DASD’s Lonardi to retire in June

Dr. Emilie Lonardi delivers the conferring of degrees during the 2021 DASD graduation ceremonies.

DOWNINGTOWN — During the February 9 Downingtown Area School District (DASD) board meeting, the board of directors approved the retirement of district superintendent, Dr. Emilie M. Lonardi, effective June 30, 2022. Dr. Lonardi has served as a superintendent for the past 24 years, with the last five in Downingtown.

Under her leadership, DASD schools continued their legacy of excellence, with all three high schools annually recognized as top-performing schools in Pennsylvania. Setting the bar for educational excellence not only in DASD schools but also for herself, Dr. Lonardi earned both the PA Association of School Administrators (PASA) Leadership Award for Service to the Profession in 2021 and the Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year award in 2014.

For the past five years, Dr. Lonardi led more than 1,000 staff members across 17 buildings to teach and inspire more than 13,000 students each year – prioritizing student achievement, engagement, equity and sound financial stewardship.

Dr. Lonardi’s collaboratively-created and district-wide implemented K-12 instructional vision continues to focus on academic rigor, student engagement and student agency. This vision ensures that students are challenged to take risks and think critically, invested and inspired in their education, and empowered, through voice and choice, to take ownership of their learning with guidance, support and accountability.

With more than 400 “how’s it going” lunches/meetings with the staff, regular visits to read with students or observe teachers, and a seat at countless concerts, competitions and performances, Dr. Lonardi is a visible and highly-involved leader who exemplifies the “Downingtown Proud” tradition. She explains, “It is a true honor to serve DASD, and I am grateful and humbled by the opportunity to work with a team of such talented, dedicated and caring teachers, staff, administrators and board members.”

Board President LeeAnn Wisdom recognizes the significant impact on DASD. “Dr. Lonardi’s passionate and hands-on leadership show a true devotion to her work, and we are very lucky to have had her here at DASD. The past two years have been the most trying for any school leader. Nonetheless, Dr. Lonardi led our district through the pandemic with steadfast grace and resolve, always considering all stakeholders and methodically weighing the options in all of her decision making. Her emphasis on collaboration has led to a significant culture shift, and now more than ever, the DASD team is working as a cohesive unit in support of student success. Making inclusivity and mental health support a district-wide priority, Dr. Lonardi has emphasized a whole child approach to serving the school community. Her leadership has been paramount to the continued success of our district as a whole, and the changes she has made will benefit the district well into the future.”

While Dr. Lonardi looks forward to traveling and spending time with her family in retirement, the choice to retire was not easy. “I will be leaving behind a huge part of my personal/professional self, as well as people I’ve come to know well, and for whom I care deeply.”

Dr. Lonardi will continue to serve as superintendent through June 2022. The Downingtown Area School District board will begin the hiring process immediately, in partnership with the Chester County Intermediate Unit.

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