Dan Creps doesn't officially become principal of Perrysburg's Woodland Elementary School until Aug. 1, but the educator already is planning his first days on the job.
"I'll be in there before Aug. 1," he said. "When I see teachers and others in the building, I like to introduce myself. More important, I like to get to know them. My style is collaborative. I'll sit down and seek their input. I think we can come up with a shared vision of what we want at Woodland."
Mr. Creps, 41, has been in education for 14 years. He comes to the Perrysburg schools from the Sylvania district, where he is principal of Sylvan Elementary.
He has also done a stint as assistant principal at Arbor Hills Junior High, and taught sixth-grade English and reading at Timberstone Junior High and Whiteford Elementary.
Mr. Creps was one of two elementary-school principals the school board hired June 18. The other was Scott Best of Delaware, Ohio, who will be principal at Fort Meigs.
Mr. Creps and his wife, Kris, and their four children live in Perrysburg. His daily drive to work will be shortened by about 25 minutes, he said - to five minutes.
"I had a wonderful time in Sylvania," he said. "My years there were good ones. I'm very much looking forward to being in the Perrysburg schools. I had a wonderful time in Sylvania, but now I have an opportunity to live and work in the same community."
Indeed, two of Mr. Creps' sons, Collin, 7, and Griffin, 5, will be students at Woodland under his principalship. His oldest child, daughter Madison, 11, is at the junior high. His youngest, son Rowan, is 3.
At Woodland, Mr. Creps replaces Sue Helminger, who is retiring after 14 years as the school's well-regarded and popular principal.
"It's always tough to replace somebody who has been such a fixture in the Perrysburg community for so long," school board President Walter Edinger said. "But I think he really has people skills and will mesh well with the Woodland family."
The selection process was grueling, involving videotaped interviews with groups of parents, teachers, and administrators, said Aura Norris, the district's director of human resources.
"Dan has proven success at Sylvania. He has a great background. In the interviews, you find out if the candidate is going to be a good fit. In all the interviews, he came out among the top," she said.
Mr. Creps grew up in Rossford and graduated from high school there. After earning a bachelor's degree in speech and English at Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, he went to work for a radio station in Erie, Pa., writing copy and selling advertising.
"I quickly discovered this was not an avenue I wanted to pursue," he said.
Returning home to Rossford, Mr. Creps took a job with the city's recreation department and found he liked working with youth. His brother, Joe, a teacher near Dayton, persuaded him to give education a try. He enrolled at the University of Toledo full time and earned his accreditation, keeping body and soul together with a job at The Andersons. His first teaching job was at Whiteford Elementary in Michigan.
"What my earlier experiences did for me was give me a deeper appreciation for the academic setting," he said.
For him, one of the best parts of being an educator is: "You see kids growing. You see them developing. It feels good to know you have a part in that. I find that so much more rewarding than I did selling advertising packages at a radio station."
In his view, a school has a responsibility to educate, but its obligations don't end there. Teachers and administrators must prepare children to be civil adults and citizens, and this means "instilling values of honesty, trust, and respect. They just have to be woven into the fabric of reading and writing," he explained.
"I think to give kids the greatest potential for success, you have to instill these values," he said.