Longtime educator, administrator, board member ending career

LEETONIA- When the calendar turns over next week, Leetonia school board member John Rydarowicz will end over 40 years in official capacity in the school district.

Starting as a chemistry and physics teacher in 1971, Rydarowicz retired in 2003 after two and a half years as high school principal. He also served 21 years as athletic director in addition to advisor to the senior and junior classes.

He has served two terms on the school board, but failed to gain re-election in November.

A Hubbard native and Ursuline graduate, Rydarowicz said he made Leetonia his home after nearly 10 years in education because of the community and people, particularly the students and their enthusiasm for what he was teaching.

“I loved chemistry and I loved the way the kids put themselves into what I was teaching,” he explained. “They responded to it, absorbed it and achieved. I’ve had really great kids who went on to do great things (worldwide).”

And the job wasn’t just within school hours, either, Rydarowicz said, describing at least one occasion where students went to his house for advice on school work.

“One Sunday several years ago I heard a knock (while working with his son in the garage), looked out the window and saw two faces,” he said. “When I went outside, the whole chemistry class was there. They were having trouble with a report due Monday and wanted help. I guided them through the work for maybe one and a half, two hours.

“It was definitely a 24/7 job.”

While on the school board, Rydarowicz served as the student achievement liaison, continuing his devotion to the students that guided him through his career.

“I’ll always miss being in the classroom, where you’re most effective,” he said. “Contact with the students is what I miss the most.”

Stepping away from the guidance of the district, Rydarowicz said he is pleased with its direction under the watch of Superintendent Rob Mehno and Treasurer Jennifer Coldsnow.

“[Rob Mehno] is the one that really turned the financial status of the school around,” he said. “We had already finished out interviews (for the superintendent position in 2009) when [former head football coach] Artie Altomare suggested we give him a shot.

“Now we have a good captain at the helm.”

Rydarowicz also praised Coldsnow, noting that she is dedicated to the district.

“She’s there for the school, it’s not just a job,” he said.

But his time at the school is not all over just yet. Rydarowicz said he will continue to stay active in the district in a volunteer capacity.

“You don’t walk away from that many years,” he said.