Today Matters, Vantage Superintendent Blog



Friday, December 28, 2012

Quiet can be distracting. The building has been pretty empty this week following Christmas and preceding New Year's Day. While I returned each day to work with high hopes of productivity, something got in the way daily. If I didn't know better, I would think I was an extrovert, as I welcomed the many interruptions throughout this past week. The most frequent interruptions were construction-related, as various crew stopped by to correct punchlist items, cut the building's power and test the generator, and the final fire inspection by Chief Steele was conducted.

So it is Friday at 2:30 p.m.--the computers will be shut down at 3:15 p.m. today for a re-boot, making some of the items on my list impossible. I don't mind in the least, as 1) I am extremely flexible and 2) I still have three boxes of files begging to be unpacked and filed in my new office. And what am I doing? Blogging! (So that our public relations coordinator doesn't send me a message reminding me to do so)! That's also how I know I am not an extrovert--blogging is not really a chore for me, but it seems pointless to just chat daily about my day, even though it is a one-sided conversation. In looking back at past blogs, I have not written from such a casual persona. Perhaps a New Year's resolution will be to write more informally about each day's schedule and my favorite parts of the day at Vantage. If anyone has ideas on what they would like to read in this blog, please let me know.

P.S.:  I also know I am not an extrovert because the weekend is coming up, and I am looking forward to staying home to practice my painting. Yet, I can't wait for the staff and students to be back on January 2 and rescue me from this silent building!

Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December 4, 2012

The week is in full swing, and it's only Tuesday! Yesterday began before 5:30 a.m.with a fog delay, which means that until 9:15 a.m., there will be several phone calls, county radio "talk", and website checking for our area schools postings and radio stations to get updates on delays turning to 3 hour delays or closures. Vantage makes its decision, often based on Van Wert county schools' decisions, but also considers our associate schools' decisions in Paulding county, Putnam county, and Mercer county.
Nonetheless, any potential calamity day begins with a flurry of activity, and I can count on several phones ringing at once, making for a crazy start to the day ahead.
Yesterday, our delay helped out the construction crews,who took advantage of the nearly empty building, to work on the fire alarm system and other final checks, which are necessary before we close up Phase 6 of construction. All is on schedule, and our office and remaining business programs should relocate to the new areas during the week before Christmas. While we gained something there, the rainy damp weather put the siding and landscaping crews behind slightly. (It's always something. . .). As I have said before, the Vantage staff and students are so excited about our new facility. I can't wait until we are all together under one roof again, which should be just a few weeks away!

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's a Monday . . .

I used to think the worst sound in the world was the engine not turning over when I started my car. Last night  I knew the worst sound is actually the absence of sound, as in when you turn your heat up and the furnace doesn't kick on. Yes, it was a cold night, and an even colder morning, trying to get ready for work in a house with no heat--the thermostat read 55 when I left this morning!

Apparently my furnace stopped working sometime over the Thanksgiving holiday, when (luckily) I was visiting my kids in Defiance. I chose not to drive back there at 10 p.m., when it became evident that the furnace was definitely not going to come on. I had spent most of the day driving to Cleveland and back with my oldest daughter and finally arrived back in Van Wert at 9 p.m. The "It's a Monday . . ." title was inspired by my hands being so cold this morning that I dropped my yogurt as I was getting it out of the refrigerator to pack in my lunch. Yes, it splattered all over the kitchen floor, and down my knee-high black suede dress boots. . . one of the rare days in the past two years where I have worn a dress to work, due to the rough conditions of the school's construction project.

The minor yogurt catastrophe reminds me of the old Erma Bombeck calendar quote, "Life is a bowl of cherries. . .spilled on a brand new white silk blouse." If my furnace breaking is the worst thing that happens to me, I can handle it! I am so thankful for skilled tradesmen.The good news is the furnace has now been fixed, AND at a very reasonable price, thanks to A & A Mechanicals. Tyler Holdgreve, the owner, is a former Vantage student! His service man, Forrest, was professional, knowledgeable, prompt, and courteous.

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 16, 2012

Two blogs in ten days or so. . . it may be a record for (infrequent) blogging on my part. I have been in Columbus three days this past week, to attend the annual Ohio School Boards Association conference. Several Vantage board members attended the career-technical superintendents' association breakfast and meeting on Tuesday, November 13. The keynote speaker was Dick Ross, Director of 21st Century Education for Ohio. While a funding formula is still being worked on for CTE, we are anticipate weighted funding to be adapted per program operating costs. Vantage depends on receiving weighted funding, and hopefully the balance of low, middle, and high-cost programs we operate will see similar revenue to what has been received in the past. The exact formula remains to be seen until late January or early February, when the Governor unveils his school funding formula.

School funding is too heavy of a conversation with which to end this blog, especially on a Friday evening, when I have a date with my rake and a yard full of leaves! Lots of good things happened this week at school--our Interactive Media program produced an excellent slide show set to music, for the Van Wert Chamber of Commerce's Annual Small Business Awards luncheon. The slide show was shown to a huge crowd of 140 area business partners. Some of our Vantage students, and their instructor, Jill DeWert, were able to attend, along with our Adult Education Director Pete Prichard and me.

One of our students, Robert Leonard, Network Systems, and from Parkway Local Schools, is still hospitalized following a car accident which occurred a week ago, but we are receiving daily updates from his parents, which sound encouraging. This young man is extremely lucky to be alive, and has undergone 13 surgeries in the past week, with several more ahead of him. Our hearts go out to Robert and his family, with best wishes for his continued recovery and strength.

Vantage is proud to be asked to help with a local collection of toys for area children for Christmas. This year there is no Toys for Tots program in our county, but all of our county schools have been invited to have a toy drive to fill the void. Several area businesses and other groups will assist as well, and together we will help make the holidays brighter for several families.

Until next time, (which will hopefully be next week), enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 8, 2012

It's November 8 already, and only 24 degrees outside this morning! Today started off with patchy fog coming into the south of our district, requiring a 2-hour delay decision, after Van Wert county schools were impacted. That provided a nice opportunity to write a quick blog, since the school is really quiet at 8 a.m. on 2-hour delay days!

Vantage successfully renewed our .8 mill operating levy in the November election. We are ecstatic, particularly because it was passed in each of the four counties we serve! Passing it with a "grand slam" has not happened in our voting history. Many thanks go out to all of our voters who support our school. We believe in the training we provide to high school students and adults, and the election results indicate that you support us too.

Eighth grade tours are concluding this week--it has been great to see these students in our labs. Each eighth grader who attends the Vantage visit gets a five-minute exposure to each of our training labs. Yes, it's brief, but we intend to spark interest and make students aware of career training options before they are in high school.

It is my belief that at least every eighth grader and sophomore should experience a visit to Vantage, so that they, and their parents, can make an informed decision about career training and their future. If you want more information about our school, please check out our website at  Our student services office may also be reached at 419-238-5411 ext. 2126, Secretary Lisa Hatcher, or Ben Winans, Supervisor, ext. 2140.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24, 2012

Vantage has just completed the third public auction of its loose furnishings and equipment. The last and final auction will be held at Vantage in the new bus barn on January 12. We had a wonderful response from the community and several out of town businesses who purchased items. The remaining auction will be quite small compared to the others, but there will be a great variety of items sold. Trust me, the new bus barn will be full of items to sell, and we hope they do, so we can use the building for its intent: storing school vehicles and busses over the winter!

We are gearing up for the Grand Open House on February 25, 5 p.m., and making plans for parking, tours, the ceremony, and of course, some refreshments! "Tons" of cupcakes are sure to be there. . . frosted in red and white! I may have to nix my idea of creating the Vantage logo in mini cupcakes, though--(I know, I am disappointed, too!).

In between then and now, though, numerous school activities continue--parent-teacher conferences will be here before we know it on Nov. 19 and 20. Our annual Haiti Carnival is also on November 19, and raises important funds to provide hand tools and supplies for the carpentry program we established in Bourdes, Haiti.

Much of my time has been spent negotiating a solar power purchase agreement, which to date is not yet complete, but we are getting close. Adult workforce development operations across the state have been in limbo due to impact from the USDOE and its issues with accreditation by long-time provider North Central accreditation. We received good news just this week that currently accredited adult workforce programs will be allowed to expand, which means we can proceed with taking our pipe welding program to Licking county. Certified welders are needed there, particularly due to the shale and gas industry needs. Vantage will expand our program temporarily and certify welders in that county to assist workforce needs, until there are certified programs operating in their area.

More later, but check back in and see what we are up to next. . .

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 4, 2012

The days go by way too quickly--tonight is our annual Advisory Committee Dinner, as well as the October Board of Education meeting, and my annual Business Advisory Committee meeting. Likewise, across the school, our teaching staff will be hosting their own training program's advisory committee meeting. Over 100 people will enjoy dinner prepared by our Culinary Arts students and instructor Robin Burns. It is certain to be an excellent dinner to conclude a busy instructional day for our staff.

This week, and for several days over the summer, I have been working on our solar power purchase agreement, which we hope to soon finalize so the district can move forward with up to 80% of our power being provided by the sun. I believe we are in the final stretch and will soon see construction of the 1 MW ground-mounted solar array to the north and west of our property. My goal is for it to be operational by January, 2013. As with most change, something new brings many questions and warrants digging deep into "what if's" and "why should we?" While it is tedious, it is absolutely necessary work.

The solar power purchase agreement is an extensive document which spells out clear answers to the "what if"  concerns. Almost all potential issues have been clarified or "ironed out" by Solar Planet, the company we have selected to work with. Why should we? Vantage is interested in the instructional value for our students in the field of renewable energy, which encompasses much more than the wind farms which literally surround our campus. Solar Planet has proposed a "green lab" to accentuate students' awareness of solar power. I hope this can be located near the science courtyard, between the health and trade and industry wings.

I believe the addition of solar power at Vantage will serve the district well in the long-term. It's certainly been  an informative experience to date, and one that I hope soon comes to fruition.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Too Many Good Things . . .

It's September 24 already, and my last post was September 6. Not doing too well keeping up with my "weekly" blog--it's a good thing I knew not to make it a daily blog! Today's title, "Too many good things. . ." is what I have been thinking for the past several days as I have watched our students and staff milling about our new school. Our new facility is brightly lit and wonderfully designed--and who doesn't enjoy being surrounded by new walls, paint, flooring, and best of all, sufficient air conditioning? Lately we are grateful most of the new heat pumps are working and taking the chill off. 

I found out last week that our new building is 34.2% more energy efficient than the baseline ASHRAE standard for the building. If that weren't enough, there is a slim chance that we may also meet Platinum status for the LEED portion of our construction project! A few things have to fall into place before Platinum can be achieved, but right now it looks like anything is possible. I look forward to writing the innovative design component for the LEED review later this winter. Our solar project has certainly helped to increase our LEED status, but we also have significant achievements in innovative design, water efficiency, energy efficiency, and indoor environmental quality. 

Vantage also received kudos at last Thursday evening's Van Wert County Economic Development annual dinner by Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger and Mayor Don Farmer. The staff and I appreciate being an integral part of our community. 

More good things to come. . .running out of time to write them all. . . Until next time, Today Matters--as I read somewhere recently, "What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day of School!

Finally, we had our first day of school at Vantage! New juniors, as well as returning seniors, started their day together this morning. Yesterday's fog closure was definitely not the way any of us wanted to start the new school year. Hopefully it isn't a sign of numerous calamity days yet to come.

The Vantage staff recognizes that coming to a new school district as a junior or senior can be scary and at the very least, make you feel like a fish out of water. Our "staggered start" (which didn't work out due to fog), is intended to help our juniors get oriented a bit more easily, without the added influx of returning seniors. This year not only did Vantage students enter a new school, all of them literally entered a new school building, much of which didn't exist last year. Even our seniors were asking for directions, but all seemed to be enjoying their new school. Again, thank you to our voters for supporting our bond levy in 2009! You helped to make this much needed renovation and expansion project possible.

A bit of Vantage trivia--long-time social studies teacher Ms. Peg Bollenbacher remembers that closing school on the first day has only happened one other time in our 36 year history! Ms. Bollenbacher is completing her 35th year of teaching this year, all of them at Vantage.

Best wishes to all for an excellent school year ahead!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September1, 2012

This is Van Wert County fair week, one of my favorite weeks of the year. I love spending time at the fair, rain or shine. It reminds me of my youth, when the highlights of summer were Defiance County fair week and 4-H camp week at Camp Palmer in Fayette. Stop by the Vantage Career Center booth when you are at the fair, and pick up a reminder for Statewide Ford's "Drive One for Your School" event at Vantage on September 22, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For every test drive, Vantage will receive $20 for our scholarship funds. We    want to see 50 drivers every hour!

It's also just a few days until the 2012-13 school year starts at Vantage. The new building was packed with students and parents last Monday and Tuesday evenings for orientation. The teaching staff is ready to go with a full day of moving in to new classrooms and labs on Tuesday, while they figure out how to get from place to place in new surroundings. Our seniors won't have any advantage over the juniors, since the majority of pathways they used to take are now replaced with new hallways and brand new classrooms which didn't exist last May.

We are excited to begin a new year-- one that brings the end of 18-months of construction and renovation! We will have our Grand Open House! on Monday, February 25, 2013, from 5 to 8 p.m. Stop by that evening for a tour and have a celebration cupcake and coffee!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What is the saying . . ."Summertime and the living is easy?" Not lately around here in the Vantage school district, which covers Van Wert, Paulding, part of Putnam, and Mercer counties. Electric power is restored now to thousands of area residents who lost it after the severe storms passed through on June 29, but we all got a taste of "life on the prairie" during an intense heat wave last week, where nearly everyone went three to eight days without electricity. More than once, my car's  outdoor temperature display read "105"!

A few of our Vantage alumni, from our AWS certified Welding training program, got a taste of Texas heat in Ft. Worth during June-- Rylee Carlisle, Paulding Exempted Village Schools, 2010-11 and Todd Akom, Wayne Trace Local Schools, 2009-10. They, along with a few other Vantage students who graduated just this year, spent the month of June training at Ft. Worth Towers, (FWT) in Ft. Worth, Texas. These students are exceptional welders, and our program's quality instruction prepared them to be hired by FWT at their new facility in Hicksville, Ohio. (FWT makes transmission towers for the nation's power grid, as well as other types of transmission towers).

As a certified welding training facility, for high school and adult students, Vantage Career Center will also train and certify several of FWT's new welders to prepare them for the specific welds required at the Hicksville facility. FWT needs 200 welders by October, 2012 and another 100 by the following summer in 2013.

The towers made by FWT are crafted of 1 inch or more heavy gauge steel, and Rylee and Todd have moved right up to layout, moving quickly past route welding the seams on huge tower pieces. These young men from Paulding county, said they love Ft. Worth, except for the 102 degree heat!  Soon they will be back in Ohio, welding full-time at FWT in Hicksville, and probably NOT escaping the Texas heat, judging by how our summer is going so far! Check out their pictures, which were taken in Ft. Worth in June. Rylee and Todd are a perfect example of career technical education in Ohio--two years of high school training at a career center in a specific trade, and moving on to employment in a solid job while earning good wages. They are an example of why I love working in career technical education, and have done so for 22 years. It just doesn't get better than this!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Another week is mostly over, and much activity surrounds us as we bring the school year to a close. I was up on the roof today to get a look at the new membrane, skylight openings, and drains for our new underground water retention system. Stay tuned for pictures to be posted on my blog!The view looks different from the roof top!

Inside the building, much renovation is taking place--concrete is being sealed for moisture abatement under our new science classrooms, and masonry has started to construct the walls in the new student services and clinic area. The math classrooms are also beginning to take shape. The current phases, 4 North and 4 South, and phase 5 are scheduled for completion so we can occupy for school's start in early September. Contractors are on schedule to date, and things are looking good for Phase 6, which will house the central office administration to be complete in December this year. Construction continues to be exciting!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Today is a busy one! Vantage is hosting its first Advanced Manufacturing Day in three career-technical education training shops all day today. Our $35 million complete renovation and construction project has eight months until completion, (it is an 18-month construction project), but our new shops in Welding, Precision Machining, and Industrial Mechanics are open for area employers to tour today. State of the art equipment has been purchased for all nine trade and industry shops, however, and plans are being made to host open houses in other training areas in the next year.

Over 100 employers from the northwest Ohio area are expected to visit--many of whom employ our CTE high school students upon completion of two years of training with us. While some schools are seeing reduced interest in trades like precision machining and welding, we are going strong at Vantage. Employers know the quality of our students' work and seek these students when openings occur. As an example, have placed over 80 students with one manufacturing employer over the past 10 years.

Vantage Career Center is one of 49 career centers in Ohio, serving juniors and seniors from 13 area high schools. Students come for training in one of 16 different trades programs, including carpentry, electricity, culinary arts, ag diesel mechanics, cosmetology, health technology, and early childhood education, to name a few. We serve all the high schools in Paulding county, Van Wert county, the western half of Putnam county, and the Parkway district in Mercer county. Vantage also contracts with the city of Delphos and Delpho St. John districts to provide career-technical training.

Check out the Vantage website at! We are proud to teach manufacturing and other trades skills to serve the employment needs in northwest Ohio.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Terrific Week at Vantage!

What a great week!  I was thrilled to be in the audience at our annual FFA banquet on Wednesday evening. . .our Ag Diesel Mechanics students and their instructor, Mike Miller, did a wonderful job planning this year's banquet and officer installation. It was extra special to see our students and teacher using the new stage in our new student commons area for the first time for the purpose of recognizing our students' achievements!  I cannot describe how it felt to watch them on stage and know how far we have come with the construction project in the past year. All the effort has been well worth it!

I was reminded by the guest speaker, our high school director, Bob Vennekotter, as he presented some construction project information to the crowd, that actually the planning for this project started in 2001 or 2002.  For at least the last 10 years, some staff members, and our architects, Garmann-Miller Engineers, Minster, have been working on some aspect of a renovated Vantage Career Center. I am proud to be part of the project, from revising the building plans to passing the bond levy in 2009. I know I have said it before, but I would do it all over again. Seeing our students use our new facility is absolutely wonderful!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Life is a Journey. Wear Comfortable Shoes.

April 5, 2012--I saw a shoe advertisement recently that struck a chord with me. The title of this blog, which is the tagline on the ad, seems particularly fitting as we plod through the construction project at Vantage. While "plod" may not seem to be a positive reference, the other choices that come to mind are "trudge" and "endure"! The construction process is a tedious one, frought with many details, each of which presents an opportunity for an oversight, which requires a correction. Naturally, the correction impacts the schedule. . .and so it goes.

During the project, I am wearing out a few pairs of "old lady shoes", (as my daughters, both in their 20's, refer to them)!(Saying goodbye to dresses and heels for 18 months has been rather pleasant, since this attire doesn't meet the safety code onsite). And while it is hard to find the energy to clean the dust and mud off of my shoes some days, the comfort provided by these unstylish shoes is well worth tromping through the muck on the construction site most days.

Life is a journey for each of us, no matter what our role in employment, family, or community service. Hopefully your daily journey brings you happiness and fulfillment, as mine does on most days. If not, take time to think of the things you are thankful for and the blessings present in your life. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Senior Capstone Day

Just had to write a quick blog after seeing some wonderful projects this morning. It's a day when I am on the edge of my chair, (just as several teachers are), hoping students give the right answer to a tough question a judge has asked them. We KNOW they know the answer! The teachers take the projects as seriously as their students, as this is a day where they know the quality of the student's senior capstone is also a reflection on them. Over and over this morning I heard of the lessons learned in "time management" "time is money" "customer service" "work smarter not harder" "it's about moving quickly to solve a problem--time is money in the real world". And the always present advice: "Don't wait until the last minute to do your project, juniors!"

I am so proud of our students, AND our staff! This day always reminds me, as I listen to students' presentations, of why I chose education as a career. I can't help but leave each session bursting with pride, no matter how nervous a student might have been,and feeling good about Vantage's part in helping that student grow. It's a feeling that will stick with me for a long time.

Thanks to all of our community members and associate school personnel who came out today to judge or watch student presentations. We couldn't do Senior Capstone Day without you!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 18, 2012

What a great week of spring weather we just experienced! I know another good week is ahead of us. On March 21, Vantage hosts one of the best days of the school year--it's Senior Capstone Day. Our building will be filled with judges for our seniors' projects from all over the Vantage district. Alumni, office and industry professionals, Board members (past and present) and our administrative team, and staff, all assist in helping our seniors complete the last leg of their project.
While most students have worked all year or at least this semester on their project, many students started thinking of ideas during their junior year.

If you haven't been able to come to Vantage and see our students' accomplishments,contact a Vantage staff member and sign up today for next year's event. A half day or full day of judging is a great way to help our students! You may also email me at Vantage, via to offer your help on Senior Capstone Day.

Have a great week!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A new blog--finally!

February 24, 2012

Hopefully I am once again blogging weekly (or even more often) as time permits! My struggle with a severe form of tendonitis in one hand has made typing impossible for several months.

I had the pleasure of being invited to Mr. Matt Miller's physics class recently. His students were learning to calculate potential energy and kinetic energy using mass, speed, distance, and time measurements. A magnetic roller coaster model provided the simulation for which they gathered the information for their calculations. The students learned a great deal regarding how real roller coasters are designed and how scale models are used for testing the impact of sample designs before they are built. Thanks to Mr. Miller for the invitation--I am always glad to be invited to see our students' work!

We are getting closer to our next phased move for the construction project--on or before April 9, we will probably occupy our new north and south additions! We are about halfway through the 18-month construction project, and while at times it feels like forever, it continues to be fun and exciting as we watch new training areas being built around us!

Have a great weekend!