The new superintendent for the Adams County/Ohio Valley School District, Richard Seas, recently began work in the district and was able to sit down with The People’s Defender to talk about his vision for the schools in Adams County.
Seas, from St. Mary’s, Ohio, attended Ohio University out of high school and received a Bachelors in Science Education, a Masters of Education from Wright State University and an Educational Specialist Degree from the University of Dayton. Seas hopes to bring that passion for education he has to the children of Adams County.
Over the years Seas has bounced around a few school districts in both public and private education. First Seas went back to his Alma Mater in St. Mary’s and taught there for four years before stops in Springfield, Kettering, Coshocton, Tipp City and Coldwater where he was first a Junior High Principal before being Superintendent of Coldwater Schools for the past 12 years.
But with this stop, Seas says he hopes it’s his last.
“In the short time I’ve met a lot of good people,” Seas said. “There’s definitely some challenges here but I’m OK with that. I told everybody I want this to be my last stop. I see a lot of work to do here within 11 or 12 years.”
Seas brings a lot of experience and success from a highly rater school system in Coldwater, a record Seas is very proud of .
“You can go look at the records of Coldwater and find that’s a well oiled machine,” Seas said. “I think when I was there we always did exceptionally well in the state report card and the performance index was very high. At the end of the day I think I left them with a lot more money than they started with and I never increased anyone’s taxes which to me speaks volumes to what we tried to do. We tried to work with the money we were given.”
But going from a smaller school district in terms of both area and population to an area nearly county-wide with three school systems is the next challenge that Seas says drew him to this job.
“I’m always one of those guys who likes a challenge,” Seas said. “Coldwater is 44 square miles where this is 467 square miles. It’s really three school districts within a district and a CTC so it’s going to be busy. But I felt stale up [in Coldwater]. I needed a change after 12 years as a superintendent. If you look at that statistic right there with today’s superintendents that’s unheard of. You don’t hear of someone lasting 12 years. And I’ve always made it a goal to make decisions as if I’m going to retire there. That’s what I’m going to do here. I’m going to make decisions that will set us up for success.”
Seas said that he’ll have to do his job a little differently with such a large school district, relying on others to help him out since there are only so many hours in a day.
“You have to rely on good people,” Seas said. “It’s awfully hard for me since I was used to having my hand in everything [in Coldwater]. But here I just don’t have time for everything so it’s a different style of leadership. I need to make sure people under me know what they’re doing.”
Part of what Seas does hope to have his hand in though is changing the culture of education in Adams County, with more of an emphasis and passion for educating the youths of the area.
“It’s different up there [in Coldwater] than it is down here,” Seas said. “Education is more of a priority in Coldwater. It’s just a different set of values about what people believe in. I say it now and I’ll say it tomorrow and I’ll say it until the day I’m out of here but education has to be valued, anywhere you are.”
Seas also wants to change the focus on where education can take students, particularly in skilled labor fields.
“That’s often times taken as being degrading to people but what I’m saying is it just hasn’t been a priority but if you look at what could be available for the kids, which is what we’re about, we’re looking for skilled labor,” Seas said. “Great paying jobs. And I’m not talking about four-year college degrees. There’s a crisis because we can’t find skilled labor. We need machinists, we can’t find welders. You talk to plumbers and they can’t find people to do the plumbing – HVAC too. That really all boils back to working. We need to mold kids who want to work.”
Seas said he hopes to be able to peak students’ interests in programs like skilled labor, but knows that isn’t without challenges.
“You can just look at the beauty of our technical center,” Seas said. “There’s so many jobs attached to that right there. Real jobs. Real good paying jobs. $20 an hour plus jobs right out of high school if you can just train yourself up and connect with the business and the world. The thing is you have to have good attendance, you have to stay drug free and you might have to leave this area because there’s no jobs like that around here. And that’s probably a tough pill for some people to swallow because I find people around here to be very family oriented in a lot of ways – very tight knit which is great, but if you don’t have the business attached to the skill that you’re teaching someone, that’s difficult.”
Seas asked the parents of Adams County to help him during this transition process and potential cultural change surrounding education in the county.
“There’s a world of opportunity for our kids if we can just get them to train in some different areas and find some importance and that’s what I want to do is provide opportunities for kids,” Seas said. “Obviously you can’t force any kids into those opportunities and that’s where I’m going to need parental support to understand how they can better their own lives and the lives of their children if they get a good education.”
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391 or email@example.com.