New Palestine picks Pleak as new superintendent


NEW PALESTINE — A longtime educator, who started her career as an elementary school teacher and has 29 years of experience in public education, is the new superintendent for New Palestine Community Schools.

Dr. Gina Pleak comes from Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation where she worked as an assistant superintendent for human resources. The three-year contract with New Palestine schools has an automatic extension under Indiana law unless notice is given and takes effect July 1. The deal became official Monday night during the school board meeting after the board unanimously approved Pleak’s hiring.

Pleak’s annual contract lists a base salary of $172,500 with potential for annual increases ranging from 0-5% beginning July 1, 2025. There will also be consideration given to results of the superintendent’s evaluation and salary or stipend payments made to teachers pursuant to the Master Teacher’s Contract; and additional performance grant stipends equivalent to comparably evaluated teachers in the corporation.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to serve as the next superintendent for New Palestine Community Schools,” Pleak said in a release provided by New Palestine officials. “I look forward to meeting and developing relationships with students, staff, families and community members.”

Pleak comes to New Palestine after completing 18 years in educational leadership positions as a principal in Shelby Eastern Schools and as a principal, director and assistant superintendent in Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (BCSC).

The official hiring of Pleak closes a lengthy process which was started months ago by the New Palestine Community Schools board. Throughout the selection process, school board members collaborated with a University Search Team and collected input from families and community members through a community survey. Following a series of interviews, the board agreed that Pleak is poised to lead the district into the future.

Dr. Gina Pleak is the new superintendent for New Palestine Community Schools. She comes from Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation where she worked as an assistant superintendent for human resources.

“Dr. Pleak is an extraordinary person,” New Palestine Community Schools board president Laura Haeberle said. “Her extensive experience as an educational leader impressed us, and we are confident she will elevate our already exceptional school community.”

Haeberle noted Pleak’s diverse experience, serving districts ranging in enrollment size from 1,200 to nearly 12,000 students, positioned her as an excellent choice to lead a district that is growing and evolving.

“We are thrilled she chose to join New Palestine Community Schools as the next superintendent,” Haeberle said.

Pleak will replace outgoing superintendent Dr. Lisa Lantrip, who will retire at the end of June after a decade of service to New Palestine Community Schools. Lantrip noted she is enthusiastic about the district’s future under Pleak’s leadership.

“It will be exciting to work with Dr. Pleak as she transitions into her new role,” Lantrip said. “Her energy and commitment to continued success in New Palestine Community Schools is evident, and I am confident it will be a seamless transition.”

Lantrip noted she feels Pleak is the right leader to elevate the corporation to its greatest heights yet.

Those who have worked with Pleak for the past several years at BCSC say New Palestine’s gain is their huge loss.

“She is very relatable and student-centered,” said Chad Phillips, assistant superintendent of finances for BCSC. “She puts the kids at the center of everything she does.”

The only negative thing Phillips had to say about Pleak centered on her singing abilities.

“She’s the life of the room despite her incredibly poor singing voice. Sometimes on a Friday afternoon you could hear music coming out of her office and her attempt at singing,” Phillips said with a laugh. “We’re really, really going to miss her. But, I assure you, New Palestine is getting a great person who will make right decisions for kids.”

Pleak heads to Hancock County with friendships already formed. She is a longtime friend of Eastern Hancock Superintendent Dr. George Philhower, who said that he’s very excited for New Palestine to have Pleak as its new superintendent.

“I have known Gina for several years and she is a phenomenal educator whom I admire a great deal, and I am thankful to have her as a friend,” Philhower said. “I look forward to having Gina and her family in Hancock County.”

Philhower noted he did his Ph.D. work together with Pleak at Indiana State University, where he got the chance to get to know her.

“We were in a cohort that met every Wednesday for an entire school year,” Philhower said. “We often shared a ride together with a couple of our other cohort members.”

He noted their friendship is close, having shared holidays and family time during school breaks.

“My kids’ favorite weekend of the year is our summer weekend at the Pleaks’ house,” Philhower said.

Pleak and her husband, Jeff, are in the process of relocating to Hancock County and said they are looking forward to calling the New Palestine community home. They are parents to two grown sons, Jared and Jalen.