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Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools

Board of Directors

Our board directors work together to ensure that the goals and actions of PARSS continue to fulfill our overarching goals of ensuring fair funding to schools and a quality education for every child in Pennsylvania. The board is comprised of members from each region to ensure equal representation in every region.

Board Officers

Mr. Matthew Splain
Region 9 (Seneca Highlands)
Otto-Eldred School District
(814) 817-1380

About Mr. Matthew Splain

Mr. Matthew Splain is the superintendent of schools for the Otto-Eldred School District, a small rural district located in McKean County, northwestern Pennsylvania. Mr. Splain received his B.S. in Mathematics from St. Bonaventure University in 1997 and, after receiving his Pennsylvania certification, began his teaching career in the Coudersport Area School District. During this time, he completed his coursework for a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Gannon University (2001) and qualified for his principal’s certification. In March 2005, Mr. Splain became high school principal for the Otto-Eldred School District. Mr. Splain completed additional coursework at St. Bonaventure University and received his superintendent’s letter in 2010. He became superintendent of schools for the Otto-Eldred School District in April 2011.

Mr. Splain currently serves as a member of the Executive Board of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS), the Advisory Board of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, the PIAA District IX Committee, is a board member for McKean County CASA, and is a member of the Leadership McKean Class of 2014. He also enjoys volunteering his time as a youth sports coach for numerous local organizations and serves on the Parish Finance Council for St. Raphael’s Church in Eldred.

Mr. Splain currently lives in Duke Center, PA with his wife, Melanie, and their four sons, Maxton, Manning, Macaibe, and Maddon.

Vice President
Dr. Michele Orner
At-Large Region 14 (Berks) and
22, 23, 24, 25
Octorara Area School District
(610) 593-8238

About Dr. Michele Orner

Michele M. Orner, Ed.D. is the current superintendent of the Octorara Area School District in Atglen, Pennsylvania and the former superintendent of the Halifax Area School District in Dauphin County. Her previous administrative experience includes career and technical education director for the Carlisle Area School District, assistant principal in the Cumberland Valley School District, principal of the Franklin County Career and Technology Center, and the senior high project coordinator at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School. She began her career in education in 1992 as an English, speech, and theatre arts teacher at Fairfield High School in Adams County and taught Effective Speaking at the Gettysburg Campus of Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) for over 22 years.

Michele holds a BA in theatre from California University of Pennsylvania, masters in English education from Shippensburg University, and a doctorate in education leadership from Duquesne University. She has her certification as an English teacher, K–12 principal, supervisor of language arts, vocational administrative director, and superintendent of schools.

Michele supports public education as an Education Policy Leadership Center (EPLC) fellow and a member of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA). She is proud of the advocacy work PARSS does for rural and small schools, and she considers it an honor to serve the organization as its secretary. Michele and her husband of 30 plus years live in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. Their son, Benjamin, is a graduate of Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is currently working as a news producer at WILX in Lansing, Michigan. In their spare time, the Orner family enjoys traveling, NASCAR, and supporting community service projects.

Mr. Brian Bliss
Region 13 (Lancaster-Lebanon)
Solanco Area School District
(717) 786-8401

About Mr. Brian Bliss

Brian A. Bliss, Ed.D. is the current superintendent of the Solanco School District in Quarryville, Pennsylvania. He previously served as principal at both Pequea Valley High School and Pequea Valley Intermediate School. Prior to entering administration, he was an English teacher at Manheim Township High School for eight years where he also coached football and the Quiz Bowl Team. Brian also served as an adjunct instructor for Penn State University for 9 years, teaching courses in school law, supervision, evaluation, curriculum design, and coaching. He currently serves as a guest lecturer in both school law and school finance. Brian holds a B.S.Ed. degree in English education and an M.Ed. degree in curriculum and teaching from Penn State University. He holds an Ed.D. in policy and administration from the University of Delaware. He has published eight professional articles for journals, presented multiple times at conferences, and in 2013 received the “Outstanding Curriculum and Development” award from the Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Brian currently serves on the Board of Directors for the United Way in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with his wife, Melissa, and their three children.

Mr. Thomas J. Kakabar
At-Large Region 8 (Appalachia)
Conemaugh Township School District
(814) 479-7575

About Mr. Thomas J. Kakabar

My name is Thomas J. (T.J.) Kakabar and this is my 33rd year in education. I earned my bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1987, my master’s degree from Frostburg State University in 1997 and my superintendent’s letter of eligibility from Shippensburg University in 2006. I spent the first ten years of my career in the Forest Hills School District as a social studies instructor and also served as the boys’ basketball and golf coach. The next eight years of my career, I was a building level administrator in the Portage Area School District. While there, I held the positions of assistant principal/athletic director and later as the high school principal. I left my administrative position at Portage in November 2006 after being appointed to the position of superintendent of the Penns Manor Area School District located in Indiana County. I served as the superintendent of Penns Manor from November 2006 to January 2014 when I left to start in my current position of superintendent of the Conemaugh Township Area School District in Somerset County. I have called Sidman, Pennsylvania home for the past 30 years. My wife Jean and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this past July 1 and I have two daughters, Allison and Sara.

Regional Representatives

Mr. William R. Henderson III
Region 1 (IU 1)
Frasier School District
(724) 736-1116

Dr. Caroline Johns
Region 3 (Allegheny)
Northgate School District
(412) 732-3300

Dr. Michael L. Schreck
Region 4 (Midwestern)
Shenango Area School District
(724) 658-7287

Mr. Matthew Bennett
Region 5 (Northwest Tri-County)
Union City School District
(814) 438-3804

Mrs. Stephanie Keebler
Region 6 (Riverview)
Titusville Area School District
(814) 827-0526

Dr. Janet M. Sardon
Region 7 (Westmoreland)
Yough School District
(724) 446-7272

Mr. Mark Bower
Region 8 (Appalachia)
Rockwood Area School District
(814) 926-4688

Dr. Brian Griffith
Region 10 (Central)
Penns Valley School District
(814) 422-2000

Mr. James A. Estep
Region 11 (Tuscarora)
Mifflin County School District
(717) 248-0148

Mr. David A. Burkett
Region 12 (Lincoln)
Fannett-Metal School District
(717) 349-3011

Dr. Brian Bliss
Region 13 (Lancaster-Lebanon)
Solanco School District
(717) 786-8401

Dr. Richard J. Mextorf
Region 14 (Berks) and 22, 23, 24, 25
Hamburg Area School District
(610) 562-2241

Mr. David Zula
Region 15 (Capital Area)
West Perry School District
(717) 789-3934

Mr. Daniel R. Lichtel
Region 16 (Central Susquehanna)
Mifflinburg Area School District
(570) 966-8200

Ms. Diana Barnes
Region 17 (BLaST)
Northern Tioga School District
(814) 258-5642

Region 18 (Luzerne)

Dr. Kenneth Cuomo
Region 19 (Northeastern)
Elk Lake School District
(570) 278-1106

Dr. Robert Postupac
Region 27 (Beaver Valley)
Western Beaver School District and Blackhawk School District
(724) 643-9310

Ms. Tiffany Nix
Region 28 (ARIN)
Leechburg Area School District
(724) 842-9681

Mr. Shawn Fitzpatrick
Region 29 (Schuylkill)
Schuylkill Haven School District
(570) 385-6705

Members At-Large

Dr. Peter J. Aiken
At-Large Region 13 A
Manheim Central School District
(717) 665-3422

Mr. Matthew Button
At-Large Region 19
(Northeastern) and 20, 21
Blue Ridge School District
(570) 465-3141

Dr. Wesley Doll
At-Large Region 12 (Lincoln)
Upper Adams School District
(717) 677-7191

Dr. Brenda Freeman
At-Large Region 17 (BLaST)
Wellsboro Area School District
(570) 724-4424

Mrs. Alanna Huck
At-Large Region 9 (Seneca Highlands)
Galeton Area School District
(814) 435-6571

Mr. Mark Kudlawiec
At-Large Region 8 (Appalachia)
Chestnut Ridge School District
(814) 839-2088

Mr. Andrew Potteiger
At-Large Region 14 (Berks)
Brandywine Heights Area School District
(610) 682-5100

Mr. Michael V. Zinobile
At-Large Region 11 (Tuscarora)
Juniata Valley School District
(814) 669-9150