Tribune Staff Report
A Philadelphia native who was named 2021 Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year is the new superintendent of the Lower Merion School District.
The Lower Merion Board of School Directors appointed Khalid N. Mumin in August to replace retiring superintendent Robert Copeland. Mumin has been superintendent of the Reading School District since 2014.
Mumin grew up in Philadelphia’s Logan neighborhood and graduated from Olney High School. He began his career teaching language arts and secondary English and has served as a principal, dean of students and central administrator in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Board President Lucy Klain said Mumin was an “ideal candidate” because of his record for fiscal responsibility, educational equity and inclusion, and experience with a 5-8 middle school reconfiguration.
Mumin is “a change agent committed to promoting and sustaining student achievement, equity and access to educational programming for all students, as well as creating plans that are fiscally responsible,” the school board said in a statement announcing the appointment.
“Dr. Mumin maintains a keen focus on fostering collaboration with stakeholders, including students, parents/guardians, teachers and other school staff, administrators, community members, public officials, business partners and higher education institutions,” the statement said.
“I look forward to joining the team at Lower Merion School District,” Mumin said in a statement. “This is a vibrant community with outstanding students, families, staff members and residents. I am beyond excited to begin collaborating and building sustainable partnerships that will continue to support Lower Merion students and help them achieve infinite possibilities.”
Mumin earned a doctor’s of education degree in education leadership from University of Pennsylvania, a master’s of education degree in teaching and curriculum from Pennsylvania State University, a bachelor’s degree in secondary English education from Shippensburg University, and an associate degree in English from Northeastern Christian Junior College, on the site where the new LMSD Middle School is under construction.
He is also the author of the book “Problem Child: Leading Students Living in Poverty Towards Infinite Possibilities of Success.”
In addition to this year’s honor from the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, Mumin has been recognized nationally with honors including Superintendent to Watch by the National School Public Relations Association in 2016, Excellence in Educational Leadership by Boscov’s in 2016, and Innovative School Leader by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association in 2018.
When Mumin became the Reading superintendent in 2014, the district had 19 buildings of failing infrastructure, eight bargaining units that had gone five years without contracts, a highly transient student population and extremely low test scores. The district was also facing a financial crisis along with a looming state takeover.
Within six years of Mumin being the superintendent, attendance has trended upward, test scores are increasing, the achievement gap is closing, and the high school has won the Distinguished Title I School Achievement award two consecutive years. It has also received the Silver award for Best High Schools from U.S. News. The district is the third largest in Pennsylvania with about 18,500 students.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, Mumin led an effort to ensure that most of the district’s schools have extended open wireless connections for students to access the internet while maintaining social distancing, and developed a district partnership with Comcast to provide internet service in the homes of up to 10,000 students for the 2020-21 school year at no cost to parents.
When Mumin was named Superintendent of the Year, he credited his experience at Olney High “for laying the foundation for his love of education.”
“My English teacher Richard Smith had us read Shakespeare’s play ‘Macbeth’ in my junior year,” Mumin said. “We actually read the version of that play that college students were reading. He challenged us in that class.
“I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher. Mr. Smith would always tell me that ‘I was going to be something special.’ That meant a lot to me and it’s something that I always took as a badge of honor.
“I had so many teachers at Olney who were supportive and inspired me to be great,” he said. “I knew then the importance of being an educator and how the impact you leave on students’ lives will ultimately impact their future.”
In the coming months, Mumin will host a variety of welcome events to meet students, staff and community members and hear about their educational issues and concerns.