Alumni of the Year 2015

Lancaster Mennonite School honored two of its alumni as the 2015 Alumni of the Year for their work at furthering God’s kingdom in the community and living out Lancaster Mennonite’s mission. Rhoda Reinford (1972) Charles and William Poole (1979) were recognized during the school’s Fall Festival Music Concert on October 2, sharing their personal experiences at LMS and the impact the school had on their lives.

Rhoda Reinford (1972) Charles

Rhoda Charles (1972) was recognized for serving the Church, the school and the Lancaster community as an exemplary church leader, educator and businessperson. In granting the award, the school noted, “Her style has been to empower and encourage, facilitating the work of others without calling attention to herself. Yet, her effectiveness in transforming lives and changing our world has not gone unnoticed.”

The former Rhoda Reinford enrolled in Lancaster Mennonite High School as a junior and lived in the school residence hall. “I have great memories of making many new friends in the girls’ dorm,” she recounted. “Singing in Campus Chorale, giving music programs in various churches and going on tour together forged friendships and deepened my love for the Church.”

“Teachers and classmates really encouraged me to develop my gifts. Teachers also shared their own faith in a way that served as a positive example.”

After graduating in 1972, Charles received her B.S. degree in Home Economics Education from Eastern Mennonite University in 1976. From 1976 until 1979, she taught in the Home Economics Department at Lancaster Mennonite High School, where she met and married Jonathan Charles, who taught social studies and photography.

For 33 years she and her husband operated their own photography business, Charles Studio, that provided considerable in-kind contributions for many churches and schools. From 1994-2000 she was a member of the Board of the former Kraybill Mennonite School, now a campus of LMS, serving as chair from 1996-2000. From 2002-2008, she served as president of Mennonite Women of Lancaster Conference and, from 2010-2014, she was chair of the board of Mennonite Women USA.

In her home congregation, Habecker Mennonite Church, Charles teaches an adult Sunday school class, serves as worship leader and gives leadership to the sewing circle. Since 2008, she and her husband have been leaders in helping the Habecker congregation welcome and resettle ethnic Karen refugees from Burma to form a unique intercultural congregation.

Charles has three adult sons who are all LMS graduates: Nathan (1998), Derrick (2001) and Michael (2005). “Because Jonathan and I both graduated from LMH, and then both taught here after graduating from college, it was clearly an important value of ours to pass on. We believe that the school provides Christian values woven into the curriculum and modeled through the lives of teachers.”

“The friendships they formed, and the community of faith that stretched their world, reinforced what we tried to live as a family. We are blessed by the way each of our sons has chosen to develop his gifts for serving God.”

Along with having four biological grandchildren, she and Jonathan also serve as grandparents for six Karen children from Habecker Mennonite Church who attend school at the New Danville Campus.

Charles said, “I continue to support LMS because I care about an education that is Christ-centered and encourages students to develop their gifts to be shared as followers of Jesus. I really like that the LMS graduate profile includes academic, spiritual, and life style components.”

William K. “Bill” Poole (1979)

Along with Charles, the school also recognized alumnus William K. Poole. A leader in the Lancaster business community and at his church, LCBC, Poole was the founding president of Hometown Heritage Bank and is now with Integrity Bank – A Division of S&T Bank. In granting the award, Superintendent J. Richard Thomas said, “Bill is thoughtful, insightful and committed to following Jesus and strengthening Lancaster Mennonite School and Christian faith in Central Pennsylvania.”

Poole was recently was a leader in the acquisition of the Hershey Christian School as Lancaster Mennonite’s fifth campus. In his acceptance speech, Poole said, “It was very rewarding to bring two quality schools together with a common mission of serving students and impacting their lives.”

About his LMS days, Poole joked, “I remember many trips to the school office for discussions with then-assistant principal Richard Thomas, but they were not about school mergers.” However, on a serious note, Bill related how Mr. Thomas “challenged me as a man and a leader. That simple challenge changed my entire year.”

Poole expressed appreciation for other relationships forged at LMS. “I feel very blessed to have made many lifelong friends at LMS. Most precious to me is my high school sweetheart and wife of 33 years” Diane K. Lehman (1980).

The Poole’s three daughters also graduated from Lancaster Mennonite: Sara (2005), Mary (2008) and Caroline (2010). “The biggest compliment I can give LMS is that we entrusted the school with educating and helping us raise our three girls. Each one was provided a solid education grounded in Christ, which is evident in their lives today.”

After graduating from Lancaster Mennonite High School in 1979, Poole went to Millersville University where he received his B.S. degree in Business Administration/Management in 1983. Soon afterward, he began his banking career as a management trainee at the Bank of Lancaster County, the lead bank of Sterling Financial Corp. After 15 years of increasing responsibility at Sterling Financial, ultimately serving as Executive Vice President, he left Sterling in 1998 to form HomeTowne Heritage Bank, where he was founding president, CEO and a director.

Throughout his career, Poole has served on boards and committees of various other organizations such as the Pennsylvania Bankers Association, Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, Family Services of Lancaster, Hospice of Lancaster County, Community First Fund, Lancaster Mennonite School, Millersville University Foundation, Town & Country Leasing and Bank of Lancaster County. He currently serves as the chairman of the board for Sight & Sound Theatre Co., Strasburg, PA, and is also on the board of directors of the Ambassador Foundation of Lancaster Bible College.