Dr. Sandra Lemmon is about to finish her final year as the superintendent of Southern York County School District. Before taking the superintendent position in the summer of 2014, she held different positions which led her to where she is today.
“I taught for 8 years, and I started in Baltimore County,” Lemmon said. “I taught elementary school, first, second and third grade, and then I became an assistant principal in Baltimore County.”
Lemmon transitioned to SYCSD prior to her position as superintendent, taking a chance with a new school and district.
“21 years ago, I saw the opening as a principal at Shrewsbury open, and I drove up here one weekend and I looked at the school, I just fell in love with it,” Lemmon said. “And I thought, okay, …I’ll put in my application.”
Lemmon admits that the job was everything she could have asked for as she was surrounded by a welcoming environment.
“When I met the people, the teachers, the parents and the kids, I fell in love with it,” Lemmon said. “I was Principal at Shrewsbury for 8 years, and then I moved into the director of curriculum position K-12, which was a really neat experience too, because then I got to see secondary kids, middle and high, and work on curriculum…with the teachers. I never really saw myself in that capacity, but I thought, I love the kids at this age too, and the learning and everything. Then I became assistant superintendent, and … superintendent.”
As she has worked with kids of all ages, different staff and faculty and various groups of parents, she has always strived to leave an impact on those she has worked with.
Coworker and Chief of Financial Operations, Susan Green, has had the opportunity to work alongside Lemmon during her time as assistant superintendent, as well as superintendent throughout the last 8 years.
“She’s an excellent leader,” Green said. “She leads from the heart. She really cares what happens to people. I think sometimes that people think when you lead from the heart and you care, that you’re a pushover, but that is definitely not true. She makes decisions in the best interests of students, the community, and stakeholders… She does the right thing.”
It is clear to staff and faculty as well as students and community members that Lemmon does what is best for the community and district as a whole.
From starting off as a teacher to finishing as superintendent, she has always lived by one motto that has left an impact on those around her.
“I think one of the things that I think has a lasting impact is the phrase that she started to use when she became superintendent, ‘making a difference in the lives of our students one Warrior at a time,’” Green said. “It really is about each individual student, so I think that really her focus has been on individuals versus groups of students, and I think that’s important. It’s every single student, not just those that do the best or those that need additional help; it’s every single student.”
Not only does Green believe this, so does English teacher Jessica Beste who has worked under Lemmon for the past 11 years.
“Dr. Lemmon has a special gift; she is able to make each and every person she makes contact with feel embraced with such support and love,” Beste said. “Her commitment to excellence goes beyond academic content in the classroom; her relationships and rapport is such a bright light as she never fails to provide such positive words of encouragement, inspiration and appreciation.”
Beste remarks that Lemmon is known for her selflessness and kindness as a leader.
“She always puts the students first, and her care for them and their success is beyond measure. As an alumni, teacher, and a parent within the Southern York County community, I am honored to have been able to be under her leadership as she has always placed the community and its students above all else. Her pride in our students is amazing to witness. She is the true definition of a Warrior.”
Her pride in the community and district is strong, and Lemmon hopes for this to continue after she steps away from the district.
“The pride, the warrior pride and that family feel and just continued excellence…,¨ Lemmon said. ¨We have a phenomenal education and our programs are great. We give kids so many different choices, our athletics, our music department…we just have such a wide variety of opportunities.I hope they continue with those opportunities as well as just [continue] the pride and unity, togetherness and greatness that we can all do together. We’re all different, but it’s our differences that make us stronger.”
For whoever steps in as the next superintendent, they have a large position to fill.
“Dr. Lemmon is a leader whose passion and love for the school, its students, faculty, staff, and community excels all others; she is a compassionate, inspirational, loving, intelligent, kind, energetic, and positive presence within our community,’ Beste said. “Whomever becomes the next superintendent will need to continue to be a symbol of positivity and kindness.”
As Lemmon will step away after the completion of the 2021-2022 school year, she has big plans for herself in retirement.
“Well, initially, I hope to just kind of relax,¨ Lemmon said.¨We love to travel to the beach. I have two grown girls, and I’d like to be able to just spend time with them and spend time with my mom. But eventually, I’ll probably think about teaching at the college level, education classes, and maybe supervising student teachers, something like that, so I can still inspire people in the education field.”
Despite her leaving the district, she still has hopes to make a difference on other students and teachers.
Lemmon has spent half of her working career with Southern York County School District and has made some fantastic memories along the way.
“Someone just asked me that the other day, and I have so many,¨ Lemmon said ¨I think any of my favorite memories are just seeing the excitement of our students accomplish so many different things, whether it’s academics or whether it’s all the sports or the concerts….being at the Unified Track…to see the excitement.
Leaving the district will be hard for Lemmon; however, she wishes the district nothing but the best.“I’ve just been so fortunate to be here, so proud to call myself a Warrior and will always have just incredible memories, and my only wish is for sunny skies to shine over Southern for everyone,” Lemmon said.
She leaves one last piece of advice to students, educators, administrators and the school board.
“Continue to follow the passion and never give up on your dreams,¨ Lemmon said. “As a small group, as a small community, we can continue to do great things.¨