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Published: Thursday, 10/25/2007

New Rossford school chief shows dedication

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Susan Lang Susan Lang
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She hasn't even been on the job for two full weeks and it's obvious Susan Lang is one dedicated administrator.

When she began her job as superintendent of the Rossford school district last week, she arrived at work on Monday afternoon after a conference and didn't leave the district to go home until Friday night.

She plans to continue with that schedule - unless the Rossford Bulldogs host a football game on a Friday. In that case, she plans to head home to Canal Winchester, Ohio, on Saturday.

OK, so the main reason Ms. Lang plans to stay in a local hotel during the school week is because traveling back and forth from Rossford to her home in the village southeast of Columbus would take her five hours a day.

Though the commute is long, she said the Rossford job was one that she couldn't pass up. "I like small districts and small towns because you have a better ability to get to know people and have an influence," said Ms. Lang, who plans to buy a home in the district soon.

The school board unanimously voted in early September to give Ms. Lang a four-year contract with an annual salary of $118,000.

The district's former superintendent, Luci Gernot, left in May to take the assistant superintendent's job at the Wood County Educational Service Center.

John Fernbaugh, the retired superintendent of McComb and Elgin local schools, served as interim superintendent during the summer.

Ms. Lang has more than 17 years of administrative experience, including four years as superintendent of the Canal Winchester school district. In addition, the mother of three grown children holds a bachelor's degree in education from Bowling Green State University, a master's degree in education from Kent State University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Miami University.

Her most recent job was as the executive director of the Ohio Center for Essential School Reform, where she was responsible for managing and directing all services with more than 45 Ohio public school districts, national affiliations, and foundations.

But she said she prefers the more hands-on, personal approach that she can take when she's involved with only one school district, instead of dozens.

"What you miss is the influence you can have every day with one group of people," she said.

Those who are willing to talk should speak up because Ms. Lang said she is ready to listen.

From now until the end of the calendar year, Ms. Lang said she plans to hold focus groups with groups of people - including students, parents, bus drivers, custodians, administrators, teachers, and community members - to learn what people think are the district's strengths, weaknesses, and needed improvements. "I want an overall grade for Rossford and ideas on what I can do to help the district," she said.

Those ideas, coupled with data generated from surveys, will be posted on the district's Web site as a foundation for a plan outlining and prioritizing the goals for the district, Ms. Lang said.

For now, major goals she would like to achieve are to work with the staff to help Rossford obtain an excellent rating from the Ohio Department of Education, see passage of an operating levy, and find out how the staff learns new strategies to help students succeed.

School board members have said they chose Ms. Lang for the job because of her pledge to focus on students and academics. It's something she proved was important to her while at the Ohio Center for Essential School Reform, said Business Manager Linda Harris, who worked for Ms. Lang for about a year.

"She believes in school reform and bringing the academic level up for all students," she said.



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