Martin schools superintendent David Harnish is retiring at the end of this year; he is shown above (center) at the ribbon cutting ceremony last August for the school’s new solar panels with then-school board president Jennifer Harrison and Verde Solutions founder and CEO Christopher Gersch—who will actually be Harnish’s new boss as of July. (File photo)

Martin superintendent search begins with input sessions

Ryan Lewis, Editor

Martin Public Schools parents, community members and staff are being invited to share what they’re looking for in a new superintendent in an online survey and at input sessions this month.

Superintendent David Harnish announced he was retiring in February at the end of his fifth year with the district and the school board has contracted with the Michigan Association of School Boards to help conduct the search.

The MASB facilitator who will head up that search is Mark Dobias, and he has planned input sessions on April 11 and 12, all at the Clipper Room of the Martin campus.

Staff can drop in on that Thursday from noon to 4:30 p.m., while parents and community members are invited between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.

The next day, Friday, staff are invited between 7:30 a.m. and noon, while parents and community members are invited between noon and 1 p.m.

School board president John VandenBerg said, “You may drop in anytime during the hours listed.”

The online survey needs to be completed by April 10 and can be found at:


It’s timing

Harnish said he’d always committed to five years with the district and that he’d been considering how to transition careers since he injured his arm last year.

“This has been a demanding job, and I’ve put a lot of my time into it,” he said this week about his pride in the work he’d accomplished in Martin.

He wears many hats: superintendent, high school/junior high school principal, curriculum director. He said that while he had a passion for the work and improving the district, he could tell the workload was taking its toll.

He has worked in education for 30 years, having been a teacher and later a principal and curriculum director at New Lothrop Area Public Schools, before being hired in Martin in 2014.

After his last day with the school, June 30, he will begin work as a senior corporate sales representative with Verde Solutions, the company the school contracted to install solar panels on the roof of the school last year.

“I was pursued by them, and I want to switch careers while I still have the energy to do so, in expanding my horizons,” Harnish said. “It’s a mixed blessing because my heart is in the classroom, but I promised my wife Kelley (also a teacher in Martin) I would retire in Martin; she’s sacrificed all these years and is supportive of this choice.”

He said the timing is right for his family because his son is graduating from college and also for the district because it is has grown and is ready to transition to a full-time high school principal with a separate part-time superintendent.

“When I got here, funding was being cut, morale was low, they’d had to cut programs, so I think things are much better now,” Harnish said. “We’ve got our budget in line, we’ve done major projects like the bond, the LED lighting, the solar project; we’ve aligned our curriculum—I feel like things are going well, there’s a lot of excitement and staff morale is high.

“I’ve really had to think this through, because the staff is like a family to me.”

He said he’s glad he’ll still be working with schools to help make them more energy efficient, and foresees continuing to work with Martin on its proposed plans to switch to combined heat and power to make the school even more energy independent.

Contact Ryan Lewis at or (269) 673-5534.


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