Beth Christoff, principal of Perrysburg's Toth Elementary School, has been named the state's 2008 Distinguished Principal of the Year by the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators.
In October, she will represent Ohio at the National Distinguished Principals program in Washington, and will be recognized at a luncheon in Columbus.
"Beth is eminently qualified for it," said Jerry Latta, a former elementary principal in Defiance and one of the association's evaluators.
Tom Hosler, superintendent of the Perrysburg schools, agreed.
"Beth is just an outstanding person, principal, and educator. I go into her building and I see boys go out of their way to get a hug from her. She has this connection," Mr. Hosler said.
Mr. Latta noticed that during his time at Toth.
Ms. Christoff prides herself on knowing the names of all 520 Toth students.
But Mr. Latta said her professionalism extends beyond having good rapport with kids.
"She knows that good principals are the result of good teachers, and the teachers know that she knows this. In talking with the staff, I saw that the teachers look at her as a leader," he said.
Ms. Christoff said she doesn't know who nominated her, but suspects it was a parent.
The result is an award that has left Ms. Christoff feeling a little self-conscious about the attention she has received.
Her staff is not reticent at all.
"We have the best principal there is," said Kathy Burkey, Toth's secretary.
"They don't make them any better than this lady," said Tammi Haigh, a Toth paraprofessional who works with special-needs students.
Ms. Christoff is in her eleventh year as Toth principal. She declined to give her age but said she has been a public school administrator for 23 years. Before that, she did a stint as an art teacher.
She grew up in Parma Heights, Ohio, and lives in Maumee with her husband, Mark.
At Toth, she's known for putting in long hours, including working weekends, Mr. Latta said.
"One of the questions we asked during the site visit was 'What would you change about Beth?' Almost always, the answer was: 'She needs to take more time for herself.' If you call on a weekend, chances are you'll find her there. If you e-mail her at night, chances are you'll get a reply that same evening," Mr. Latta said. "The reason she's there on weekends is that during the workday, she's not living in her office."
Ms. Christoff said she's focused on maintaining Toth's state rating of excellent.
"Last year, we met all 10 of the state's indicators. I want to keep that performance up," she said.