepted a position as the business administrator at the Tyrone Area School District because it offered her greater stability.

She served in that position until the retirement of Dr. William Miller in 2013, when she was hired as only the third superintendent at TASD in over 50 years.

Harlow has been present for many changes over the last 25 years, but of all the things she experienced her favorite memory was the opening of the current elementary school.

“It [was] a very challenging process to see the project through completion and it was so rewarding to see the students, staff, and community participate in the opening day for the new building.  It gave me and many others a great sense of accomplishment,” said Harlow.

With the school in mind, Harlow put much thought into the timing of her retirement. She wanted to ensure that the district was prepared to have a smooth transfer of leadership.

“I believe the district is currently in a good position to facilitate the transition to a new superintendent.  We have excellent people in key positions who will provide great support to a new leader. It is time for someone new to take the reigns and continue the great work that has already been started here at Tyrone,” said Harlow.

While her contact with students is limited by her administrative responsibilities, Harlow’s dedication to the school has also not gone unnoticed by students, who appreciate her thoughtfulness.

Ms. Harlow has an extremely difficult job, but she always does what is best for our students. I can always tell that she thinks of us students first and tries to give us as many opportunities as possible and make our education the best that it can be

— Student School Board Representative Hannah Gampe

One of the  students who got to know Harlow is senior Hannah Gampe, who served two years as the student representative to the Tyrone Area School Board.

“Ms. Harlow has an extremely difficult job, but she always does what is best for our students,” said Gampe, “I can always tell that she thinks of us students first and tries to give us as many opportunities as possible and make our education the best that it can be.”

After retiring, Harlow plans to relax and enjoy time with her family.  Her colleagues know that she has earned it.

“I wish Ms. Harlow all of the best in her retirement. The position of superintendent is very stressful and time-consuming and I hope that she is able to find time to relax and do the things that she enjoys,” said Estep.

As for Harlow’s replacement, the school board is working the Pennsylvania School Board Association to conduct a search for a new superintendent.  According to Director of Curriculum Leslie Estep, the new superintendent will hopefully be named in early to mid July.

In the mean time, the district is seeking student, staff and community input to assist in the search.  A survey designed to provide feedback to the TASD School Directors about the candidate qualifications and areas of focus around which the staff and community are most interested. The survey can be accessed  by using this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TyroneASDSSS  

The survey will close on Wednesday, May 15.