As the leaves begin to fall, and kids head back to school, things are changing and just like that, there are new changes happening at Scioto Community Schools(East).
Foresta Shope has been named the new school superintendent filling the position left by Rick Bowman and Amanda Conkel has stepped into the position of Principal of Sciotoville Elementary Academy that Shope vacated to take over the helm of Superintendent.
This transition should be a smooth one, as Shope and Conkel have worked together for many years and are ready to team up come Tuesday morning to greet the students coming back to school after the summer break.
Shope says it was quite a surprise to find out the position was going to be available. Shope will start out under alternative licensure until she obtains the needed hours or classes. According to her, Superintendent Sandy Mers, of the Educational Service Center handled the search for superintendent and worked with the school board in finding the superintendent. Shope’s husband, Bill who is on the school board recused himself through the entire process, so as not to cause a conflict of interest. This is why Mers was handling the process and Bill did not vote on the final decision for the same reason.
“As soon as I found out, I was like, are you kidding, that he’s leaving, we had no idea at all that he was thinking of leaving. I had never thought of being a superintendent before, I love my role as a principal. It was kind of abrupt on how I became principal, I wrote the grant to start the school and I enjoyed teaching and I had 15 years of teaching in and I have 11 years in as principal and it just happens to me that way,” Shope said. “I’ve worked with K-12 teachers as curriculum director too. And as for Amanda and I, we’ve been together since the beginning and I have every confidence in her and I want to make sure she is able to spread her wings and do with it, what she wants to do, she has a lot of respect from the teachers and she’s been an educational leader in the teacher role.”
Shope started at Sciotoville in 2003 and had taught at other places before with this being her 27th year in education.
“It kind of makes sense not bringing in a new person and in my position. I did the interview and I feel like together we can get that done. I definitely am going to be involved with the kids and its kind of creating that fun exciting atmosphere in the elementary to the middle school and high school,” Shope said. “They are still kids they may be 16,17, or 18, but who doesn’t want to be excited to come to school every day? I still see them as my babies because I had them when they were in the elementary and we already have that relationship.”
She added about being able to hold students accountable as a parent would. “I’ve told our parents that I’m gonna love your kids, like mine and that means, I’m going to love them like mine,” Shope said. “We have a close partnership with the community and it does take a village. I’m looking forward to expanding that through K12, that sense of love and support. ….I think we need to play that guidence and support role.”
Shope said her goal is raising test scores. “I look at all of our staff and experts in that area, and I believe that the key is student motivation and making sure that the kids understand what their expectations are, but also allowing those kids as many opportunities as it takes to learn the material. It’s not like one and done anymore, and I think that that type of unique learning situation for each child is important, so that when they come in, they know they are not going to be allowed to fail,” Shope said. “We don’t allow our own kids to fail, we don’t allow our own kids to accept being average We want all of our students to want to be excellent and I think demonstrating that to our kids that we choose our future, we choose what our life is going to be, but we need to be excellent in everything we do no matter what their future is. I’ve told my kids ever since I started teaching, that whatever you decide to do with your life is your choice, but you should be the best at it. If we want our community and our world to change, we have to tell our students and guide them and motivate them every single day. It’s sometimes a misconception that the parents in this area don’t want their kids to graduate or that they don’t care, but they do.”
Shope says she is ready for her new role. “I’m excited to be more involved in middle school and high school and I want to be involved with the kids I think that is a big part of it, just being visable and just reminding them how they use to love school,” Shope said. “We love that every kid is different and that every kid is wanted and loved at our school, I want kids to feel that love and feel like they are coming home when they come to school.”
Conkel talked about being hired as the new principal. She has been a teacher there for 11 years and she has taught Kindergarten, Second, Third, and fourth and fifth grade Math.
“This position came up unexpectedly,” but she didn’t want to pass the opportunity up, so she applied for the position. Conkel does not have a permanent principal’s certificate yet, but has an alternative one that will allow her to finish school to receive the certificate. “It just kind of happened, one of the other teachers asked if I had heard how everything was going and if Foresta was going to be the superintendent, but then they said there were others applying that did not have their principal’s certificate, so when I heard that, I thought it’s worth a shot,” Conkel said. “I hadn’t planned on this, it just happened. I’m excited and Foresta has been my boss in the system, it just worked out.”
Speaking to Conkel about their academic scores and what she sees going forward, she said, “Just being in the classroom, just so recent, will help and it is what we work for, that’s our goal, to maintain and improve scores. Sometimes they don’t see all the other good we do, and people just look for the scores, we need the scores so people can come and see what good things are going on at the school.”
Conkel continued, “I am really excited about this position, I don’t plan on changing a lot. Foresta did a really great job. I don’t plan on making any major changes and that’s what I told her in my interview,” she said. “I feel like it’s going to be a smooth transition, just because I have been here for 12 years and know how she ran things and want to keep everything how she had it.”
Conkel is from Wheelersburg and married to Zack, who is the pastor of Union Freewill Baptist Church and has two daughters Sydney, who is 17 and is a senior and Ellie is 8 and is in second grade at Wheelersburg.
“Everyone has been so supportive so far. We’ve had two days back already and they’ve worked really hard to get everything ready for the beginning of the school year, so I think we’re going to have a great year,” Conkel said. “I think its going to be really good and excited about this opportunity.”
Shope concluded with that on Monday evening, from 5:00 to 8:00 grades K-5, the elementary, are holding a carnival and the 6-12 grades, have orientation, where they encourage parents and students to come and get to know their teachers and be able to ask questions.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
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