New principal making rounds in community
Cheryl Schell relishes these laid-back days as she heads into her first school year as Oak Harbor High School principal.
She’s been making a swing through town at morning coffee events accompanied by Superintendent Guy Parmigian and Treasurer Tim Coffman to get to know community members and hear what’s important at the grassroots level.
The Benton-Carroll-Salem Board of Education approved Schell’s three-year contract effective Aug. 1.
“I’ve been looking for a principalship for a while,” the former Fremont Ross High School assistant principal said during a Friday morning stop at the Happy Hour Inn on Water Street. And the neighboring Benton-Carroll-Salem School District seemed like a good fit, she said. “The community has a good reputation. The school has a good reputation.”
The job posting attracted 25 applicants. A selection committee comprised of teachers, administrators, a secretary and maintenance worker whittled that number down to eight and then the final two which included Schell, Superintendent Guy Parmigian said.
Schell’s record stood out for a number of reasons, the superintendent said, especially her understanding of curriculum instruction, a desire to build strong relationships with all district shareholders (the kids, staff, parents, community and businesses) as well as her belief in the importance of extra-curricular activities in student life. She worked as a teacher in the Fremont school system for 15 years before serving as an administrator another nine years there.
“For us, she’s the real deal,” Parmigian smiled.
The Defiance native earned her master’s degree in curriculum instruction.
“There are managers of buildings and there are educational leaders … I’m an educational leader,” Schell said. “As a professional, you have to be reflective on best practices.”
For now, Schell will still live at her Ballville Township home where her family is engrained in the community. Her husband works a guidance counselor at Fremont Ross High School. Her son begins his junior year and her daughter heads off to Columbus this fall for her first year at The Ohio State University.
It was, Schell admitted, the perfect time for her to make a change, with her family’s blessing of course.
She figures the extra ride time home along Ohio 19 will provide that necessary decompression time – a time to reflect on the day’s activities and those ahead.
Former B-C-S board president Jane Friemark stopped to chat with the group. She had questions about the district’s income, when it hosted post-season football games, special music events and if the revenues covered expenses such as lights and staffing.
While Friemark retired from the school board after 20 years of service, she still offers time to the district by serving on the curriculum committee.
They talked of new testing guidelines, stricter federal regulations for student meals and, of course, about sports.
“I hear we are playing St. Joe’s this year. We played them years ago. They were our nemesis,” Friemark chuckled.
Parmigian and Schell moved on to a group of male coffee drinkers gathered at table at the back of the business. “Good morning, Guy,” one said as the two seated themselves.
Schell also planned to accompany Parmigian and Coffman to the county fair. “We have a number of students involved in the livestock sale through 4-H and the FFA. They like to see us out there,” Parmigian said.
The new principal’s hiring came on the heels of Parmigian promoting the previous principal, Keith Thorbahn, to an administrator’s position in the main board office.
It is one of a number of administrative changes under way over the summer as the clock ticks down to the start of the 2014-15 school year.
The district also recently hired Laramie Spurlock to replace middle school assistant principal Don Christie, who took a job at Perrysburg schools. And the search is nearly finished to find a new district director of information technology. Sherry Priesman recently resigned to join the North Coast Educational Service Center.
“She’s done a very nice job for us,” Parmigian said. “She’s a very hard worker.”
School starts Aug. 26. And the first football game is set for Friday, Aug. 29.
Excitement is building for that night’s debut of the new high school band uniforms. Band boosters worked over the last year to raise the $50,000 to replace the aging uniforms.
“Those uniforms really needed changing,” Friemark agreed. The cowboy hat was out-of-date and the pants styled with a zipper in the back was not a well-thought out design, she said. “You needed two people to go the bathroom. Someone had to help you unzip,” she said.