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Date of birth: May, 14, 1953
Place of birth: Azalia
Title: Employee and student assistance coordinator at Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.
Primary duties: I work with students, family and staff on issues relating to safety, relationships and decision-making. About a third of my job revolves around drug and alcohol issues, but I also deal with homelessness, mental health and school safety planning.
Education: Bachelor’s in English from Indiana State University, master’s in English from Indiana University
Family: Wife, Julie; four daughters; two granddaughters
Community involvement: A lot of my work deals with local agencies, including the youth services center and substance abuse council. I serve on the boards of the Youth Services Center and Court Services. I also serve with the D.A.R.E. Council, the Domestic Violence Action Team, the Tobacco Action Team, the Child Protection Team and the Substance Abuse Council. And I have been a part of the Indiana School Safety Specialist training since it stated in 2000.
Hobbies: I write personal narratives to share with my families and have written a book that I’m trying to get published but may publish myself. Writing is good therapy, and my stories are a blend of humor and insight. I also love flowers and have a butterfly garden all around my house. And I love watching TV, especially “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS.” I’m also a comic book fan. I had a great collection, but when I went to college, my mom shared that collection with the neighborhood kids. I debate all the time about who’s superior, Batman or Superman or the X-Men. I once stopped at a flea market in Brown County and haggled with a woman for 20 minutes about the price for a Batman comic.
What was your first job?
Around age 12, I picked watermelons and worked at a fruit stand in Azalia.
What lessons did you learn from that job?
The first thing I learned was that most of the customers knew more about the product than I did. And I learned to enjoy the day, because I knew I was going to meet a lot of great people. And you learn that you want to be as honest with people as you can.
How did your leadership abilities develop?
I started teaching in 1975, and within a couple of years I coached middle school wrestling and football. I moved here in 1979 to teach English at Northside Middle School and coached the Columbus North High School wrestling team for 17 years.
What primary leadership lessons have you learned?
Be flexible and open-minded. Every year brings new challenges. The day that you think you know it all might be a day you’re not seeing very clearly. Also, make sure that you manage your time well and that you recognize your mission. Leadership also is about challenging people to do their best, much like the coach of a sports team. And leaders must realize that people place a lot of trust in you when they walk into your classroom, your office or your gym. They want to do their best, too.
Tell me about how experiences at home have influenced your philosophy and your work.
I meet a lot of people who need help, and I approach their situation as I would want someone else to approach it if I were the one who needed help. There’s no magic umbrella around any of us. When people look at rules and policies, they should make sure they do their best to help people. I learned this partially through personal experience. In June 1997, our daughter, April, was 18 when she got together with college friends. Alcohol was involved, and she slipped, fell several floors out of a window and died from her injuries a week later.
Also, the things you’re pretty good at working with. There’s no magic umbrella around any of us. When you’re looking at policies and rules you want to make sure you do the best to help folks, just as if you were helping your own child. That has given me personal insight into preventable tragedies, choices you wish people didn’t make and dealing with grief. That doesn’t mean everyone in a similar situation feels the same, but my family and I have a strong sense of what other families go through in a crisis. One of the simple, but important things I’ve learned is that everybody has a story. Everybody who steps into your life has a story — and a lot of potential.
What do you like best about your job?
I like working with the families, the different agencies in town because it lets me see how many people are trying to help others in this community. I work with very remarkable people, from Superintendent John Quick to Judge Stephen Heimann, but I’m truly amazed by the potential in our students. Almost every year, I hear about former students of mine who have published books. Others work at the Pentagon or in Hollywood, help the poor in Asia or work hard for their families. I still remember a paper Tony Stewart wrote in my seventh-grade class. He said he was going to be a race car driver. Kids from our community do great things. We just don’t always know about it.
What do you like least about your job?
That life is fragile, that families sometimes have to gather the strength to deal with the loss of a child or family member. That’s always the hardest part of working with others.
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