Today Matters, Vantage Superintendent Blog



Monday, December 29, 2014

What to Blog About?

I see it's been way too long since I last blogged, but it hasn't been for lack of interest. The pace in the district office is normally quick and takes several directions in the course of a school day. Today, December 29, the building is too quiet as staff and students' voices don't fill the hallways. The bells are shut down as well. The lull is nice, yet oddly quiet, and I don't believe I ever get used to it!

Topics on my mind?
1. Where is the severe winter by which we were supposed to be tormented?
2. Was it one of our students' homes which was destroyed by fire last night in the area? I pray not, but it seems to happen all too often that one of our own is victim to a fire tragedy, especially near the holidays.
3. Hopefully students and staff are safe during the holidays and taking some well deserved time to relax and enjoy family. Many of our students also work, and thankfully their daily schedule will be a bit less hectic now that school has dismissed until January 5.
4. The end of the school year is rapidly approaching, and we can't stop it. Our seniors will be grabbing hold of all the memories they can make in this last semester before the reality of life after high school drops into their laps in May. I know we've prepared them as best we can.
5. 2015 will bring challenges (opportunities in disguise) for CTE and for our district. Prayers for wisdom and guidance and teamwork along the way! I have no doubt that our staff can handle whatever may be ahead.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Winter Has Set In

And the delay saga continues. Ohio's recently passed legislation requiring at least a minimum number of hours of seat time in the classroom to eliminate the five calamity days previously given by the state for severe weather. Northwest Ohio, as with many other districts across Ohio, is bound to have problems meeting the required hours without making up days after the school year.

Winter has set in already! Today is another 2 hour delay--but we are grateful that conditions were good enough to hold classes each day this week after the delay. Time will tell how bad this winter will be--perhaps it's an early start with an early spring season to follow! No one would be happier than the school administrators and staff, (and parents and students), who have to battle the uncertainty of whether we are in session or not, and dealing with the worry of traveling safely.

Thanks to all the bus drivers and the conscientious administrators who make the best decisions they can for the district's students. Today matters.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The World Keeps Turning

No matter what we face in life, the world will continue to turn. "New isn't hard, it's just different". I heard this recently from another educator as they described working with a student who was working through an assignment. The student was feeling apprehensive, wanted to get it right, and expected to grasp it immediately, even though it was a new concept and a few steps further into territory he hadn't been in before. Much like the new territory I find myself in as we begin a school treasurer search and almost simultaneously replace the position of superintendent's secretary.

My concern for the district is that it is a seamless transition, as much as that can be possible. The Vantage staff is excellent, and I am grateful to be surrounded by good people. Staff shouldn't feel apprehensive. New isn't hard--it's just different.

I'll miss these two individuals immensely. Best wishes to both as they move on to new challenges.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Students and Staff Having Fun

Vantage students are enjoying a bit of Halloween festivity, from staff wearing a few crazy outfits to our preschoolers trick or treating in the building. Batman paid a visit to the preschool as well (#batmanwearsmascara) #batmanhassuptlicense ! Nevertheless, our students enjoy a thriving school climate which helps to make our technical training school just like a typical high school on most days. Announcements, school fund raisers, contests for math and reading challenges, and lots of community service, including our annual Christmas toy drive to help every child have a little Christmas. I've always liked the interest of our staff in promoting this traditional atmosphere, while in the midst of serious workforce training. While I'm guilty of being "too serious" and "all business", these descriptions often go with the superintendent's territory.

But I've found it's OK to lighten up a bit! Today Matters.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The World by the Tail. . .

Several of our Vantage students indeed have "the world by the tail". Today was our Manufacturing Open House, and five of our trades programs were highlighted. Precision Machining, Welding, Industrial Mechanics, Electricity, and Buildings & Grounds. Students and staff showed off the skills learned here and the facility they enjoy learning and working in most every day. A few students are going home today with job offers in hand--the choice is theirs. And many more students will have those choices to make by the end of this school year. The job offers keep coming when you have skills employers need. And the need is surely there in America, not just in our little corner of rural northwest Ohio.

Trade and Industry Supervisor Ted Verhoff deserves a shout out for a job well done--not only did he organize an excellent Manufacturing Open House today, but he gave a terrific presentation to the local economic development advisory group, who met at Vantage this morning, on our trades programming. Visitors then toured the Open House throughout the day, and enjoyed lunch. Area legislators Senator Cliff Hite, State House of Representatives Tony Burkley, and Senator Rob Portman's office staff, Wes Harbough, toured the facility also.

And I'll close with a big shout out to our teachers, students, and staff who also made today's Open House a fantastic event--whether teacher, cafeteria, public relations, support staff, or administrator--Thank you all! You're terrific!

Follow me @VantageSupt  #IamCareerTech #Gettheedge

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Choose Wisely, But CHOOSE!

What's on my mind? Life's choices. No matter your age or occupation, one's life is steered largely by the choices we make, personally and professionally. One of my favorite quotes says "The decisions you  make today will bring you adversity or advantage".  I actually taped this one to the inside of my medicine cabinet when I became a superintendent--thinking it might steer me in the new challenges ahead.

Another inspiring one (as I try to build up my endurance for my first 8K run), is " 'Dead last' is better than 'didn't finish', which trumps 'never started'." This too, can be applied to setting goals and life's choices.

Let's talk about adversity that may come from decisions one makes. One may say "adversity" implies negativity or confrontation. While I've found many people prefer to avoid confrontation or adversity, if discussing one's viewpoints and opening one's mind to other perspectives, by addressing an issue, causes better communication or solves a problem, adversity is a good thing. It's the failure or refusal to entertain different opinions and perspectives that often causes more adversity.

Is it easier to avoid confrontation and discussion which may result in unpopular decisions? Certainly. But is it the right thing to do? Of course not, particularly if you sit in the superintendent's chair. If improvement can occur, whether student or staff or for the institution, then addressing the unpopular issue is the thing to do.

Does it get easier as we tackle the unpopular decisions? No. Each issue will bring its individual nuances, which merits full consideration and different people at the table. Do I improve as I continually address the issues arising in a superintendent's role? I hope so. Today matters--It's full of choices.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Are You Doing What You Love?

Last week Vantage provided the first of four support forums for our non-traditional students (female or male in a profession predominantly represented by the opposite sex). We call the series "Lunch & Learn" and last week's student attendees were all females in various male-dominated professions, such as Auto Body, Precision Machining, Electricity, Construction, Auto Technology, and Welding.

A former Vantage alumnus, Nina Inez, was the speaker. Students listened to her message of perseverance in her current job and also while she was a student here, both being atmospheres she loved, and wouldn't give up for anything. Question and answer time is always provided, and students gradually feel comfortable speaking out and voicing opinions or problems they are experiencing.

Nina steered the students to remember why they are pursuing the trade their current trade, and "who" are you doing it for? If it isn't for yourself, you may want to rethink your path, because YOU have to be happy with who you are and what you choose. She loves her current job at Advanced Auto Parts, where she makes sure their clients get their parts on time.

As an employer I know that when I see passionate interest and perseverance or diligence in setting goals and achieving them in a candidate for employment, it's worth extending a job offer. Skills are also necessary, but given two skilled candidates, I will most likely choose the one who exudes sparks of enthusiasm and energy for the job at hand, on top of a solid skill base.

An employer worth working for will recognize those who have a passion for their trade and give them a chance to prove themselves.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Volunteer of the Year Award

It is a pleasure to live and work in Van Wert, Ohio. The community offers many ways to get involved, and I was recognized by one of the organziations I work with last evening. Van Wert's Economic Development annual banquet took place at Willow Bend Country Club, recognizing 10 years of successful effort to improve our community. Our Vantage Board of Education members from Van Wert county were present, as well as several friends and colleagues. The recognition of my efforts is truly appreciated.
Volunteer of the Year Award and proclamation by Governor John Kasich

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do You Know CTE?

I've worked in career technical education since 1991--and taught business education skills to students since 1981. Because I identify so closely with the practical benefits of CTE,  I still forget that not everyone knows what CTE does for students and adults.

In short, CTE provides skilled training so people can earn a living.

But people can learn that in college, you may be thinking. Yes, certainly. But why not learn entry-level skills in one of the 16 career training programs which Vantage Career Center offers, while you are still in high school? Then a person can work in the field and pay down their college debt while they are still in college, and gain advanced technical training to move up in their chosen trade after.

Vantage students in training in Ft. Worth, TX at FWT
Vantage Career Center, Van Wert, Ohio 45891
Vantage is located in Van Wert, Ohio, and is one of 49 joint vocational school districts, strategically placed across the state to offer workforce training.

Check out our website

Follow me @VantageSupt  #careerteched #gettheedge

Get the Edge at Vantage!

Best of the Blogs to Feature an Excerpt of my Blog, Today Matters!

Excited to learn via email this morning that an excerpt from one of my blogs has been picked up by a national education magazine, School Administrator, published by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA)! This is the leading professional association for our nation's school administrators. For those of us in career-technical education, we also count on ACTE, the Association for Career Technical Education's national magazine "Techniques" to offer specialized topics in CTE training and leadership.

I look to AASA's School Administrator magazine to keep up on national education issues and find undying support for public education. Check out the Best of the Blogs page to find excerpts from superintendents across the nation in each month's issue. Other favorite "reads" of mine in the magazine are the "My View" articles, which are packed with leadership lessons learned by administrators. The Ethical Educator series always features thought-provoking instances to guide administrators trying to navigate the sometimes turbulent sea of school administration. The Board Savvy Superintendent series consistently provides good advice for walking that line of leading and developing your school district, while working within the realm of support from your board of education.

Will I continue to read AASA's School Administrator? Sure. But perhaps I will be more careful in writing my superintendent's blog!  Follow me @VantageSupt #gettheedge #careerteched #IamCareerTech

Monday, September 29, 2014

A New Week--A New Opportunity

What will your week contain? If I could predict the future, I would choose not to do so. But I plan to start my week full of energy and ready for anything! Having recently moved to a different home, I start this week being mostly unpacked--finally. Lots more boxes to unpack, and loose ends to tie up, but it's feeling like home. A workout at the YMCA at 5:30 a.m. will hopefully become a habit!

This Thursday Vantage will host its October Board of Education meeting. I'll attend the Herb Monroe Community Park Dedication in Paulding on Tuesday. The Paulding Chamber and its county Leadership in Action members for the past two years have spearheaded this downtown beautification project. I can't wait to see it.

Tuesday evening is the annual City of Van Wert Economic Development dinner, where Mark Barbash will be the keynote speaker at Willow Bend Country Club. Last week I attended the Paulding County annual economic development dinner with Vantage Board member Greg Reinhart. Director Jerry Zielke has headed up economic development efforts for the past year, bringing much enthusiasm and activity to the Paulding area.

This week at Vantage will find students busy in training for the workforce--and staff hard at work encouraging the young people who choose our school. The good news stories of students employed in their field and earning a living renews all of our energies to make each day matter. Today matters.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Exciting Project Starting Soon

Glad to be moving forward with signage, hopefully indoors and outside, to identify our building's "green" features for students and our visitors from the community, We will be working with project architects from Garmann-Miller, Minster in the coming months. All should be done by June 1, 2015.

The samples I've seen are exactly what I was looking for and will dress up some of the bare walls in hallways and the commons area, while providing timeless information about our conservation efforts Solar information will be included also to help get the word out about how much power the field generates and how it works.

Our building, completed in January, 2013, recently earned Gold LEED rating in the co-funded Ohio School Facilities Commission project. The 18 months (and then some) from groundbreaking to the dedication were intense, exhausting, and yet so fulfilling. Every day I see students and staff, as well as our many community guests, utilizing the new Vantage training facility. It feels especially good because I was able to work in the former building, which lacked so many attributes for student learning. The transformation is still amazing to many of us spend our days and nights here.

We are incredibly pleased that we earned a Gold rating, and will soon place a LEED plaque, which declares our rating near the bronze building dedication plaque near the high school office. Stay tuned for some previews of  green signage!

Today Matters! @VantageSupt #gettheedge @vccstudents #Iamcareertech

Friday, September 5, 2014


Look out world, I've joined Twitter! Follow me @VantageSupt

Thanks to Vantage Integrated Technology Specialist Mary Ann Falk, who spent time teaching me "all things Twitter" this afternoon. (No, it wasn't in 30 minutes or less!) But it was time well spent, and I am excited about sharing news about CTE and Vantage to followers.

It's the end of a busy week, but a productive one. I can literally see a lot more of my desk than I could on Monday, so I must have pushed a lot of paper. While we are moving toward "paperless", a lot of reading, via trade magazines and printed CTE-related articles, which I receive via email, tend to be simpler to print and read later.

A highlight of our Board of Education meeting last night was hearing from two of our 2014 construction trades seniors, Ben Schnipke, Ottoville, and Austen Stukey, Parkway. They were national Skills USA winners in Kansas City this past June, Austen taking 5th in carpentry, and Ben winning second place in cabinetry. Vantage Instructor Jerry Robinson joined them at our Board meeting and spoke of the importance of the state and national competitions for students. Vantage is proud of our students for these awesome national accomplishments!

Here's a great link to a video we showed all staff the day before school started in August. Its message reminds those of us working in CTE that our service is much needed and can benefit so many people and employers. Check it out:

Today Matters at Vantage Career Center.

Pictured is 2014 senior Ben Schnipke with his cabinet built during national Skills USA competition in Kansas City. Looking on (l-r): Supt. Staci Kaufman, High School Director Ben Winans, Board member Pat Baumle, Wayne Trace Local Schools.

Friday, August 22, 2014

And Here We Go. . .

Four days of school just ended as the last bell of the day sounded a few minutes ago. Evidence so far points to a good year ahead--a building full of students, staff reporting to work and full of new ideas, and equipment maintained (and the AC works too!).

Adult Director Pete Prichard and I represented Vantage at the monthly economic development advisory group meeting. Dave Krendl, Cool Machines, Inc. gave the program today, followed by a tour of his business, which designs and assembles various "cool machines" which are shipped all over the nation and to other countries. No fabrication is currently done onsite, just design and assembly. Among his employees are at least two former Vantage students, one who travels frequently to troubleshoot equipment sold, and who was recently in Hawaii, to troubleshoot for a client of Cool Machines. What an awesome opportunity for our graduates.

 Mr. Krendl's business has many facets, but one which brings some notoriety to Van Wert, Ohio is the equipment they design and assemble for Snow Business, based in the UK. Snow Business supplies "snow" (paper shavings) for all the James Bond movies, Band of Brothers, and many other movie and special events requiring snow effects. Cool Machines' equipment was also used to create the massive dust storm in a recent Tom Cruise movie for a desert scene. The desert sandstorm was really fibrous shavings, or cardboard particles, being blown onto the movie set.

Cool Machines, Inc. is located in the former business incubator site, at 740 Fox Road. Mr. Krendl sums up his business by stating, "We help other businesses by designing the processes they need to accomplish their goals". If a client knows what their end goal is, Cool Machines can make it happen--asphalt application and earth bricks are also emerging processes. Cool Machines is something to see, right here in Van Wert!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Things are shaping up and loose ends are coming together as we prepare for the next school year. Have been thinking how grateful I am for the talented staff I work with at Vantage. Tough issues are solved, new ideas are encouraged and often come to fruition, and there is always evidence of staff members "going the extra mile" for the sake of Vantage. It is a good feeling to be surrounded by an incredible staff on a daily basis!

Administrative work, such as finding a new CTE teacher, is always fulfilling, but can be a stressor. While increasingly difficult to fill several of these positions as the years go by, it continues to inspire me when our administrative team is able to persuade (yes, persuade) Route B or alternative teacher licensure pathway candidates, to try teaching their trade to high school students. The search is sometimes long and takes many curves, but there is no better feeling than seeing a new CTE teacher grow and develop his/her teaching skills. It is not an easy adjustment for these skilled workers to enter the teaching profession.

The best satisfaction is in knowing that young people have been prepared to enter the workforce and earn a living for themselves.

As always, Today Matters.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Finally! A Blog Update!

Summer at Vantage is filled with tasks to get ready for the new school year. We are currently trying to fill our Agriculture instructor position at Paulding High School, where we operate the satellite ag program. OSU's class of ag graduates is slim this year, and may be a sign of the times. The food science industry is booming and may be drawing some ag graduate to enter industry vs. teaching. Family and Consumer Science instructors have been on the decline as well, with only a few of our universities turning out FCS graduates with teaching licensure. Hopefully the small graduating class adding to the shortage of ag candidates is an aberration this year for OSU.

My last blog or two included a bit about a new diet and exercise plan to control my cholesterol levels--I am pleased to announce that 7 months of discipline and hard work resulted in cutting my "bad" cholesterol by half, and reduced the total number by over 60 pts. The best thing though, is healthier habits have been formed! (However, I wouldn't turn down a cookie right now.)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Squish. . .Squish. . .

So glad I am no longer hearing "squish. . .squish" as I walk into my office. We've been back in school after the big snowstorm and arctic temperatures, but not on time any day this week. I was greeted by a flooded office on Wednesday morning when I arrived, due to a frozen sprinkler system in this area of the building. The water flow wasn't full force, as it was frozen, so the alarm didn't go off to warn maintenance, as it is set on a flow meter. The early childhood lab's storage closet was still in inch deep or more water when I arrived there, and spreading out into the lab. After unloading the closet to dry things out, my boots and jeans were soaked, so I am glad I live close by to run home and change clothes. Luckily the flooding was confined to our office area, and ECE. The water at one point was baseboard high in my office and the hallway out to the reception area. THANK YOU, maintenance and SERVICE MASTER for acting quickly to begin the clean up. WHAT  A DAY!

So while the good news is the water damage is only in two areas, the bad news is the walls in my office had to be cut a foot up, to pull out the soaked insulation. Repair work will start when a contractor can get here, estimates coming this morning. I am camping out in the District Conference Room for now, as use of my office is impossible. We are not enjoying the lull of the fans blowing to dry the floor out in most of our work areas, but we are tolerating the disarray of moved furniture in the hallway and fans everywhere. Maybe next week will be a normal week--whatever that is! For now, Today Matters, and I will have to get as much done as I can in the temporary set up.

Friday, January 3, 2014


What a quiet building it is when all the students and staff are home on the holiday break. Given the weather predictions for this weekend, it is unlikely school will start on time on Monday, if at all.

I have had much difficulty since we changed to "all things Google" with signing into my blog--I have seriously tried to write several times since my last post, but couldn't access it. Thanks to a quiet day and being caught up in most other work, I finally asked for technical assistance! Problem solved--Thank you, Luke Compton!

Luke joined the staff last July when Eric Vennekotter left to accept a promotion with the Pandora-Gilboa school district. Luke has hit the ground running at Vantage. I am glad he had some time to help.

In past weeks we honored our new student inductees to the National Technical Honor Society. Every associate school had at least one staff member present. It was a great evening with students and their parents. Now we are gearing up for the annual Open House/BBQ Dinner on February 10. For many years, this has been a VTO scholarship funraiser, and for the past few years, a Citizens For Vantage levy campaign fundraiser. In 2014 all dinner ticket proceeds will go to assist with student events and activities at Vantage. Staff members are asked to purchase or sell 5 dinner tickets, and many of us are seeking sponsorship donations from area businesses. The challenge is on to see who can get the most sponsors!

Since it's January 3, are you making resolutions for the new year? I have made a few, primarily for achieving better health and connecting more (even if it's electronically) with my sisters. Without boring you with my new health regimen, I will say that I have already tried several new foods and committed for the past 2 weeks to a new exercise regimen which suits both me and my schedule. BTW: Kale and almond milk are not as bad as I thought. The best time is now--Today Matters!