If he is elected Nov. 5 to the Grandview Heights school board, Jesse Truett says he'll bring not only a passion for education, but a career's worth of experience.
Truett is one of five candidates running for three board seats. The other candidates are incumbent board President Grant Douglass and write-in candidates Stephanie Evans, Sandy Kipp and John Leutz.
Truett said he's been involved in education his whole life, as a teacher, principal (including a stint at Grandview Heights High School) and for the last two years as a senior director at the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
"I really believe I can add value to the school board because of my background and experience working in education," he said. "You want a diversity of backgrounds on the board. You wouldn't want only educators to serve."
When it became clear last spring that John Kessler was not going to run for re-election, Truett said he was approached by other board members asking him to run.
"I did a lot of thinking about it and met with other board members and thought a lot about what I could do to help strengthen the board," he said.
The current board is a strong, effective board, "and I decided I wanted to be part of the team," Truett said. "In my current job, I work often with the Ohio Department of Education and the Educational Services Center.
"It's an interesting time to be involved in education with the new system of teacher evaluations, third-grade reading guarantee and the Common Core," he said. "I can help educate the other board members on these issues."
Truett said he believes Grandview should strive to give its students "a world-class education," but first the district must work with the community to decide what that means.
With its small size, Grandview has the ability to offer an individualized education to each of its students, he said.
"The words I like to use are challenge and support," Truett said. "We should challenge kids as much as we can and have a support system in place so students can meet those challenges."
In every district, most of the budget is taken up by salaries and benefits, he said.
"I don't want to see programs and classrooms cut, so we need to look at every expenditure and make sure we are spending money in the most efficient and effective ways," Truett said.
Initiatives such as the new state report card, third-grade reading guarantee and Common Core set higher standards for districts to meet, but it should be remembered that they remain minimum standards, he said.
Grandview should continue to strive to reach standards that are well above the minimum, Truett said.
Truett, 38, is married with three children: a kindergarten student and 2-year-old twins.
He has a master's degree in educational policy and leadership from Ohio State University and a bachelor's degree in mathematics and theater from Otterbein University.
He served as principal at Grandview High School from 2008-11. He resigned as principal, citing health and personal reasons. He later acknowledged that, early in his teaching career, he had a long-term romantic relationship with a student who was 18 when the relationship began.
"I feel like I've been very transparent and open to the community about that situation," Truett said. "It was a long and hard decision to resign as principal. My family and I have continued to live in Grandview, because we love the community and it's where my wife and I want to raise our children."