Dana Bedden: Tackling tough challenges to effect change in K-12 schools

October 06, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As he enters his 28th year in K-12 administration, Dana T. Bedden is still highly energized by opportunities to help enhance the field of education — both within individual schools and across entire districts. He also is committed to working together with school boards, staff, parents and the community to create an environment where students can succeed.

Dana Bedden

Penn State alumnus Dana Bedden is superintendent of Centennial School District in Bucks County.

IMAGE: Photo courtesy of Dana Bedden

“I don’t believe in pointing out shortcomings, then not being part of the team that problem solves to find a solution,” said Bedden. “I do believe I have to be the change that I want.”

Bedden, a Florida native, earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport sciences from the University of Florida. A special mentor there — assistant athletic director and former Penn State Nittany Lions tackle Jim Weaver — encouraged Bedden to further his education at Penn State.

“I didn’t go to Penn State right away,” said Bedden. “I taught middle school at Pinellas County Schools for a semester. When Ron Cinnamon, my principal, found out I was accepted to Penn State for graduate school, he jokingly threatened to fire me if I didn’t capitalize on the opportunity. He also assured me that plenty of teaching jobs would be available, if I wanted to come back.”

Ultimately, Bedden’s career took off in surprising ways and he never returned to Pinellas County.

After receiving his master’s degree in educational administration from Penn State, Bedden became the first full-time athletic director for the School District of the City of York. There he would begin a career in teaching and leadership that included many more “firsts,” including first full-time director of the community, athletic and intramural programs for Exeter Township School District in Reading, Pennsylvania; the first outsider to be selected as a superintendent for the Richmond County School System in Augusta, Georgia; and the first minority superintendent in the history of the Irving Independent School District in Irving, Texas. He also held principal posts in District of Columbia Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.

In 2018 Bedden moved back to Pennsylvania when he was selected as the new superintendent of the Boyertown Area School District. He also recruited a diverse team of national experts from both private and public sector organizations to form Bedden & Associates, LLC. The consultants are committed to providing high-quality solutions to federal, state and local education agencies, and their primary mission is to help students reach their individual social-emotional and academic potential.

Reflecting on his career, Bedden said his leadership philosophy helped improve academic achievement and increase parent involvement and community partnerships in every district he has served. He also implemented sound fiscal strategies that helped some districts flip their budgets from a deficit to a surplus.

In September, Bedden embarked on a new phase of his career when he was named superintendent of the Centennial School District in Bucks County. He looks forward to working with district leaders and educators there to enhance teaching and learning performance, experiencing the district’s commitment to equity and diversity, and building solid systems for his successors.

Bedden, who also holds a doctor of education degree in educational leadership and policy studies from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, has not ruled out returning to the classroom someday, albeit in a different capacity.

“After my K through 12 career comes to an end, I would be interested in making the transition to higher education to teach in an educational leadership program,” said Bedden.

Bedden resides in King of Prussia with his daughter, Diana. He has two adult children, Daniel and Avanna.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 06, 2020