As he prepares to leave as Grandview Heights High School, principal Ken Chaffin says he feels like he's leaving home to go home.
Chaffin will step down as principal July 31 to take the same position at the Early College High School in the Marysville Exempted Village School District. He has served as Grandview High School principal for five years.
Chaffin and his family live in Marysville. His wife, Elizabeth, teaches in the district and Chaffin graduated from Marysville High School.
"Sometimes you make a decision because it's what's best for your family," Chaffin said. "The ECHS is located only about 4 miles from my home. That's going to be nice.
"So I'm excited about the new position, but it's a bittersweet excitement," he said. "Grandview has meant so much to me and my family the past five years and this district and community has become family to us.
"I don't think that's going to change with my new role," Chaffin said. "Grandview will always be in my heart."
The last five years "have been special in a lot of different ways," he said.
Any educator would be fortunate to lead a school with the kind of dedicated staff, accomplished students and supportive community that exists in Grandview, Chaffin said.
"I'm proud of the work we've done around establishing the culture in our building," he said. "It's a culture of student learning and a culture of positive relationships among students and between students and staff."
It's the bonds he has forged with those students and staff that Chaffin said he will always treasure about his time in Grandview.
"That's the thing I believe matters the most," he said. "We work so hard at this school to know and understand who our students are and what their interests and passions are.
"In 2018, educators know way too much to ignore personalized learning and the significance and impact it can have for students," Chaffin said.
One of the most important areas of focus has revolved around "flattening the hierarchy" in the school so that students have become "a lot more leadership-oriented" and have a greater voice and influence on what happens in their school, he said.
"Many of the initiatives we've done in this school have been successful because our teachers have led and taught differently and our students are willing to commit to them because they trust their teachers," Chaffin said.
"Everything we've accomplished here is due mainly to the effort of our staff and our students," he said.
The goal has been to help students develop the skills "that will transcend high school and have a positive impact and influence on our students as they go through life," Chaffin said. "It's about getting them ready for their future.
"The focus on education in the 21st century is not so much what students know but what they can do with what they know," he said.
Superintendent Andy Culp said Chaffin will be "dearly missed" by students, staff, his colleagues and the community.
"Ken is a remarkable educator and a remarkable leader who made all of us better," Culp said. "Ken always puts students first. His moral compass is resolute and always finds true north.
"Our loss is Marysville's gain," he said. "The impact he's had on our students and our district will be long-lasting."
The pleasure and privilege have been all his, Chaffin said.
"There really aren't words for how fortunate and appreciative I feel about having the opportunity to be here," he said. "My heart is full. I could not love Grandview more. I couldn't be more grateful."