On Aug. 2, administrators from school districts that are members of the Stark County Educational Service Center gathered at First Christian Church in Plain Township.
Their annual late-summer meeting served as a precursor to the speech Sir Ken Robinson delivered on the state of education in the United States. He captivated the audience with a blend of anecdotes, statistics and opinions sprinkled with plenty of humor to keep everyone engaged.
He was not the funniest person in the room to step up to a microphone, however.
For my money, that honor would have gone to Lake Superintendent Kevin Tobin. The material, timing and delivery made you wonder: Why ask voters to pass a levy? Just send this guy to the improv and charge admission. Financial issues solved!
Few on the stage escaped the receiving end of Tobin's wit. All in good fun, of course.
Stark ESC now represents districts in five counties (Carroll, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne), and it became evident from the comments various superintendents made, even Tobin's frequent jabs, that the county office has built positive relationships with its member schools.
That's important when the county office often serves as the local districts' buffer with the state.
All of the mandates and initiatives coming from Columbus pass through the Stark County ESC and down to the individual districts. It is important for the districts to know and to trust that someone is advocating on their behalf.
While Tobin and a few other superintendents went for laugh lines, some others took a more philosophical route when it was their turn at the podium. A few comments in particular struck a chord with the audience.
"Open your heart to the possibilities of what can be, for all students." -- Michele Shaffer, Louisville
"Never underestimate your influence as leaders of young people." -- Gary Chaddock, Minerva
"The most important thing is to stay united ... not in silos ... but together." -- Brent May, Plain Local
It's hard to believe we're only a couple of weeks away from the start of another school year. As demonstrated Wednesday, our kids are in great hands.