Barbara Harrison has been clanging the Canal Winchester Local School District bell to welcome students back to class for 36 years, but when the new school year starts this fall, she will be absent from her job as assistant superintendent.
After 38 years in education, Harrison announced earlier this year that she would retire July 1. Kiya Hunt will leave her current job as principal at Pickerington High School North to replace her.
"I love the Canal Winchester school district, students, staff and community," Harrison said. "I feel like it is time. Change is good -- for me and for the district."
When Harrison started her career in 1976 after earning her bachelor of science degree from Eastern Kentucky University, she went to work for her alma mater, the Berne Union School District, as a physical education teacher and varsity girls basketball and softball coach for two years.
She continued her athletic endeavors with Canal Winchester schools as a teacher and coach of volleyball, track and field and basketball teams. During that time, she also earned her master's degree from Ohio State University.
While some of her track and field students still hold records for the school district in the mile relay and discus events, her basketball coaching statistics are just as impressive.
Harrison's overall record is 126 wins and 18 losses, with two undefeated seasons, four Mid-State League championships, three district championships and two regional runner-ups.
Those statistics earned her a spot as coach for several all-star games, coach of the state McDonald's All Star game in 1983, and induction into the Canal Winchester Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.
In 1984, Harrison left coaching behind to serve as the district's athletics director.
During her 11 years in that position, she served the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) in many roles. Harrison was the first woman to be elected to the Central District Athletic Board and the OHSAA State Board of Control, a post she held for 18 years.
She served as president and vice president of the OHSAA numerous times and was president of the State Board of Control for one year.
She was named Athletic Director of the Year for 1989-90 by the Central District Basketball Officials Association and was honored by the Central District Officials as Athletic Director of the Year in 1992-93.
In 1995, Harrison was named middle school principal in Canal Winchester and served in that capacity until she was promoted to assistant superintendent in 1998.
During her career in Canal Winchester, Harrison was received the Milt Will Service Award in 1993 from the high school student council, the district William H. McCann Golden Apple Award for 1993-1994, and was inducted into the Mid-State League Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.
During her "wonderful, long ride" Harrison said, she is proud of the many different capacities in which she has been able to serve the district, including being able to hire "outstanding staff members who continue the academic excellence of Canal Winchester Schools, year in and year out."
"Our staff is some of the hardest-working individuals I know and they always keep the best interests of the students at heart," she added.
Harrison said she also is proud of the creation of the Canal Winchester Athletic Hall of Fame and the construction of the stadium in 1993 during her tenure.
She said the most difficult part of her career was in 2011 when the district was forced to lay off 52 employees -- people she had hired over the years -- because of financial difficulties.
"It was a very sad time for our district," Harrison said.
She said she looks forward to spending more time with her three school-aged children, Trevor, Travis and Tori, and her siblings. She plans to do some traveling, spend time on projects at home and, of course, keep very busy attending the activities of her children in Canal Winchester schools.
And when the school bell rings this fall, Harrison said she will return to the district as a parent and volunteer.