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Published: Wednesday, 8/15/2007

Director-of-instruction post filled after 2-years, causing change at the high school

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Assistant Principal Rhonda Jemison, from left, Assistant Principal Libby McIlwain, Principal Steve Gwin, and Assistant Principal and Director of Athletics Robb Brown meet to discuss policies and make plans for the school year. Assistant Principal Rhonda Jemison, from left, Assistant Principal Libby McIlwain, Principal Steve Gwin, and Assistant Principal and Director of Athletics Robb Brown meet to discuss policies and make plans for the school year.
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There are new jobs for old faces and a new face in a new job at Springfield Local Schools.

Michael O'Shea, who was high school principal for six years and middle school assistant principal for two years before that, is now the district's director of instruction, a post that had been vacant for two years as a cost-saving measure.

"We are pleased to staff this position again after a two-year gap," Springfield Superintendent Cynthia Beekley said. "We have a stack of work that has been put on hold during this time.

In addition, new expectations from the state of Ohio need to be met in the areas of curriculum and instruction."

At the high school, Steve Gwin, an assistant principal under Mr. O'Shea, is principal, and Rhonda Jemison has joined his staff as one of his assistant principals.

Ms. Jemison comes to Springfield from the Bedford Public Schools.

Libby McIlwain remains an assistant principal, as does Robb Brown, who also is athletic director.

We are thrilled to add Rhonda Jemison to our excellent high school admin istrative team of Mr. Steve Gwin, Mrs. Libby McIlwain, and Mr. Robb Brown, Ms. Beekley said.

Ms. Jemison comes to us with eight years of high school administrative experience, and her skills, knowledge, and ability to work with people will enhance a very dynamic team. Mr. Gwin, in assuming the role of principal, brings a strong knowledge of the community and excellent administrative skills to his new position, she said.

Mr. O Shea said he will be responsible for educational programs, which he said are really part of the back bone of what a school system is about. He said education is less about bricks and mortar and more about individual attention.

It s a connection to a student, one stu dent at a time, Mr. O Shea said. The best teachers find a way to make that con nection.

His own experience as a student holds true today, Mr. O Shea said. The best teachers were the ones who required a lot, who wouldn t let me off the hook, he said.

One-on-one rapport between a teacher and student can mean the difference between academic success and failure, he said. He urges teachers to encourage extracurricular activities and attend them.

The minute a kid believes you want what s best for him, he ll walk over hot coals for you, he explained.

Mr. O Shea described Springfield schools as an urban school district in a suburban setting, and cites statistics from the Ohio Department of Education in support.

According to the state, 33 percent of Springfield students qualify for free or reduced lunch, 25 percent are minority, and 17 have special needs.

Diversity, Mr. O Shea insisted, is more than a feel-good term to praise.

We have kids who speak Chinese Man darin and Cantonese as a first language. We have kids who speak Japanese. We once had to find a Swahili interpreter, he explained.

Across Hall Street, in the high school, Mr. Gwin and his staff were eagerly awaiting the new school year.

Not that they don t expect difficulties.

I have nine teachers new to the building, Mr. Gwin, a former head football coach at the high school, explained. We have 18 people in different positions. That s close to one-third of our staff. That s our first challenge right there.

But he has two seasoned staffers in Ms. McIlwain and Mr. Brown. Ms. Jemison, who is the newcomer, has plenty of experience too. She arrives at Springfield after seven years at Bedford High School and seven years in the Toledo Public Schools, where she was both an administrator and a teacher. At Springfield High School, she will be in charge of the office that oversees atten dance.

Freshmen start classes Aug. 27, a day before the other three classes. The early start date should make for a less stress ful introduction to the high school, Mr. Gwin says.

When they go from the eighth grade to high school, I think it s the biggest jump in their educational career, he said. There s a lot of anxiety, I m sure. We want them to be more successful and more comfortable when they come here.

The high school has a corps of upper class volunteers to act as mentors to the freshmen.



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