Edwardsburg Public Schools narrows superintendent search to three candidates

Published 9:45 am Friday, April 14, 2023

EDWARDSBURG — After a full evening of interviews, Edwardsburg Public Schools narrowed its superintendent search to three individuals.

Following interviews Wednesday, the board of education selected Dr. Courtney Szucs, Executive Director of Special Services at Fenton Area Public Schools in Fenton, Michigan; Dr. Sarah J. Hickle, Assistant Superintendent at School City of Mishawaka; and Mark Brenton, Superintendent of Bellaire Public Schools in Bellaire, Michigan, to move forward to a second round of interviews.

The Board of Education extended invitations to five candidates to interview for the position, which is available due to the retirement of Superintendent James Knoll on June 30. Candidates also interviewed were Ryan Markel, Principal of Edwardsburg High School, and Tennille Woodward, Executive Director of Technology at Rock Hill Schools in South Carolina.

“I think everything went well. I’m excited for where our district can move from here,” said Board of Education President Chelsea Wilson. “We do great things in Edwardsburg and we’re looking for the next leader to take us to the next level.”

Szucs has a Doctorate of Education in K-12 Educational Leadership from Michigan State University. She has served as Fenton’s Executive Director of Special Services since 2018 and as its Special Services Director from 2010-18. During the 2010-11 school year, she also directed the district’s Federally Funded Programs. Prior to that, she was the Supervisor of Special Education for Lake Orion Schools in Lake Orion, Michigan from 2008-2010 and was the interim supervisor during the 2007-08 school year.

Hickle has a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and Supervision from Ball State University. She has served the School City of Mishawaka since 2016 in the roles of Director of Student Learning and Innovation as well as Assistant Superintendent. Prior to that, she worked in the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation from 2001 to 2016 in roles that included assistant principal at Penn High School, an instructional coach, Health and Human Services Academy Leader and a teacher of U.S. History, Government, and A.P. U.S. History.

Brenton, the Superintendent of Bellaire Schools, has a Master’s in Educational Psychology from Eastern Michigan University and is pursuing post-Masters work in Educational Leadership. He began his career as an elementary school teacher at Mount Clemens Community Schools and Livonia Public Schools. In leadership roles, Brenton has served as curriculum coordinator for Plymouth-Canton Community Schools; elementary principal for Mayville Community Schools; elementary principal for Dearborn Heights School District No. 7.

Three interviews were conducted Tuesday night and two Wednesday night. The board asked each candidate 14 questions and members of the public submitted questions, with the interviews being approximately 45 minutes to one hour in length. After the interviews were concluded, the board members chose the top three candidates moving onto the final round, before choosing the board member.

The finalists will participate in a second round of interviews set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 18.

  • 5:30 p.m.  Mr. Mark Brenton, Superintendent, Bellaire Public Schools
  • 6:45 p.m.  Dr. Courtney Szucs, Executive Director, Special Services, Fenton Area Public Schools
  • 8:00 p.m.  Dr. Sarah Hickle, Assistant Superintendent, School City of Mishawaka

Prior to the interviews, each candidate will participate in a full day of school visits as well as an open community session, to be held at the District Administrative Center. 

It is anticipated that the board will select its new superintendent following the conclusion of the interviews. If further deliberation is required, the board will convene at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 19 to discuss the selection of the new superintendent.

“We’re looking for an inclusive leader,” Wilson said. “Someone who isn’t afraid to look outside the box, brings people together and appreciates everyone. We’re excited; we have a lot of good applicants. We’re optimistic about what this holds for our district.”