Reeder to lead Hayes into future


Hayes High School Interim Principal Rex Reeder, who will formally become the school’s principal this summer, said he’s ready to give it his best effort.

Reeder was made interim principal in December 2023, following then-Principal Dr. Ric Stranges’ move to become superintendent of Buckeye Valley Local Schools. Reeder said at the time that he asked for the interim position rather than the permanent position because he wanted to see if he could handle the role before committing to it.

“It’s a lot,” Reeder said Friday. “People have to understand it’s a lot of responsibility managing 2,000-plus people. There’s more to it. You have to be at a place in your life where you can handle these things. I’ve got two young kids and a mother in memory care. There’s a lot on my plate, but (one of) our core values is ‘Finish.’ I need to finish what I started. I need to do that.”

On Monday, the Delaware City Schools Board of Education approved his move to the position of principal, effective Aug. 1.

“I have plenty of goals,” Reeder said. “My family understands that, (but) I can’t be at everything, my family comes first. My kids are more important. (However), the staff here means more than they know to me. I respect them, and they’re great professionals. I honestly think Delaware can be great, not saying that it isn’t great now, but I think we should have high expectations to be one of the best school districts in the state.”

Reeder said his goal at the school is to provide opportunities for students.

“As a leader, my mentality of always trying to make things better and the goal for me is every kid deserves the opportunity to have success,” Reeder said. “The kids deserve and the staff deserve the opportunity to make that happen. When you’re a leader, I think it’s not by words, it’s by example. That’s more important to me than anything else. (We have to focus on) every kid, every day. Our focus is on every kid, and our decision should be kid-based; how can we help them reach their dreams?”

Reeder praised the staff at Hayes for stepping up during the leadership transition.

“We’re a team that’s all-in,” he said. “We’ve changed our game to where it’s very much a team approach. The staff has been very good at doing a number of things constantly. They’ve really chipped in. … It means a lot.”

Reeder said the school has “work to do,” but “that’s what’s fun about building.”

“I’m not a leader who lives in the world of applause, conflict or criticism,” Reeder said. “I’m at a good place to do this for them because I’m past the place where I have to check in with everybody to make a decision. I’m pretty decisive. I take feedback and listen and try to understand, but I’m not looking back. The ability to make those decisions is crucial. What people need to understand about me is that I’m here to serve. What that means is I want the best interest for your kids. I care about the kids, and I care about our staff.”

Reeder said he wants the community to understand that parents and the school are “on the same team.”

“I think we need to have honest communication,” Reeder said. “We’re here to help you. It’s not us against you. We need to stop that mantra. We’re on the same team. This is a Delaware community, we’re here to serve but there’s sometimes we have to make tough decisions and tell you things you don’t want to hear. This is business, it’s not personal. Our business is to take care of kids and help them reach their dreams in the future. … To make them have a chance to have a skillset and be successful against a very competitive world in the job market.”

Reeder said he isn’t the same person as Stranges and is thankful for the foundation he laid at Hayes.

“I can’t be Dr. Stranges,” Reeder said. “He’s great. He has his own skill set, but I have my own, too. The relationships he built and the things he’s done here are very valuable. It’s not an easy person to follow, but I’m not worried.”

Reeder said the search will begin soon for a new assistant principal to replace him.

“We want to hire the best talent out there,” he said. “We’re looking for the best because Delaware deserves the best. I’m not looking for ‘yes’ people. I think that’s important. We’re going to push them. Academically, I expect us to get up to par with the top schools. The next 20 years are going to be different. We can’t just be reactive.”

Reeder said he’s “ready to go.”

“I’ll give it my best,” Reeder said. “I want this to be a positive opportunity for all students. I don’t just tell the kids ‘we need to be great’ because excellence is defined by ‘I’m going to do my very best at everything I do, every time.’ You have to look at yourself, be you and give your best.”

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

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