Dear Members of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf Community,

On Monday, April 4, 2022, the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) shared the news that Peter L. Bailey, our highly-esteemed Head of School, would be stepping down from his position at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. At that time, the board announced the formation of a search committee led by Dr. Elizabeth Moore, member of the Board of Trustees and a PSD alumna. Today, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to share that the Board unanimously decided to name Melissa Draganac-Hawk, PSD’s current Director of Student Affairs and a lifelong educator, as the Interim Head of School for a two-year term beginning on July 1, 2023.

This decision follows two months of extensive work undertaken by PSD’s Search Committee, including meetings with three national search firms. Key factors that informed the search included several searches currently underway for Head of School positions at Deaf educational institutions across the country. After exploring multiple paths forward, it became clear that appointing Melissa was the best outcome for the school.

Melissa Draganac-Hawk is a Deaf Latina/x woman with over 20 years of experience in the education field. A first-generation American of deaf immigrant Peruvian parents, Ms. Draganac-Hawk received a master’s degree in Linguistics and two bachelor’s degrees in Theater Production & Performance and American Sign Language from Gallaudet University. She has previously held numerous roles at PSD, including serving as Principal of Early Childhood Education, and has served as an adjunct professor of American Sign Language at the University of Pennsylvania.

Peter Bailey, who participated in the process along with the Board of Trustees, states: “I am thrilled about the Board’s decision to appoint Melissa Draganac-Hawk to the Interim Head of School role. Melissa and I have worked together closely since I started in 2016, and I am confident in her ability to lead the school. We will continue to work together to carry on the school’s mission, and to ensure a smooth transition.”

“I am excited to take on these new responsibilities, and to continue upholding PSD’s long tradition of excellence in Deaf education,” states Melissa Draganac-Hawk. “ I look forward to working with Peter, the Board of Trustees, and PSD’s tight-knit community of students, families, staff, alumni and partners to build upon the great strides we have made over the past six years.”

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank the Search Committee for their hard work, and to salute them for their excellent outcome. Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Melissa to her new role.


Margaret W. Steele
Chair, PSD Board of Trustees