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Ending with success

Miller has good feeling about shape of schools on his retirement

By JIM BREWER Published: August 1, 2017 4:00 AM
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After 18 years as superintendent, John Miller's last day at the helm of the Loudonville-Perrysville Schools was Friday, July 28.

Catherine Puster will take over as Superintendent on Aug. 1.

Miller, 58, said he has a "good feeling" about the shape the district is as he leaves it. "I feel very good about the direction the district is taking, and I am confident Catherine will continue our focus on student achievement. We have worked together closely on the transition since the board hired her in May."

Student achievement has been Miller's foremost focus in his 18 years here.

"I believe firmly that quality of education not be determined by zip code," he said. "I don't like the school of thought that quality education is available only in upper class communities. It that was true, it would be a terrible indictment on public education.

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"Our kids in the L-P District can compete successfully not just with other area schools, but with schools all over the world," he continued. "We have provided students with access to technology, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programming, and great teachers! We emphasize this with quality always in mind. A by-product of this is our graduation rate, around 95 percent, compared with a state average in the low 70s.

"And while doing this, we have also striven to provide support for kids who struggle in academic areas," he said. "We have placed emphasis on our special education programs, and implemented all day Kindergarten. While we have increased the academic rigor of our courses, we have also provided a safety net for kids who struggle."

Miller's primary regret in his service here is "not getting a building project. I understand the reasons people opposed this, and respect their feelings, but the necessity of doing something long term about our facilities has not gone away."

Miller's plans on retirement involve continuing service in education on a part time basis. "I would consider serving as an interim superintendent where needed, and I am talking with a school law firm about the possibility of becoming an investigator for school related legal cases. Neither of these options are for sure at this point, but my plan is to somehow be professionally active. One reason for this is my wife, Penny, grades 6-12 counselor for the Crestline Schools, plans to work for at least two more years."

Miller also says he will continue his presence in the Loudonville-Perrysville communities, including service on the Ashland County Community Foundation board and recent appointment to the Loudonville Public Library Living Legacy Foundation, and long-term membership in the Loudonville Lions Club.

Miller grew up in Westerville, graduating in 1977 from Westerville South High School. He then attended Miami University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1981 with a comprehensive social studies manor, and a Masters in Education with a Library-Media emphasis in 1984. He later earned his superintendent's license at Wright State University, and has completed post-license coursework since at Wright State, Miami, Ohio State, the University of Dayton, and Ashland University.

Prior to coming to Loudonville in 1999, he served as library media specialist and world history teacher in the Deer Park Schools near Cincinnati from 1981-85, and in various positions in the Troy City Schools in Miami County from 1985-1999. He started there as technology director, a post that included library and media direction, and left as the district's Director of Communication.

His interested in the Loudonville position was peaked when he received a brochure in the mail from Ed Swartz, then superintendent of the Tri-County Educational Service Center in Wooster, which was conducting the search for the L-P Superintendent.

"I talked with Ed first, and then came up for a series of interviews, ultimately being hired," he remembered. "It has been a great position for me. Were I not happy in the position, I would have left a long time ago."

"I believe my personality is well suited for a smaller school district," he said. "In a larger district, you are at the top of a number of different projects, maybe putting them together but not actually working on them. I like to be involved in what I set up, to interact with both the staff and the students, to always be working on a mix of different projects, and to be involved in the community."


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