Hilliard Schools Connection: Efforts of many keep district operating at high level

John Marschhausen
Guest columnist

The year 2020 has been one for the history books.

Decades from now, students will look back on the decisions we've made and on our response to this global health crisis, and they will pass judgment.

As an education community, we've made both exceptional decisions and honest mistakes. We've built on our success and learned from failures.

John Marschhausen

One thing is for sure: During a global pandemic, it takes extraordinary effort from many people and groups to keep our district operating at a high level.

First of all, our Hilliard City Schools teachers have been superheroes.

Beginning in March with less than one week's notice, our teachers have been reinventing education. With each instructional change, our teachers adapt and adjust to engage students.

It doesn't matter if we are in eLearning or hybrid mode – these professional educators take the craft of teaching to a new level.

Hilliard teachers have created the Hilliard Online Academy and built hybrid lessons. It hasn't been perfect, and it certainly hasn't been easy, but our staff gets better each day.

We are grateful to our teachers.

Our food-service staff members and bus drivers have worked together to provide essential services for our students and families.

The partnership the district has with Aramark serves the community well. During eLearning, with our transportation team's help, the district provided meals to students without skipping a beat. In hybrid mode, the food-service team has transitioned to touchless payment and socially distanced practices.

Our transportation team has done it all – helping with meals, distributing supplies and setting up classrooms. Our drivers are adapting to masks and safety protocols with our students.

We thank our support staff members.

Our secretaries, at all levels, are vital communicators and trusted connections.

During this time of uncertainty, of constant change, many parents are most comfortable getting information from our office staff members. Many of our secretaries have formed strong bonds and built relationships in their respective school communities.

From the district level to each building, our office teams are the glue that keeps everyone together. Answering phones, coming to the door to meet parents and serving as a conduit for teachers, our secretaries keep things moving efficiently.

We are grateful to our office staff.

During this pandemic disinfecting and building upkeep have never been more critical. 

Without the dedication of our custodians, maintenance and grounds teams, our students and staff would not be as safe as possible.

They have been leaders in creating and implementing safety protocols around our entire district.

As a superintendent for more than 15 years, I have never seen a school board more engaged, more active and more invested than Hilliard's.

The school board has been actively involved in our district's Responsible Restart Plan. Nearly every board meeting approaches two hours.

Our leadership team thoughtfully considers recommendations and guidance from state and local health professionals.

Related story:Hilliard school board sets new learning-mode protocols

I am most proud of the depth of our conversations. We haven't always agreed, and we have worked through complex resolutions. We continue to adapt and adjust our plans, but we are committed to a shared vision.

We continue to ask more from this board, and the board continues to respond. I am thankful to work with this leadership team.

Our administrators are the best in the business.

The team started building plans with 6 feet of social distance back in April. Our principals have responded to each challenge – from planning virtual graduation ceremonies to creating safe learning environments in hybrid mode.

As the district evaluates pacing guides and assesses our curriculum needs, our administrative team leads the way.

Our newest central office administrator, Samantha Chatman, is leading our Office of Equity and Diversity. She has hit the ground running, providing essential professional development to all teachers in August.

Thanks to all our administrators, principals and instructional leaders.

Hilliard was prepared for eLearning because of our commitment to technology.

Beginning with the Technology Task Force years ago, Hilliard's vision positioned the district to prepare students for success in a virtual world. With our One-2-One iPad program, providing iPads to every student in kindergarten through 12th grade, and the implementation of Canvas as our learning-management system, Hilliard had the infrastructure and devices to transition to a virtual environment.

Even with the tools, it is the technology team that makes everything possible. Under the leadership of Rich Boettner and Mark Pohlman, this elite team serves our students, teachers and community well.

We are grateful for our technology professionals.

Our partners in the cities of Hilliard and Columbus have been terrific.

We are thankful to have municipal leaders working together during this crisis.

The Hilliard Division of Police and Norwich Township Fire Department, essential partners on our safety committee, support our district every day.

Franklin County Public Health and Columbus Public Health provide daily support during this health crisis.

The Ohio State University generously has supported Hilliard's multiple programs and initiatives.

We are thankful for the support, guidance and collaboration with all our intergovernmental partners in central Ohio.

Our district is a complex operation; being "Ready for Tomorrow" doesn't happen by accident.

In a time of great uncertainty and constant change, many people are responsible for our success.

When you have a moment, please join me in thanking all these dedicated, skilled employees.

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