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Former Clarksville superintendent hired as interim at Lanesville

An interim superintendent has been chosen for the Lanesville Community School Corp.
Sam Gardner, a former superintendent of Clarksville Community School Corp., was hired in a unanimous vote by the Lanesville school board at its meeting July 17.
Gardner, 63, a native of Clarksville, has 27 years experience teaching and administration experience, with six of those years as superintendent of Clarksville schools.
As for all that experience, Gardner tries to stay humble and keep a sense of humor.
‘That’s what happens when you get old,’ he said.
He retired a year and a half ago and had been spending his retirement with his wife of 41 years, traveling and doing what he calls ‘typical Grandma and Grandpa stuff, too.’ He and his wife have three children and seven grandchildren.
Despite filling his free time with trips to the Grand Canyon, New England and even St. Maarten, an island in the Caribbean, Gardner said there were parts of the job he’s definitely missed.
‘It’s good to be at work again,’ he said yesterday.
Gardner’s name was chosen from a list given to the Lanesville school board by the Indiana School Boards Association (ISBA). He said he gave his name to the board well over a year ago, in case anything part-time or short-term became available. Donald Hussung, president of the Lanesville school board, called him in to be interviewed for the position on July 9. Gardner was offered the position the next day and was officially hired two weeks before the buses roll on the first day of the new school year, Monday, July 30.
The timing of Dr. Phil Partenheimer’s departure and the crunch to fill the position ‘didn’t quite work out’ for Lanesville, Hussung said, but he said he thinks they were very lucky to get someone as qualified as Gardner in such a short amount of time.
According to Hussung, the whole process of filling Partenheimer’s position was ‘pretty fast.’ He said the board received a list from the ISBA of about 20 people willing to take on interim positions, and found two who were qualified and living nearby.
‘Sam was in Clarksville, he had good references and a lot of people stepped up to say he’s a good guy,’ Hussung said.
Gardner graduated from Murray State University in Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in biology and history. He didn’t immediately jump into education. Instead, he got married, started a family, spent time in the Army Reserves and ‘bounced around’ jobs, he said. It wasn’t until he and his wife had taken on a high school-aged foster child that he saw himself working in a school.
Because of the contact with teachers, counselors and principals, Gardner said he began to consider education as a potential career.
‘This might be a place I’d like to work,’ he said.
He went back to school at Indiana University Southeast to work on his teaching license and made it into the classroom, teaching science as a 30-year-old first-year teacher. He eventually went on to Indiana University-Bloomington where he worked on his school administration license. He has been a teacher of both junior high and high school students, as well as a principal at both levels.
‘I feel very blessed in my career,’ Gardner said. ‘Sometimes I feel like the luckiest man in the world.’
He said he sees a big ‘spirit of team’ in the Lanesville faculty and staff, and looks forward to working with them and the approximately 640 students in the school corporation during his time as interim superintendent. One of the first projects on his agenda is creating a school budget, having it adopted by the school board and getting it approved by the state.
Hussung said at last week’s meeting that, in the few days he and Gardner had been working together, conditions had been ‘pleasant.’
‘We’re going to do well,’ Hussung said.
Gardner has made it clear he is available to Lanesville for up to a year if they need him. For the time being, the search for a permanent successor for Partenheimer has been suspended. Hussung said, for now, they’re concerned with getting the school year started and getting projects, such as the budget, well underway. He said the search could resume at any time.
Partenheimer vacated his position as Lanesville superintendent to take the position as superintendent of the North Harrison Community School Corp. His position there officially began July 1.
In other matters from the Lanesville school board meeting, the school trustees:
* Heard an update on the playground equipment improvements by Marsha Himmelhaver, principal at Lanesville Elementary School. She said the school had received quotes from two vendors, estimating the cost of improvement to be between $47,000 and $60,000. Having already received a $25,000 matching grant from the Harrison County Community Foundation, she was looking for other grants or awards for use. Some members of the board suggested checking the ‘excess building fund’ for extra money. A recommendation will be made at the next board meeting concerning construction materials for the playground.
* Approved the following personnel appointments/hires: Penny Schmelz and Tina Walther as corporation treasurer and assistant corporation treasurer, respectively; Elizabeth Muehler, a native of New York, as the substitute teacher coordinator; Rhonda Barnes and Teresa Kopp as corporation bus drivers; Kristi Frauhigher as junior varsity volleyball coach; Wendy Schoen as junior high volleyball coach; Kevin Smith as assistant varsity boys basketball coach; Brian Book as junior varsity boys basketball and junior high girls track coach; Mark Frazier as C team boys basketball coach; Tim Mullins as sixth-grade boys basketball; and Sharon Rothrock as varsity boys tennis coach.
* Approved facilities-use requests by two community groups. Boy Scout Troop 10 of Clarksville will use the locker rooms and shower facilities before and after the Lanesville Heritage Weekend festival on Saturday, Sept. 15, and Harrison Hills Baptist Church will use one the gyms, to be selected by Lanesville’s athletic director, for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for local youth on Saturday, Aug. 18.