OTTAWA LAKE - Jeff Humason was 8 years old and riding his bike in his native South Toledo when Dick Gunn first began patrolling the halls of Whiteford's combination middle/high school 28 years ago as that school's principal.
Today, the 36-year-old Mr. Humason - until last week the principal at McTigue Junior High in Toledo - takes over that beat after he was unanimously selected last week by the Whiteford Board of Education to succeed Mr. Gunn, who retired at the end of June.
Mr. Humason credits his quick advancement into administration as the product of his long association with Toledo Public Schools, but said being a principal has its ups and downs.
"I've gotten a lot of gray hair from it," he joked. "I've been very fortunate in my career. It's very difficult to leave Toledo, because it's a great place to grow. They've provided me a lot of great learning opportunities."
Mr. Humason's credentials, potential , and enthusiasm helped him win the position outright, Mr. Haugen said.
"An important quality of leadership is integrity, and that's what he displays," Mr. Haugen said. "He's got a good vision for teaching and learning."
Mr. Humason was chosen from among 30 applicants because of the educational experiences he amassed in the Toledo Public Schools system and because of his vitality and rapport with students, said Whiteford Superintendent Craig Haugen. Filling the position was one of Mr. Haugen's first tasks since he took over the district from John Gasidlo last month.
"His references speak very highly of him as a man of integrity and with a great rapport with the students," Whiteford's new superintendent said.
"Narrowing the candidates down was difficult, but in the end, Jeff clearly stood alone."
Today's new job at Whiteford will mark only the second time in Mr. Humason's life that he hasn't either attended classes or worked in the Toledo Public Schools district.
A 1986 graduate of Bowsher High School, he received his bachelor's and master's degrees in education from the University of Toledo.
He joined the district as a visual arts teacher working in a number of different schools, becoming an assistant principal at Sherman Elementary four years ago before moving to McTigue in 2002.
Mr. Humason said he's looking forward to the opportunity of working in a much smaller school - Whiteford's sixth-through-12th grade middle/high school only has about half the students of McTigue - allowing him to have more of an impact on his students' young lives.
"I was thinking that it would be one of the perks of the job, that I would be able to know more students and get to know them better," Mr. Humason said.
He said that his educational philosophy is one of academic excellence, coupled with a realization that the school must be a friendly place.
"I want people to be comfortable. I want them to feel like this is a place where they can learn and grow and mature into caring young adults," the married father of three said. "I want it to be a place where families are welcome and where families are nurtured; where young people are cultivated into the best that they can be."