As she prepares to leave the South-Western City Schools Board of Education after serving 12 years and three terms, Mindy Garverick describes herself as grateful for the opportunity to serve.

"It has been a gift to be able to work and serve alongside some of the finest teachers, administrators, parents and students and my colleagues on the board," Garverick said.

"There's so much we've been able to achieve in our district, and I'm grateful for the chance to play a small part in those achievements," she said.

Those highlights include South-Western's Ohio Facilities Construction Commission projects, which resulted in construction of 13 new elementary buildings, a new Franklin Heights High School and improvements to two other elementary school buildings in phase one and plans to build four new middle school buildings and improve two others in phase 2, Garverick said.

"We've seen our graduation rate increase to a record level (87.9% for the 2018-19 school year), and we were able to establish all-day, every-day kindergarten with my board colleague Cathy Johnson taking the lead on that," she said. "Our test scores are going up.

"The last 12 years have seen a lot of major milestones and I'm proud to have been a part of that," Garverick said. "I think we've reshaped the fabric of the community and the school district and added more transparency to what we do.

"We're in a good place right now in South-Western," she said.

Garverick first ran for the school board in 2007 and was reelected in 2011 and 2015. She was board president this year.

"At the time I first ran for the school board, I had been serving on the Southwest Public Libraries board and I always knew I wanted to do something more," she said. "The opportunity to run for the school board came up when Gary Leasure was stepping down, so I decided to run.'

"There really wasn't any compelling issue that influenced me to run," Garverick said. "It was more a general desire to do my part to help support our school district."

South-Western has greatly enhanced its effort to meet the social and emotional needs of its students, but Garverick said she is leaving office wishing the district could do even more in those areas.

"We have a couple social worker positions we haven't been able to fill because people aren't applying," she said. "I didn't realize when I first ran for the board how much of a need students have for social services and mental-health services.

"A student's well-being emotionally, socially and at home is connected to their academic success," Garverick said. "I wish we had the resources to do more for our students."

Garverick has provided "a legacy of leadership" during her time on the board and helped guide the board through implementing the first OFCC building, which was approved by voters during one of her previous stints as board president, and preparing for the upcoming second phase, board member Lee Schreiner said.

"I've served with her for six years and she's always been a model of what a school board member should be," Schreiner said. "She's easy to work with and always wants what's best for our students.

"She's a really good person and she's going to be missed on the school board," he said.