The Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education recently approved a glowing evaluation of Superintendent Gregg Morris.

The Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education recently approved a glowing evaluation of Superintendent Gregg Morris.

"Mr. Morris continues to be an excellent role model for our students, faculty/staff and community. He demonstrates honor, integrity, professionalism and selfless service in all he does," the evaluation states.

The recommendation praises Morris' community-relations skills and personnel management. The evaluation states he recruits and maintains high-caliber staff members and positions in the district are sought out across central Ohio.

"Mentoring several high-level staff vacancies due to retirements will be a positive challenge that awaits Mr. Morris in 2008," the evaluation stated.

Morris exceeded the board's expectations for educational programs by adding an all-day kindergarten option, increasing Advanced Placement courses in history and science and maintaining and improving new and innovative programs.

Along with the evaluation, the board also approved superintendent goals for the 2008-09 school year:

Continue to pursue additional high school facilities -- Kroger site -- by developing a financial and education plan.

Continue implementing instructional programs for students, including all-day kindergarten, elementary foreign language, character education and Jr. ROTC.

Provide for effective transition for success of staff in new leadership programs, including assistant superintendent, director of testing and curriculum, director of technology and coordinator of literacy and gifted education.

Increase community outreach with neighborhood coffees, walks, PTO/PTA meetings, etc.

Review school climate initiatives, including use of school resource officers.

Continue to pursue increased collaboration with Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools programs.

"In addition to the goals, I would tell you that instructional improvement is always a high priority," Morris said.

He said the district continues to aim for each student to receive a year's worth of growth for a year's worth of instruction.

Improving on the state report card continues to be a goal. Gahanna still has to perform better, Morris said.

Plans for the former Kroger site on Hamilton Road continue to be a priority, Morris said. Adding the site would help alleviate some overcrowding in the hall and increase programming options for students, he said.

"We are working hard to see if we can move this toward becoming a reality," he said. "There are still a lot of issues to address."

Communication will continue to be a priority. Morris said some additional "coffee with the superintendent" opportunities and neighborhood walks could be scheduled.

School board member Marlene Eader said one of her biggest priorities is student achievement and the district's continuous-improvement plan. She said with new leadership -- a new assistant superintendent -- the district has to focus on continuous improvement.

"There needs to be additional emphasis on academic achievement," Eader said.

School board member Clair Yoder said priorities will be to implement all-day kindergarten, redistrict and supplement education with a new campus on Hamilton Road.

"Mr. Morris likes to be on the cutting edge," she said. "I like to be on the cutting edge. I think it is wonderful to have the vision."

Yoder said she appreciates Morris' ability to look ahead and find opportunities for growth and improvement.

The elementary foreign-language instructor also is important, Yoder said. The school district was approved for a Chinese guest-teacher grant and a $29,137 grant from the Ohio Department of Education and U.S. Department of Education for a pilot Mandarin Chinese program.

"From my experience in life, I think there is a lot of potential in that program," she said. "I think as you look down the road, that is going to become a really strong program."

School board president Jeff Carson said his three key issues are projects, programs and personnel, with projects being first and foremost on his mind.

Carson said he is excited about the redevelopment of the Kroger site.

"We are really driving innovation on two fronts -- academically with ideas and concepts to put in a new site and, fiscally, how do we pay for it -- with it all being driven by a location right across the street," he said.

As for programs, Carson said, four or five strong programs are a first this year or will begin in the next few years, including elementary foreign language, all-day kindergarten and Jr. ROTC in 2010.

On a personnel level, the district has a new assistant superintendent and several new people in key leadership roles. Carson said he hopes for a smooth transition for those leadership roles.