Tallmadge -- In the race for Tallmadge School Board, three candidates are running unopposed for three seats in the Nov. 5 general election.
The terms of incumbents Rick Kellar, who's president of the Board, and member Valorie Prulhiere, expire Dec. 31, while Chris Tywon is a newcomer.
Kellar, president of the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation in Hudson, has served on the Board since 2005.
His interest in continuing to be on the Board stems from the values of giving back to the community and education as an important part of life that his family instilled in him at a young age, particularly his mother who was an elementary school teacher.
"The opportunity to serve in the town that I live in is something that's very important to me, with [my] kids in the district and as a member of the community," he said.
His children started kindergarten in the district. His oldest graduated last year, and his youngest is a junior at the high school.
"The opportunities I've seen my oldest daughter have and my youngest is going to have is a product of the Tallmadge school system. It reminds me of an opportunity I've had, and it validates how I good I believe our district is," Kellar said.
In his next four-year term, he'd like to see the school district continue its progress in academic excellence and continue with its plans for an elementary campus.
"I think we excel in the academic rigor in the classroom and also in the extracurricular activities, so a wholistic approach," he said. "I've seen a trend in Tallmadge where we continually improve the level of academic successes of our students and the opportunities that they have."
He believes an area of opportunity for the school district is to better communicate with residents to understand what they want and convey what the school district is going on their behalf.
To help students meet the state's newly-imposed, more rigorous standards, the district should continue to rely on its experienced teachers, he said.
As far as safety in the schools, Kellar said the district "is as safe as any in our area."
"I think we're safe, but I also think safety is an ongoing diligence; we're only safe because we continue to think about being safe, add features to our district to make it even saver as we learn about other things out there that could harm our district," he said.
Prulhiere, a registered nurse and forensic nurse consultant for Summa Health Systems, has been on the Board since 2002. She also serves on the Elder Abuse Commission for the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
Prulhiere called the school district "proactive" in its planning for the new state standards, and said it continues to work on staff development and maintain its level of teaching to help students succeed.
During the next four years, Prulhiere said she'd like to see the school district among those in he top 5 percent in Ohio, partner with the city to save money, find ways to incorporate personal technology into learning and diligently seek additional funding opportunities.
"I think we excel at teaching with rigor, at creating a challenging learning environment for our students," she said.
As far as other opportunities for the school district, Prulhiere said it could increase engagement with the community which might lead to more support for school levies.
"Bringing nonparents and just residents in to utilize the buildings. I'm a huge proponent for adult learning and finding ways to maximize the use of the facilities and the assets we have to benefit the entire community and not just our children," she said.
As far as safety in the schools, Prulhiere said she believes the district has done a good job, but there is always room for improvement, while recognizing some ideas might be unrealistic with the district's current funding and facilities.
"Our responsibility is to do everything we can to provide a safe environment, physically and emotionally ... We've done a reasonable job of balancing putting reasonable safety policies and practices in place," she said, adding this has been done while maintaining a school-like atmosphere instead of one that resembles something more restrictive. Prulhiere points out the secure vestibules that have been added to Dunbar Primary and Munroe Elementary schools last summer, crisis management training the staff has undergone and ongoing communication with parents as examples.
Tywon, owner of print and promotions business Proforma, is the husband of a Tallmadge graduate and also the father of two graduates.
Tywon said he hopes by serving on the Board he'll be able to give back to the community what he feels the school district has given his family. At the end of the day, he said knowing he has done his best as a member of the Board and had a positive influence on students and employees of the district will be satisfying.
He said he believes his background in managing different companies and employees has given him the skills to be an effective Board member.
"Being a good listener and having a can-do attitude, for everything there's a solution," he said. "I'm able to work with all parties involved to come up with a solution."
Tywon said he believes communication and getting feedback from teachers and districts that have successfully adapted to the new state standards will in turn help students meet the requirements.
"I think the schools do an excellent job of preparing students for the real world and college ... but I do think sometimes we worry too much about the [state mandated tests]. I think if you teach the basics, the testing will speak for itself," he said.
During his term, Tywon said he would like to address the possibility of new facilities for students and continue to uphold the excellence of the district.
As far as safety in the schools, he said although nothing comes to mind that needs to be improved, the topic shouldn't be forgotten.
"I think the schools are safe, but in the ever-changing world it's important to review and get some feedback ... ," he said, adding that teachers and principals in the district as well as other school districts in the area could be resources.
Board members are elected to serve four-year terms. The terms for the open seats are from Jan. 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2017.
Editor's note: For more information on the Tallmadge Board of Education candidates, see their profiles on Page 29.
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Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.