There will be several new faces leading the Buckeye Valley Local School District when the Barons return to class on Aug. 18.
There will be new principals at both elementary schools and at Buckeye Valley High School, and Paul Craft is joining the district to serve as its new superintendent.
Craft joins the district after serving as the CEO of Meta Solutions for three years and serving as the superintendent of Delaware City Schools for nine years. Craft and his family live in the district, and he said in July that when the school year begins, he will have a child at the elementary level, the middle school and the high school.
Craft said his goals going into this school year are to help students grow and make up for learning lost during the pandemic.
“As we come back out of the pandemic and into what we hope is the most normal year we’ve had in three years (our goals are) raising our behavioral and academic expectations for every kid,” Craft said. “We’re going to try to make sure this is a year where our kids have a full year or more of growth as we try to catch up from some of the learning losses that kids have experienced over the last couple of pandemic years. Some of that is going to be additional support. We have more kids doing extended school year this summer than we’ve ever had to give that extra time and attention to getting our kids fully back on track.”
At Buckeye Valley High School, Zachary Riggs will step into the principal position. Riggs previously served as the principal of Columbus International High School and has also served as the assistant principal of Centennial and Eastmoor High Schools. Riggs is a graduate of Bluffton University and received his master’s degree in educational policy and leadership from The Ohio State University.
Buckeye Valley East will be led by Leah Ann Childers, an Ostrander resident and the previous principal of Garfield Elementary School in Marion. Before serving in leadership roles in Marion and Jonathan Alder Local Schools, Childers taught for nearly 15 years in Delaware City Schools. Childers is a graduate of The Ohio State University and received her Master of Arts degree in school administration from Concordia University in Chicago.
Buckeye Valley West Elementary will be led by Michelle Howard, who joins the district after serving as the principal for George Washington Elementary School in Marion. Prior to leading the team at George Washington, she served as the principal at Hayes Elementary as well as an assistant principal and teacher in Marion. Howard is a graduate of the State University of New York College at Oneonta, and she received her Master of Education degree from Binghamton University and another master’s in educational leadership from Concordia University in Chicago.
Craft said it’s a challenge and an opportunity that the majority of the building level administrators in the district are new this year, himself included.
“There’s lots of change for this year but that also gives you an opportunity to build a sense of team and direction,” Craft said.
The first day of school for students is Aug. 18. There will be no school on Sept. 5 for Labor Day and on Sept. 19 and 20 for fair days. The first quarter will end on Oct. 14 with a professional development day for teachers, and the fall semester will conclude on Dec. 19 with another professional development day for teachers.
More information — including school supply lists — can be found at buckeyevalley.k12.oh.us.