Delaware Area Career Center: Jay Poroda ready to step into superintendent role

Paul Comstock
ThisWeek

Educating students at Ohio's public career centers involves more than just providing them with technical skills, according to Jay Poroda, who will become the Delaware Area Career Center's new superintendent in June.

Poroda, 51, is assistant superintendent at Tolles Career & Technical Center in Plain City. He will succeed Mary Beth Freeman, who has announced her retirement effective this summer.

Jay Poroda will become the Delaware Area Career Center's new superintendent in June.

DACC school board president Ted Backus said the board is “tremendously pleased” with its choice of Poroda as the new superintendent.

“This has been a complete and thorough process,” Backus said. "Our administrators, teachers and community partners had opportunities to meet in focus-group settings with the search facilitator, and DACC staff were also invited to meet the two finalists. All those we interviewed along the way were excellent and gave us much to consider." 

Poroda has been the Tolles assistant superintendent since 2019. He was director of academics and satellite programs from 2016 to 2019.

"When we talk about the career centers, I think, a lot of times people have the perception that we're just providing ... the technical skills to be successful in a career. It goes so much deeper than that," Poroda said. "So many times, we talk about being college- and career-ready. I push back a little bit and say we need to help our students to be human-ready.

“We need to give them those very specific career technical skills that they need for their profession,” he said. “They need to have strong academic skills, and they need those strong social-emotional skills to be successful. And I think that's what the career centers do so well.

“Our staff develop a really strong respect relationship with the students and are able to help mentor, guide and coach them outside of just the skills. To coach and guide them to be successful human beings," he said.

"If you look at our strategic plan and directional system at Delaware, one of our core beliefs is about being innovative and providing relevant skills to students. And to do that, you need to have the technology, but I think it's one part of the whole picture,” he said. “You need to have the innovation and the technology and the relevance. But you also need to create a welcoming environment for students. You also need to create a culture of diversity, equity and inclusivity.

"I think most importantly, we need to create a culture of engagement, where kids, staff, families, administrators -- all of us -- can come to work and be deeply engaged in our work. That's one of the things that truly drew me to Delaware Area Career Center," he said. 

When he becomes DACC superintendent, he said, communication with the students, staff and community will be a priority.

"People, I think, a lot of times want to know when a new superintendent comes on, what are they going to do when you first get there, right? What's the first thing you're going to do?” he said. “I think for me, when I think about the whole process of leading the district, I talked about the strong staff we have. I've talked about the strong administrative team that we have. ... Delaware County is booming. We all know that. The fastest-growing county in the state. And that means there are a lot of business connections and community connections that have contributed to the success of the Delaware Area Career Center.

"The first thing I'm going to do when I get there is to really work to listen to all these groups, work to really learn from them, because I firmly believe that as superintendent, I am the first student in the district, as well as the first teacher,” he said. “I want to learn from all these amazing teachers I have, whether they're the teaching staff, the administration, business and community partners, our associate school partners and the students and families. So listening and learning from them and working with them to really determine how we can maximize these great tools that we have. To have career-technical learning opportunities for every student available to them if they want them in the Delaware area."

Being a cultural leader is vital for a school superintendent, he said.

"And being one to say why are we here. We're here ultimately for the students,” he said. “And so being very visible is very important to me, both on the career campus and in our satellite programs. I think it just models that's why we're here. I think it's not only being visible for the students but being visible for the staff. You have staff members who have dedicated their lives and careers. And I think they want to see a leader who also has that same passion."

The DACC's strong sense of mission is well-established, he said.

While preparing for his job interview, he said, "I spoke with colleagues I worked with in all of the school systems there, and the message came across loud and clear that the staff of Delaware Area Career Center is so committed to the students and committed to providing high-quality education but also committed to creating that culture of inclusivity that exists in Delaware. That's what really sold me on wanting to become the next superintendent at Delaware."

Poroda, a Columbus resident, was principal at Columbus City Schools’ Indianola Informal K-8 School from 2014 to 2019. 

He earlier taught in the Washington, D.C., public schools and at school districts in the Pittsburgh area.

He is bilingual in Spanish and earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. He received his master's degree at California University of Pennsylvania. 

"At this point, my focus is on getting ready to lead the district,” he said. “With this in mind, I have not considered whether or not I would anticipate relocating to Delaware County in the future."

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