Residents and district employees turned out Aug. 4 to greet new Reynoldsburg schools Superintendent Melvin Brown during an event that one board member described as a "packed house."
"It was a packed house the entire time," board President Joe Begeny said. "The conference room was full and the hallways were full of people wanting to meet Mr. Brown.
"We had a good 50/50 mix of everyone, I think, teachers and community members," he said. "There was a lot of optimism in the room."
For his part, Brown said he's ready to greet students when they return to class Aug. 16.
"The first day of school will be a day that I will spend in schools all day, meeting with students in the places where they do dynamic work," he said. "I plan to get to know our students through direct conversations, attending events, being in classrooms and via social media.
"I want our students to be as proud of their district and our staff as we are of them, and I want them to know how much we value them," he said.
Board member Debbie Dunlap said the community gave Brown "a warm welcome" at the open house.
"I think people love that he has embraced the schools and community for the past several weeks, riding in the Fourth of July parade and attending Taste of Reynoldsburg and even things like football practices," she said.
Brown said district staff members are "committed professionals" and he has enjoyed getting to know community members.
"I feel they all aim to do what is right for our kids," he said. "I have greatly enjoyed the interactions, conversations and genuine, community-oriented spirit of the city. They have welcomed me with open arms and I am greatly appreciative of that."
He said people seem to understand that there are still issues to work on in the district that "will not be overcome overnight."
"It will take time, effort and thought to become what we want to be in every aspect," he said. "I believe we have the opportunity to do some incredible work together and that our students and community will be the ultimate beneficiaries of that work."
Brown said he looks forward to continuing the district's STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programming, along with other modes of teaching.
"Good teaching is the linchpin by which we want to be known and there are many other strategic means that we can use to move our instructional programs to even greater heights," he said.
"We want to use that STEM programming as but one vehicle toward a unique type of success for our students and a means to an end. We also want to move to develop more articulated identities for our other programs and begin to emphasize their greatness and vast benefits."
In a letter to parents posted on the district website, Brown said he has been "energized by some of the most caring and sincere people I have ever met, and I am tremendously optimistic about what the future holds for us."
CORRECTIONS: The print version of this story contained errors in the "New principals" section.
Students will see a number of new principals in place this year, although not all are new to the district.
Jamie Johnson will be a new face as she takes on the principal role at Taylor Road Elementary School; she was formerly a principal at Northridge Primary School in the Northridge Local School District.
Breen Slauter, formerly assistant principal at Waggoner Road Junior High School, will step into the principal’s spot at that school to replace Chris Brooks.
Brooks will be principal at Waggoner Road Middle School. He was formerly principal of both the middle school and junior high school on the Waggoner Road campus.
Brian Coffey, formerly principal at Herbert Mills Elementary School, is the new principal at Baldwin Road Junior High School. Mary Ellen Weeks, formerly an instructional coach, replaces him as principal at Herbert Mills.