Board of education members are the public representation of a community and make up school districts’ governing body. As January is School Boards Recognition Month in Ohio, the Greenfield Exempted Village School District is taking the opportunity to recognize its school board.
Following is a small profile on each of the Greenfield board members:
The board president, Charley Roman, was born in West Virginia, but moved to the Greenfield area when he was 2 years old. He graduated from McClain High School in 2005 and lives in South Salem with his wife, Racheal; three sons Ross, Rhett and Reed; and foreign exchange student daughter, Geneve.
Roman is a nurse practitioner at Roman Family HealthCare in Greenfield. He first sought election to the school board because he wanted to be more involved with the school.
“I currently have two children in the school system, three if you count Gen, so I wanted to be involved and to do my part in making sure we are giving the students the best possible education we can,” Roman said. “I graduated from this district and I want to see it succeed.”
Roman is in his fourth year as a school board member and his second as board president. He said he finds the biggest challenge of being a school board member is educating people on the role of the school board, which is not day-to-day operations — that is for the superintendent.
“I am one of five members,” he said. “Just because I want something doesn’t mean anyone else will.”
However, policies, employment and procedures are part of the school board’s work and one of the rewards of the position is seeing those things put in place to help keep the district growing in the right directions, which makes the district one of the best, Roman said.
Board vice president Eric Wise is from Greenfield and graduated from McClain in 1996. He is married to Miranda Ritchey and they have two children, Robbie and Abby, who are both McClain students. Wise works at Highland District Hospital in the Center of Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine.
Wise, in his second year on the board, said he ran for school board so he could be a part of making a difference in the community and in education, which are “two very important issues” in his life. “I want to give back a little for what all this community has given me,” he said.
As 2020 was Wise’s first year as a school board member, he not only had to learn what it takes to successfully fill that role — responsibilities, budgets, finances, funding, processes of running the school, etc. — but all during a pandemic, which, made it all the more challenging. And while there have been tough decisions in the first year, he is looking forward with excitement.
Wise thanked administration across the district “for all the hard work they do every day. GEVS is a wonderful place to learn, work and be a community.”
Sandy Free graduated in 1975 from Waverly. She is married to McClain graduate Chuck Free. They have four children, 11 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. She has worked as a dental assistant and was a regional sales leader for Longaberger for 35 years.
Free has served as a 4-H advisor for the Buckskin Stitchers and Mixers for the last 35 years, and has served in various other community and school organizations. Now, she says she has “the best job ever” watching her grandchildren.
Free, who through combined terms has served on the school board for 18 years, chose to run because she wanted to help continue to give the children of the district an excellent education.
“They, indeed, are our future. Someone was there for my children and I wanted to do the same for others. We have an awesome district and wonderful people that work hard together for our students. We always want to continue to strive for excellence,” she said.
For Free, watching students succeed, witnessing how students and staff work together, volunteering wherever she can, and being a part of the milestones like handing out diplomas at graduation, are what she finds most rewarding.
She finds the challenges to be when the board has to make tough decisions. But through it all she said she reminds herself that the kids are the top priority. “That’s why we are here, to do what’s best for the kids,” she said.
Eric Zint is from Greenfield and graduated from McClain in 1996. He and his wife, Elena, have two children, Zoe and Zac, both of whom “love attending The World’s Greatest School — Greenfield Elementary,” he said. Zint is owner and operator of the Corner Health Mart Pharmacy.
Like the others, Zint ran for school board “to give back to the school that gave so much to me and my family.” This year is the final year of Zint’s second four-year term. During his tenure he has served as board president and vice-president.
He says that being a school board member is rewarding in that he is a part of various projects being planned for and being implemented in the district, getting to know staff and students, and assisting to shape policy. And when challenges arise, “and they do,” he said, “it’s nice to know that we tackle them as a team.”
Marilyn Mitchell is from South Salem and is a 1970 graduate of McClain. She lives in Greenfield with her husband, Delbert, and their two dogs. The Mitchells have three children: Maggie Lyons, Lyndsey Mincey and Jesse Mitchell, all McClain graduates and all involved in education. The Mitchells also have eight grandchildren.
Mitchell was an educator, having taught 38 years, with 34 of those in Greenfield where she taught all levels of special education, served 28 years as a student council advisor, and 10 years as a cheer advisor.
She has been on the school board now for seven years, and initially ran for the position because she wanted to serve there “as a teacher looking forward,” she said. “I loved teaching. I loved the students. I wanted to stay involved in our fine school.”
Rewards of the position for Mitchell are not only continuing to be involved in the school system, but being involved in the planning of district projects. The most challenging, she said, has been serving during the pandemic.
“Our district is so fortunate,” superintendent Quincey Gray said, “to have committed board members who encourage and support district growth and innovation that enhance the educational experience of our students.”
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.