Orner and Newcome

Octorara Area Superintendent Michele Orner stands with retired Superintendent Tom Newcome.

After 15 years under the same leadership, the Octorara Area school board has chosen the district’s next superintendent.

Michele Orner, who is currently the superintendent of Halifax Area School District in Dauphin County, on Monday was unanimously approved to fill retiring Superintendent Tom Newcome’s place on July 1.

Orner’s contract is for five years and worth $155,000 annually.

“There was a lottery winner in Lancaster County not too long ago, and I believe it was me,” Orner, 53, said during Monday’s school board meeting, referring to the winning $456.7 million Powerball ticket recently sold in Manheim.

“I am looking so forward to working with all of you and catching the baton from Tom,” she added. “Thank you so much for the opportunity to come here and to serve the families and the students and the entire school community that is the Octorara Area School District.”

Prior to being appointed superintendent at Halifax in 2014, Orner served as the director of career and technical education and staff development coordinator at the Center for Careers and Technology in the Carlisle Area School District in Carlisle. She has other administrative experience as an assistant superintendent and middle school principal.

“We are very excited and fortunate that Dr. Orner will be coming to our school district,” school board President Lisa Bowman said.

Orner holds a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from California University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in English education from Shippensburg University and a doctorate in education leadership from Duquesne University. She is a certified English teacher, K-12 principal, supervisor of language arts, vocational administrative director and superintendent.

Newcome, 58, who is paid $142,000 a year, came to Octorara in 1996 as the junior high school principal and was promoted to assistant superintendent in 2001 and superintendent two years later.

The retiring superintendent in a phone interview Tuesday commended the board for its extensive search and shared high praise for his successor.

“I’m excited for the future of Octorara,” Newcome said.

LNP Correspondent Marcella Peyre-Ferry contributed to this report.