This month, we shine the member spotlight on one of Upper Bucks three public school leaders: Dr. William (Bill) Harner of Quakertown Community School District.
As one of the largest employers in Quakertown Borough, Quakertown Community School District (QCSD) leadership is taking an active role in building partnerships with the business community.
Quakertown Superintendent Dr. William (Bill) Harner said clear communication, value added partnerships and community support are among the most telling qualities of successful communities. “There are three-legs to the stool: business, the school district and families,” Harner said.
Covering roughly 72-square miles and with roughly 5,600 students, QCSD educates youngsters in Grades Kindergarten through 12, preparing them post graduation for college or the workforce.
For Harner, communication takes many forms. Harner represents the district by participating in UBCC events like networking mixers and monthly breakfast meetings, as well as actively engaging with business owners. He is active on social media and Twitter and believes in supporting extracurricular activities by attending them.
“You have the ability to support the local economy,” Harner said. Evolving business partnerships with St. Luke’s Hospital – Quakertown Campus and new alliances with business leaders, are forged with the aim of providing hands-on experience and mentoring to students.
New at the high school is a medical careers program hosted through St. Luke’s Hospital – Quakertown Campus. This program provides access to day-to-day operations in a health care setting, where students learn about careers first hand during the academic day.
Engineering and land planning firms can connect with “Project Lead the Way” students, too, to engage with the next generation of career leaders in science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM. “Project Lead the Way is a national non-profit organization, which develops curriculum for STEM careers, the organization’s website said.
Harner said these and other business connections are made easier by being active in chamber membership.
“We are all counting on each other to do our part and be the best we can be,” Harner said.
When Harner arrived in January, 2014, one of his top priorities was to scope out the lay of the land. He drove the district’s country roads and borough’s downtowns across all six municipalities, to discover the geography and complexities of the region he’d be serving. QCSD serves families in Quakertown, Richlandtown and Trumbauersville boroughs; and Haycock, Milford and Richland townships.
Harner said business owner Warren Levy, of Levy Bus Co., invited him to his first UBCC event.
He’s returning the favor, by offering business leaders tours of the roughly $70 million Quakertown High School renovation – set to complete in 2017, as well as the chance to advertise at the newly refurbished Alumni Field.
“We host a lot of ball games at the (school) fields, but it needs to be symbiotic to really work. Downtown restaurants are convenient and they’re close-by,” Harner said of eateries, residents and visitors could walk to and patronize before or after games.
“There’s a lot, right in our own backyard,” Harner said
Harner is married to his wife of 31 years, and the couple has two grown children. The Harners’ son and daughter are officers in the U.S. Military. Bill Harner is a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel. Harner’s primary residence is in Middlesex Township, Cumberland County, but he said most of his time is spent in Quakertown.