Graham leaders host Ohio Board of Education president


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Ohio’s Board of Education President toured the Graham Local schools Tuesday, seeking information on the Career Gears system, and how Graham is meshing STEAM learning and career path education K-12.

Superintendent Kirk Koennecke was pleased that Elshoff chose to visit Graham. “Direct contact with the State Board leader doesn’t happen every day. To have Mrs. Elshoff spend time here trying to understand our financial picture was so important. We do innovation here on a shoestring budget. I think we both agreed that what we could accomplish real change to foster career paths for all with a little more flexibility from Ohio and additional funding support for comprehensive schools.”

Ms. Elshoff met with Graham leaders for a candid dialogue about several topics, including the ongoing changes to the state report card, STEAM learning, K-12 testing fatigue, and the lack of state funding for career exploration K-12. A mother of 5, Elshoff has seen plenty in her tenure, and is a champion of equity for special needs learners. Director Emily Smith highlighted Graham’s enclave program for identified students and the partnerships with local companies CRSI and Tech II.

Tess Elshoff attended Wright State University, and has served on the state’s Board for 7 years. She is a former New Knoxville Local School Board member as well. A former Cub Scout Den Leader, Cloverbuds 4-H Adviser, and past member of the Education Board at Holy Rosary School in St. Marys, Elshoff has logged many miles in her tenure learning about schools across Ohio. She was appointed to the State Board both January 2011 and January 2015 by Gov. John Kasich. Her term expires December 31, 2018.

Koennecke thinks Elshoff gained a better understanding of what small and rural schools can do on a limited budget, and where they need more assistance and attention. “Mrs. Elshoff exclaimed admiration about our innovations several times. From our Lean Six Sigma certifications to what we do with Outdoor education, to advocacy for special needs students, there is no doubt we are impacting students positively, and those measures don’t always translate well on a report card document a group of politicians create for short-term attention.”

Koennecke cited his concerns regarding the lack of understanding and connection among the 19 state board members themselves, state politicians, and local districts. “Seeking understanding is the key to foster change in Ohio schools. Tess visits countless schools. More politicians and state board members need to reach out the way she has chosen to the past 7 years.”

Graham administrators shared ideas and career education funding concerns during a facility tour of the industrial spaces in the high school. Middle School Principal Chad Lensman shared the Falcon Farms projects, and how his STEAM courses link to high school career paths to help define a smoother transition for all students. GHS Principal Ryan Rismiller shared a local celebration, highlighting the ongoing global surveying project involving students with the Village of St. Paris. Rismiller pointed to certifications allowing Graham students’ community internships meaningful to them.

“Now, we need Ms. Elshoff to take our message back to the other Ohio leaders she works with to foster change!”

Submitted story

Submitted by Graham Superintendent Kirk Koennecke.

Submitted by Graham Superintendent Kirk Koennecke.