CATAWISSA RR - John Fetterman left Southern Columbia Area as a graduate in 1986. The 45-year-old Catawissa man is now returning to the district as G.C. Hartman Elementary School principal.

"This is a new opportunity and adventure in my life," he said Thursday. "I look forward to getting back to my home district."

The district has a good reputation and he's familiar with many in the staff and administration, he said.

Fetterman, who is currently elementary school principal for the Millville Area School District, was hired Monday night by the school board to succeed Joseph Shirvinski, who accepted a position as an elementary school principal in the Cumberland Valley School District in September.

"He (Fetterman) will be a great addition to the administration team. He comes in with 10 years experience as elementary principal," board President Mike Yeager said. "He's familiar with the district and he lives here."

Superintendent Paul Caputo said Fetterman is the "type of individual we want heading our elementary school."

"We were most impressed with the experience he brings to the table. He has an interest in and understands the educational, emotional and social needs of students," he said.

Fetterman has worked in Millville Area for the last 20 years - two years as a classroom teacher, eight years as a technology coordinator and 10 years as principal.

He graduated from Bloomsburg University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's in instructional technology. He also has a master's in administration from the University of Scranton.

Fetterman and Caputo met Thursday to discuss the position.

The principal said he plans to talk to teachers and staff to determine what direction the school should be taking.

Fetterman was chosen following three interview rounds of 21 candidates. An interview committee consisting of Caputo and 12 other administrators, teachers and parents narrowed that pool to eight after the first interview and then to two after the second interview.

The last interview took place in front of the school board during an executive session Monday night.

"The process itself was successful," Caputo said. "We were pleased with the quality of the applicants. We were fortunate to have so many well qualified people apply for the position."

It was a difficult decision, said Yeager.

"We had a lot of great candidates. For him to come out on top is a great accomplishment and compliment to him," he said.

Fetterman was approved as the new principal on a 6-1 vote with director Gail Zambor Schuerch voting against the motion. Caputo said her vote was not against his qualifications, but Scheurch preferred the other candidate.

Either way, Caputo said, "We were in a no-lose situation no matter who we ended up with."

Fetterman's start date is contingent upon his release date from Millville. The Millville board meets Monday night, at which time Fetterman will be handing in his letter of resignation.

He will start at a salary of $78,063.70, which is the departing salary of Shirvinski.

Fetterman and his wife of 25 years, Wendy, moved back to his hometown of Catawissa a year ago. Together, they have three children, ages 25, 20 and 14. The youngest is a freshman at Southern Columbia Area High School.