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Published: Wednesday, 3/30/2005

Woodmore: Keller, principal who gave extra hand in many ways, set to retire

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ted Keller will retire as principal of Woodmore Elementary School after 30 years of teaching and administrative work. Ted Keller will retire as principal of Woodmore Elementary School after 30 years of teaching and administrative work.
LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge

Those who work alongside him say he never sticks to doing what's absolutely necessary - Woodmore Elementary School Principal Ted Keller always does more.

He will work weekends and during vacation, if necessary, and has gladly given students rides home when they've missed the bus, said Secretary Amy Eppink.

"Mr. Keller goes over and above to help in any way," she said. "I've never seen a principal bend over backwards to help out. He rolls up his sleeves and teaches a class if a teacher has to leave. He'll cover it gladly."

But after this school year, officials will have to find someone else willing to fill in when those situations arise. After 30 years of teaching and working as an administrator, Mr. Keller, 53, of Fostoria, said he is ready to retire.

But he'll leave knowing that during his five years as principal in the Woodville school, he helped the elementary-school curriculum become more aligned with state standards. He said he accomplished that goal by ordering new textbooks for one subject each year to match with state content standards.

"In the five years, everything seems in place," he said. "At this point we seem more caught up than everyone else."

He said he was also able to give the four teachers at each grade level a common planning time almost every weekday so they are able to plan and discuss situations in their grade levels together.

"It was such an easy staff to work with," he said. "They made these improvements really easy."

Mr. Keller was born near Dayton in Trotwood, Ohio, and attended school in the Trotwood-Madison City School District where his mother was a cafeteria worker and his dad was a bus driver.

He said his parents influenced him and his four siblings to pursue careers in education. So, after graduating from Trotwood-Madison in 1970, he graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1975 with a degree in elementary education. He received his master's degree in administration from BGSU in 1981.

He landed his first teaching job at Bettsville Local Schools in Bettsville, Ohio, where he taught sixth grade and fourth grade for eight years apiece, then taught at the district's new middle school.

"It's a very small school, so I taught all kinds of subjects," he said, adding that his favorite subject to teach was math. "I seemed to be able to get the concepts across to the kids best in that, and I just really enjoyed it."

After 22 years of teaching, he began working in administration for the last three years of his career at Bettsville, becoming the elementary school principal along with his role as the high school athletic director.

"It's a big switch," he said, adding that he didn't feel ready to pursue the administrative route immediately after receiving his master's degree. "But there was an opening, and I gave it a shot, and I have enjoyed it ever since."

He took another shot in 2000 to land his current position as principal of Woodmore Elementary. "I'm so glad I got the job here," he said. "I could not be in a better spot in my career at this point. The fun part is the interaction with the kids."

And the students feel the same way about Mr. Keller, said Marcia Harman, elementary and special education secretary.

"The children just really like him," she said. "He has a good rapport with the kids. He has a way with talking to the kids so they understand him."

But Mr. Keller admitted that he is looking forward to retirement, which he said will include watching sports - especially college basketball, professional football, and baseball - and traveling throughout the United States with his wife, Vicki, who recently retired from teaching as well.

"I've been going to school since I was 5 years old," Mr. Keller said. "It will be so neat to have those months off to see what the real world is like outside of education."

The Woodmore Local Board of Education last week approved a two-year contract with Joe Wank as the new elementary school principal.

Superintendent Mike Eaglowski said Mr. Wank, a fifth-grade math teacher who has been at the elementary school for 13 years, was chosen for the position from a pool of about 20 applicants.



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