Friday, May 10, 2013

Supplemental Materials for the May 13, 2013 Meeting of the School Board

Here are the documents provided to the School Board in connection with our meeting, to be held at 7pm on Monday May 13, 2013 at Heritage Middle School.

It's always rewarding to read the several pages of names of seniors who will be awarded diplomas in just two weeks. This is why public school districts exist, and this list represents the long, successful effort of thousands of students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators, plus the whole of our community via your substantial financial support.

Congratulations and well done!

Among the many personnel actions are the resignations of principals Brian Blum of Horizon Elementary, Jane Leach of Beacon Elementary, and Dave Stewart of Bradley High School.

Brian and Dave have been offered positions in other school districts, positions that represent the next step in their careers. We have a great cadre of leaders in our school district, which is a tribute to our top executives, Dale McVey and Brian Wilson. But the management structure of a school district narrows pretty quickly from the twenty-two principals who lead our school buildings to the handful of executive positions at the Central Office. Couple that with the fact that we've had only two Superintendents over thirty years, and there just aren't that many opportunities for advancement from the principal level.

So we have to expect that we'll occasionally lose some great leaders in whom we have invested much, and who have given us much, as they seek to further their careers. I think it's a outstanding achievement for an organization when it becomes a place from which others recruit their leaders, such as Superintendent Dr. Thomas Tucker of Worthington City Schools and Treasurer Melissa Lee of Delaware City Schools.

Such is the case with Brian, who will become the principal at Daniel Wright Elementary in Dublin City Schools; Dave who will be the new Deputy Superintendent for South Western City Schools; and Steve Estepp, who is the new Superintendent for Mariemont City Schools.

At the same time, we welcome to the Hilliard team new principals Betsy Long (Beacon), Hilary Sloat (Horizon), Jon Wray (Brown).

Jane Leach is a lifelong education warrior who has decided to end her season in public school administration and move on to pursuits that give her more flexibility with her time. Education and community service is in her DNA: her father is Joe Davis, who was the highly respected Superintendent of Columbus City Schools from 1977 to 1982 - leading that huge district through the extremely difficult period when the federal lawsuit of Penick vs Columbus Board of Education was litigated. This is the lawsuit which culminated in the order by Judge Robert Duncan for Columbus Schools to implement busing, with the intention being to eliminate racial segregation. The consequence has been exactly the opposite, as it led to the "White Flight" that caused the suburban districts like Hilliard to explode, and led eventually to the Win-Win Agreement.

Jane had a front row seat to all this, eventually becoming a principal in Columbus City Schools, a role she held for more than twenty years until we had the opportunity to bring her to Hilliard as principal of Beacon Elementary.

I've had the privilege of getting to know Jane well while serving as one of many volunteers of a faith-based organization called the Columbus Tutoring Initiative, part of Mission Columbus. I thought I was facilitating a new connection when I introduced Jane to Tyler Flynn, the founder of Mission Columbus. It turns out that they have long known each other, as Tyler modeled the Columbus Tutoring Initiative after a program Jane had established when she was principal at Highland Elementary School in the Hilltop. Jane continues to be involved with the Hilltop Preschool.

Jane was eager to let us start a similar program at Beacon, and this year we had nineteen wonderful volunteers who worked one-on-one with nineteen first graders during one lunch hour per week, under the professional guidance of first grade teacher Ellen Harpham - yet another jewel in our district - and Natalie Swider, a volunteer who did a fantastic job of coordinating the efforts of the rest of the volunteers.

Being in Beacon every week has been a positive, meaningful experience for all of us - volunteers and kids alike - who participated in this program, and it was in no small part due to the way Jane leads her team of outstanding professionals. Thank you Jane for your many years of service to public education, and for your leadership in our district.

And for any of you who might want to participate in this lunchtime reading program, we'll again be reading with kids at Beacon next year. Go here to learn more about the program, and if interested, send in an application. We are also in the early stages of developing the same program at Hilliard Crossing Elementary, hopefully with the sponsorship of a nearby church. These lunchtime reading programs are spreading across the region, and we believe we have a proven model which can be replicated in any elementary school. All it needs is a sponsoring organization and a set of volunteers to come forward - churches make for wonderful partners.

How about yours? If your organization might like to sponsor a lunchtime reading program, please shoot an email to me.


  1. I was sad to see Dave Stewart moving on. My family has been a part of Bradley since day one with my oldest daughter graduating in a couple of weeks, the first class to spend all 4 years at Bradley. We have 4 more to go as our youngest enters next fall.

    My girls are in the band and as such we've been to many events - concerts, games, contests as well as academic events and parent meetings - in the past 4 years. I don't think I've been to one where Mr. Steward wasn't present. His commitment to the school and the kids has been remarkable and put the school on a solid footing from day one.

    He will be greatly missed.

    1. Our experience was the same at Darby: our oldest was part of the first batch of kids to attend Darby, having started her high school years at the "Transition Building" (now Memorial Middle School) under the leadership of principal Jeff Reinhard. Both of these leaders are cut from the same cloth.