Hilliard Schools Connection: District has deep-seated drive to be the best

Staff Writer
ThisWeek group
John Marschhausen

A member of our Hilliard education community recently asked me, "Why does Hilliard always need to be first? Why do we always need to be elite?"

The question surprised me. I've never thought of being anything but the best we can be as a district. If we don't strive to be our best, if we wait to follow others, then we aren't meeting the implicit promise our community demands.

Hilliard's commitment to excellence is nothing new; the expectation is in our district's DNA.

All one needs to do is look around at the generational, steady leadership and vision that have led our school district as it made the transition from a predominantly rural community just 35 years ago to the eighth-largest district in Ohio. It's the people who have made Hilliard City Schools what we are today.

Roger Nehls, who served as Hilliard's superintendent for 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s, referred to the "Hilliard Way" as our focus on the people who make Hilliard unique.

Dale McVey, my predecessor who also served for 15 years, led the focus on personalization. The 2020 Plan set the framework for where we are today.

Thirty years of focused, purposeful leadership set the course for where we are today.

Former school board members, such as Chuck Buck, Libby Gierach, Doug Maggied, Andy Teater and Heather Keck, to name just a few, remain active civic leaders in our community.

Decades of strong, visionary elected board members have set high expectations, held district leaders accountable and served our community in steadfast leadership.

A culture of high expectations isn't created by mistake; culture is intentional.

Home values in Hilliard City Schools continue to increase. Builders seek available land to build both houses and apartments.

Our district is a destination for families; it has a reputation for innovation and creativity. When children graduate, some families choose to sell their homes, and they often do so with a considerable return on their investment.

In Hilliard, property-tax rates match the high quality of education we provide to students. Our constituents invest in the future when they move here. It is an investment in children.

This investment comes with the implicit promise that our schools will build on the foundation of excellence. The instruction and curriculum that prepared students for success in the 2010s will not prepare them to be "Ready for Tomorrow" in the 2020s.

Hilliard will never rest on its laurels or settle for being good enough; it's not in our DNA.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is a prime example of how forward-thinking, innovative problem-solving and core values prepare the district for success.

Hilliard City Schools is built for personalization; it is the first pillar of the Next X strategic vision formally introduced to the community in October.

Our One-2-One partnership with Apple to bring iPads to every student in grades PK-12 connects every student to instructional tools. Working with such local providers as Verizon and Spectrum ensures every family has an internet connection for home-based learning, when needed.

Faculty members from Ohio State University serve as advisers and resources as we bring unique expertise to guide district leaders.

We partner with the best to bring the best to our students.

Our teachers and students are experienced with Canvas as our learning-management system; our secondary teachers already had created more than 70 complete online courses.

This summer, elementary school teachers began developing an online curriculum for grades K-8. It's in our DNA; we identify a need and we find a solution.

While others might wait and see or purchase a vendor's program, we use a design-thinking process and do things the Hilliard Way.

We don't always get it right the first time. We are willing to try new things, learn from our mistakes and live with a growth mindset. We actively model that failure isn't the end; it is an opportunity for learning and growth.

As we have all learned during this global pandemic, adaptability is a critical life skill. There is no plan that we can follow for weeks at a time. We live. We learn. We get better every day.

Hilliard's Responsible Restart Plan is a work in progress; it continues to evolve as both educational and public-health officials learn about the coronavirus.

The school district will continue to adapt and adjust its plans based on available data. It's what we do; it's in our DNA.

Our current board and leadership team are proud to continue the Hilliard Way.

As leaders, each of us humbly accepts the challenge to continue Hilliard's innovative spirit with a future-focused vision. Any school district's success begins and ends with our people: our teachers, staff and administrators.

Our goal is to serve each student better today than we did yesterday and be better tomorrow than today. We strive to be first, to be elite – because it is who we are.

Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection guest column for the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.