By Joseph Pratt
The role of superintendent of the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center (ESC) has officially been in the hands of Sandy Mers for a month now, and she is finding time in her busy schedule to get settled in and look ahead.
The dedication of the new superintendent is worn on her sleeve, which was recently showcased when she stepped up as interim superintendent of Valley without hesitation, just as she was accepting the position at the ESC. The school lost a superintendent late in the summer and needed someone to fill the position until they found the permanent replacement. Mers stepped up as an interim Indian and held the office down for several weeks, performing both jobs, until Valley could find stability in Superintendent Scott Rolfe.
Mers said this past week was actually the first time she was able to submerge herself into her own work completely, without other duties popping up that need tending to. She claims to be learning the role quickly and is ready to ensure the quality of many school districts.
The superintendent sits in a modestly updated office, backed by a wall of many certificates and degrees. Most importantly, however, are the photographs and memories of past students educators, and peers; people she has carried with her over her career in education. She spoke fondly of many people who have shaped her over her life, even naming her own teachers from elementary schools.
Mers began her career in teaching when she was young, playing school as a child and dreaming of one day having a classroom of her own. The desire to teach and become a role model for children stuck with her as she entered college, graduated, and began teaching at South Point Local Schools.
The educator learned a lifetime of knowledge behind the doors of South Point, as she taught hundreds of students in a variety of grade levels over the course of 22 years. Her desire to help kids continued to grow until she began to further her education and pursue her superintendent certification.
Mers took over the role of superintendent in Green Local Schools four years ago and served the district to her full extent the entirety of her stay. Mers said that she loved being a Bobcat, and if the opportunity to pursue her current position hadn’t opened so quickly, she would have gladly stayed for many more years.
She is now in the ESC, playing the role of coach, partner, cheerleader, and more, to over 17 school districts, thanks to 26 years of dedicated learning, training, and a driving passion to help children succeed.
“I am excited, humbled, and honored,” Mers said. “This is a great opportunity for me to impact more kids, make positive advancements for local education, and to help all local districts succeed.”
Mers said that she is still getting comfortable in her chair to yet decide any official long-term goals that she hopes to achieve in office.
“It is still too new to me for now. Over the next year, I hope to the biggest support I can for the locals,” Mers explained. “Their job is very, very tough and anything I can do to help will be my goal. Anything I can do there, will trickle down.”
Mers will be doing a lot to assist in the local school districts, from offering services at heavily discounted prices, assisting in compliance and new endeavors, to helping her own administrative staff look over programs that the ESC offers.
“We have something for everyone at the ESC,” Mers explained. “We have Sharee Price who can so skillfully tap into the arts, gifted services, and all of those nice things, expanding on traditional education. We have Pat Ciraso, who comes with years of experience to give kids who aren’t doing so great at traditional education the extra chance to succeed. You talk about a cheerleader, Pat goes to the ends of the Earth to cheer and provide for these students. Then we have Rob Seaman, with ABLE, who helps adults in the area and helps transition students into a career tech or a post-secondary option.”
Mers went on to explain many other programs and dedicated administrators who make them possible. She also discussed the ESC’s role in the community and the meaningful and productive partnerships forged through the work the ESC commits to accomplish.
“In my experience, I am honestly left to believe Scioto County Schools are top-notch educational institutions. I have worked with every superintendent, the principals, and many of the teachers, and I can honestly say that Scioto County Schools, and our surrounding partners, truly, truly care about the well-being and education of all students. They help each other out; even though these schools compete athletically, there is no tension between these schools when one school needs something, because they are so willing to help.”
Mers said that she doesn’t believe the bonds between districts in other areas of the state are as formidable, which makes her proud to have such devoted peers in her line of work.
Mers said that the peer she has been blessed to have the most is former ESC Superintendent Lowell Howard, who took a lot of his own time to help her transition smoothly into the superintendency.
“Following Lowell Howard is a huge undertaking,” Mers said. “He is a wonderful, educationally-minded man. I’ve got a big job and I will always give it my very best to do whatever I can for any of these schools.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03