'5 Questions With' Dr. Andrew Hill, Superintendent of Wadsworth City School District
1. Wadsworth City Schools was able to successfully offer 5-day a week, in-person learning with an online option for all but two weeks of the 2020-21 school year where nearly 80% of your students attended in-person. How were you able to accomplish such an amazing feat when so many other districts in the state and across the country could not?
It was a matter of people working together as a team, including the Board of Education, our employees, our local health department and our community. It took a team effort to plan and implement that plan. We had an advisory committee of approximately 125 people who also assisted. Half of those were employees and the other half were interested members of our community.
2. What were the toughest challenges the District faced over these last 14 months?
The unknown and our ability to react to it was our biggest challenge. The ever-fluid nature of the situation required planning and then changing that plan to address a seemingly ever-moving target. Getting people to buy in and be patient was a part of that challenge. Finances at first was also a large concern.
3. Wadsworth City Schools appears to have a depth of involvement by the community with strong ties to the District. How significant is this fact to a successful public school district?
It’s absolutely critical. I have never been in a place like Wadsworth. It’s simply not the norm when it comes to the relationship we have with our community and the support we get from our community. The schools and the community are engrained in supporting each other. This allows us to offer our students so many enhanced opportunities and achieve the levels of success that we have.
4. You have been recognized by your Board, your staff and the community for a number of things, especially your ability to communicate. What are the keys to strong communication, and why is that so important to your District’s success?
Success in a public education setting relies on support and buy-in from the community. In order to achieve that buy-in, a district must be fully transparent and communicate. We would rather write our own story, than react to someone else’s version of the story.
5. Post-pandemic, what do you see to be the biggest challenges facing your District and other public school districts in Ohio?
Defining when the “post-pandemic” happens will be one of our biggest challenges. As districts try and plan for a return to normalcy, not all constituents will be ready to do so. It will be a challenge we must face to make adjustments back to a normal state of operations.