Michael Scott’s jaw dropped.
That was his response when David Hall, superintendent of the Oberlin City Schools, asked him how he would feel about being principal of two buildings.
Scott was hired in 2017 as the new principal of Langston Middle School. This year, he will also lead Oberlin High School.
The consolidation is part of a larger administrative swap spurred by the potential construction of a PK-12 school, if voters support a levy in November. Staff aspirations also played into the decision, according to Hall.
The two schools are separated by a single street, and Scott joked that he could run from one to the other. He said he feels honored and excited to bring the secondary schools together, stressing the opportunity for professional collaboration and conjoined staff meetings.
Chris Frank will leave his role as principal of Prospect Elementary to become the high school’s assistant principal.
He previously worked at the high school and middle school, so he said he’s developed a relationship with many of the students. Frank said it will be exciting to see students he knew as preteens as young adults, and even his son, who is going into 9th grade.
Planning for college early can help ensure students are ready come graduation day, and Hall is pushing to increase readiness in the district.
Roughly 20 juniors and seniors who scored well on a college placement test will take classes at LCCC Wellington and earn up to 24 college credits.
Four days per week, a bus will take students to the community college and back to Oberlin High School in the afternoon. This way, students can still take electives and participate in after-school activities, Hall said.
“It’s an opportunity to have both worlds,” he said. “They have the college experience with college professors and then they get to come back here and enjoy the high school experience at the same time.”
Susan Palmentera was hired last year to lead as a student development coach, but she took a job in Florida. A replacement will be hired to continue a partnership with Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a Cleveland-based nonprofit that offers courses covering career planning, job exploration, interviewing skills, and resume building at the high school.
College placement tests can be taken to earn both high school credit and three college credits.
Students don’t have to wait until the last years of high school to begin sorting post-grad plans. Eighth-graders at Langston Middle School will be able to take a college-level study skills course taught by history teacher Sheila Hicks.
They can also take a biology course for high school credit instead of integrated science.
A seventh-grade science and enrichment course has been added for those who have advanced skills in both science and reading. Roughly 22 to 26 students will be enrolled.
Hall also wants to work with Oberlin’s Industrial Park, Kendal at Oberlin, the Hotel at Oberlin, and other businesses in town to get students exposed to a variety of careers. Expect to see many students working in the community, he said.
Rewarding behavior, even at upper grade levels, is a personal mission for Scott. Even though they are young adults and may feel they don’t need as many incentives, Scott said all people like to be recognized for the good things they do — even teachers.
He wants to recognize staff accomplishments more this year, like the time they spend tutoring after school and the exciting lessons they plan.
Scott also has a message for parents: “My door is open.”
If there is a concern, he is available. If parents want to see what is going on inside the schools, he can make it happen, Scott said, because principals and parents share a common goal.
“At the end of the day, it’s about ensuring that every student can walk through Langston or Oberlin High School and feel that they belong, feel that they have a voice, and can achieve their dreams,” he said. “We really want to make sure our students understand that their voices are heard.”
Scott is also trying to organize a place for kids to eat outside in the courtyard.
A sixth grade math teacher was hired to replace Sharyle Strayer, who will be an intervention support instructor at the high school.
Bryan Policz is coming to Oberlin from East Knox Elementary School in Howard, Ohio, where he taught sixth grade social studies and math. He has a YouTube channel with videos that kids can reference at home while doing homework.
He also has a background in camp counseling, which Scott said will be helpful with overnight field trips.
Donna Shurr, the high school’s family and consumer science teacher will now teach two ceramics classes.
Larry Thomas was moved from assistant principal at OHS to serve in the same capacity at Langston.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.