School officials say outgoing Superintendent Paul Craft leaves behind a legacy of community connections.

Wednesday was Craft’s last official day with Delaware City Schools. He was hired as the superintendent in 2010 after he taught for 17 years at Upper Arlington Schools. In his nine years at Delaware, Craft led the district through seven successful levies, numerous construction projects, and massive student population growth.

Craft announced in March that he had accepted a position as CEO of the Metropolitan Educational Technology Association (META).

META’s website states the company’s goal is to “develop, implement, and support the technology and instructional needs of schools in a cost-effective manner so they can focus on what’s important — creating a culture of learning.”

Jayna McDaniel-Browning, president of the Delaware Board of Education, said Wednesday that she met Craft during a “meet and greet” tour for the first levy of his tenure. McDaniel-Browning said she was asked by Susan Wells, a coordinator for the campaign, if she could host an event to discuss the levy.

“I was fairly appalled that I couldn’t get more than a handful of people together to listen to Paul’s pitch, but he was so gracious, despite the small audience,” McDaniel-Browning said. “I can’t remember how many of those meet and greets he attended, but I think it was well into the hundreds. It told me a few things about him: he would work as many hours as it took to get the job done; he understood the value of personal relationships; and he really wanted our schools and students to succeed. All those things turned out to be true — he really was a tremendous leader for Delaware City Schools.”

Board Vice President Matt Weller said Wednesday that the connection between the district and the community grew because of Craft.

“I believe that Paul understands the importance of the relationship between the school district and community better than any superintendent that I know of,” Weller said. “Under his leadership, the community confidence (in our district) has grown exponentially. We wish him well as he moves on to his next challenge.”

Craft said that he’ll still be involved with the district after he leaves the position because his children will continue to study here.

Delaware City Schools Director of Communications Jennifer Ruhe said Craft was very involved in being part of Delaware.

“From his first day in Delaware, Paul made himself available to the community,” Ruhe said. “From formal presentations and community meetings to grilling hotdogs for the staff and sitting in the dunk tank for a school event, he enjoyed every chance to connect with students, staff and families.”

Ruhe said that Craft improved the district and everyone he worked with.

“From a personal perspective, I feel very fortunate to have worked with Mr. Craft for the past nine years,” Ruhe said. “Not only was he committed to ensuring our entire district continued to move forward, he also helped each of us grow personally and professionally. His collaborative leadership style allowed for great discussions that ultimately led to better decisions. We are fortunate to have benefited from his leadership over the past nine years. And we are grateful that his dedication to our schools and community continue in a new capacity as a school and community advocate.”

Heidi Kegley was named as Craft’s successor in April. Kegley has been with the district since 2003 and has served as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent. Kegley officially became superintendent on Thursday.

After the board appointed Kegley in April, Craft said the board made a great decision, adding that appointing Kegley is one of the best decisions the board has ever made, even better than the decision to hire him.

“Paul is an outstanding leader who connected with everyone in our schools and the Delaware community to move our district forward,” Kegley said Wednesday. “Through Paul’s leadership, Delaware City Schools has continued to grow and achieve at high levels.”

Kegley said Craft’s departure is “bittersweet.”

“It is truly bittersweet to have Paul leave the district as the Superintendent,” Kegley said. “I am so happy for him personally, but I will truly miss working with him each day. He has been instrumental in helping me to grow professionally and has helped everyone to remain focused on what is most important, and that is our students. I am grateful he will still be in our community as a parent and an involved member of our schools.”

Delaware City Schools Superintendent Paul Craft reads a book to Michelle Brandum’s first-grade class on a September afternoon at Smith Elementary School in 2015. Craft’s last day with the district was Wednesday. City Schools Superintendent Paul Craft reads a book to Michelle Brandum’s first-grade class on a September afternoon at Smith Elementary School in 2015. Craft’s last day with the district was Wednesday.

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.