Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools Superintendent Francis Scruci said he looks forward to the many new teachers and staff members who will welcome students back to class Monday, Aug. 19.
"I'm really, really excited for the kids of this district to have the bright young minds and varying levels of experience coming into the classrooms," he told ThisWeek. "Our kids will be the beneficiaries of very talented teachers. I can't tell you how excited I am to have this bright, energetic group. They will make a huge impact on the district."
When a district loses veteran teachers like G-J did at the end of the 2012-13 academic year, Scruci said, it loses experience.
"But this group is coming in with some excitement, energy, and they're very current in what they've been trained to do," he said. "It's a huge step in the right direction. I can't wait for the kids to meet the new teachers."
In addition to the new teachers, several buildings will have new principals.
Gahanna Middle School South will be led by principal Robin Murdock, and Colon Lewis is Middle School West's new principal. Former MSS principal Kristen Groves is the new principal at Blacklick Elementary School, and Melanie McGue is the new principal at Goshen Lane Elementary School.
Scruci said classes are starting earlier than past years because of changes made to the calendar two years ago.
"It was the thought of trying to end first semester at Christmas break," he said. "That was one of the thoughts behind it. In a traditional calendar, you end at Christmas break and come back after January and then review material kids may have forgotten. Finals were the second and third week of January."
With the semester ending with the Christmas break, he said, learning shouldn't be lost over the holiday and students should begin the year with new materials.
"When you make that transition, you have a short summer," he said.
School will dismiss by May 31 next year, when students should be able to enjoy a longer summer, he said.
"It compressed this summer, but it will work itself out next year," Scruci said.
No matter the timing for the calendar year, he said, the safety of students remains first and foremost, and the district will continue to focus on that.
"All the buildings have had locks installed in the doors," he said. "There's no automatic entrance. You have to be buzzed in. We'll continue to review our plans and make sure teachers are aware of our plans."
Beginning his second year as G-J superintendent, Scruci said, many good things are in place and he'll continue to work toward goals and doing extraordinary things.
"I got in every classroom on opening day last year, and I had the blisters to prove it," he said. "I will try to do that again this year. I may change it up and maybe do more of greeting parents outside. I will be very visible on opening day and throughout the year. It's part of helping kids understand education is important."
Scruci said he would continue to meet with district residents at morning coffees on two Thursdays each month.
"That may expand to have evening opportunities so people who can't get there in the morning can come in the evening," he said. "We'll do this every year, whether we're on ballot or not."
He said he anticipates the school board placing a levy on the May ballot.
"We'll be coming to the community and asking for support for a levy," he said. "We continue to look at ways to try to save money and cut costs. We'll continue to use taxpayer dollars responsibly for the best interest of kids and education."
Scruci said he wants to make sure residents have access to him to discuss concerns.
"A lot of times, you see people doing coffees during election campaigns," he said. "I don't want people to see me the first time because I'm asking for money. I want people to know we're in this together. I want to make the district the best it can be."
The Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District has 84 new staff members this fall. They are:
Lincoln High School -- Natasha Ballard, health; Ryan Callihan, Rachael Dieringer, Jill Evans and Keisha Witfield, intervention specialists; Meredith Heilman, Jennifer Pizzico and Ashley Spriggs, English; Ashley Lawson, art; Sean Mittelman, Heidi Smith and Tyler Winner, math; Sean Branick, Nathan Castorena and Christopher Powell, social studies; Rebekkah Schmidt, science; and Carolyn Toth, French.
Blacklick Elementary School -- Jane Cha and Ashley Gilardi, intervention specialists; Shannon Crackel, second grade; Christian Sauder, third grade; and Sue Park, kindergarten (Blacklick/Jefferson Elementary School).
Chapelfield Elementary School -- Ronald Dimmerling, fifth grade; Michael Ann Effron, instructional support coach; Julie Erford, intervention specialist; Lynzee Fish, first grade; Kristin McIntyre, kindergarten; Casie Vanderlund, third grade; Robyn Kracker, kindergarten (Chapelfield/Goshen Lane); and Lisa Kelley, psychologist (Chapelfield/Lincoln/LHS).
Clark Hall-- Eric White, campus supervisor.
Goshen Lane Elementary School -- Margaret Anderson, third grade; Lauren Guth, first grade; Melissa Kovacs, intervention specialist; Melanie McGue, principal; and Jennifer Stacy, instructional support coach.
High Point Elementary School -- Megan Bradic and Bethany Rak, first grade; Lindsey Donelson, fifth grade; Natalie Jantzen and Rachel Mackie, third grade; and Megan Ryan, fourth grade.
Jefferson Elementary School -- Stacie Callihan and Kory Hartinger, third grade; Ashley McCabe and Nicole Rhinehart, fifth grade; Stephanie Spoerl, kindergarten; and Reggie Wheeler, custodian.
Lincoln Elementary School -- Sara Dunham, third grade; D. Abigail Flannery and Dawn Stanforth, fourth grade; Hannah Tatham, intervention specialist; and Vanessa Hardin (Lincoln/Royal Manor Elementary School), speech pathologist.
Middle School East -- Tesia Dhiraprasiddhi, seventh-grade language arts; Laura Montgomery, eighth-grade language arts; and Meredith Baron, speech pathologist (MSE/Chapelfield).
Middle School South -- Rachel Cornelius, art; Helen Cosner, sixth-grade language arts and social studies; Nancy Donaldson, educational aide; Denver Fowler, assistant principal; Sharon Franke, sixth- and seventh-grade language arts and math; Allison Gering, seventh-grade science; Mallory Hoffman, intervention specialist; Whytnie Strain, educational aide; and Daphne Yost, secretary.
Middle School West -- Christine Hatcher, intervention specialist; Allison Jones, sixth-grade math and science; Kara Kecskemety, math intervention; Colon Lewis, principal; Rebecca Williamson, sixth-grade social studies; and Joan Miller, GATE (all middle schools).
Royal Manor Elementary School -- Staci Collier and Kelly Long, second grade; Brianne Gladieux, art; Lindsey Hanners, intervention specialist; and Britt Ramsey, clerk/typist.
District-wide -- Lisa Forsythe, occupational specialist; Hollie Malinowski and Melissa Vondriska, psychologist interns; Molly Martin, wellness manager; Angela Paluch, adapted physical education; Mallory Sribanditmongkol, public-information officer; and Danielle Weatherholtz, mental-health specialist.