Delaware News

New leaders await Big Walnut students on first day Aug. 14

New principals take reins at 3 school buildings


Some new faces and some familiar ones in leadership positions will greet students and staff as the new school year begins Wednesday, Aug. 14, in the Big Walnut Local School District.

In addition, students and staff will need to be ready for new state initiatives for the 2013-14 school year.

"There always seems to be something new that kind of keeps you energized ... and excited," said Superintendent Steve Mazzi.

The Big Walnut students in leadership was significant during the summer.

Angie Pollock, who had served for several years as the district's director of academic achievement, was promoted to assistant superintendent with the departure of Gary Barber.

Her old job now is filled by former middle school teacher Laura Wood.

Three schools have new principals.

Jeff Jones, former assistant principal at nearby Delaware Hayes High School, has taken over as principal at the high school following the departure of Steve Fujii.

Ryan McLane is the new principal at the intermediate school. He was principal at Utica Junior High School in the North Fork Local School District in Licking County and replaces Steve Butler.

Jennifer Wattenpool (Young) is the new principal at General Rosecrans Elementary School. She previously was assistant principal at the National Heritage Academies in Cincinnati and takes the place of Peggy McMurray.

Also new to the district is Crystal Lynn Starner, who was hired earlier this summer as assistant treasurer. That post had been vacant for several years due to budget cuts. Starner formerly was assistant treasurer with the Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District.

When Jones was hired earlier this summer, he may have echoed the thoughts of all the new hires by telling the school board he really likes the Big Walnut community.

"It was this community that led me to say this is the place I want to be," he said at the June 10 school board meeting.

Mazzi said he hopes the entire staff is ready for the challenges of the new school year.

"We are basically really going to focus this year on state initiatives that include Common Core state standards shift, student learning objectives, online (student) assessments, the third-grade guarantee and OTES (new standards for teacher evaluations)," Mazzi said.

The third-grade guarantee, for example, is mandated by the state beginning with the 2013-14 school year and requires that students read at a certain proficiency level before they can be promoted to the fourth-grade.

The Big Walnut district tested students last school year and only eight of 240 third-graders failed to reach the required level.

Pollock told the school board July 8 that while those numbers are good, teachers will provide extra help for the students who need it now that the mandate is in place.

"Our goal is not to retain students (in the third grade). It rather is to give increased intervention at the fourth-grade level," she said.