As another school year beckons, the goal remains same

SALEM – Hot chocolate will still flow in Hank Brock’s office, Sean Kirkland will keep showing he cares and Dr. Joe Shivers will keep walking the halls at Salem Junior/Senior High School this fall.

Students may notice changes in their titles and offices and the addition of Todd McLaughlin to their ranks. But according to these administrators, that’s the only change students can expect when school opens Thursday.

There are no plans but to continue to build on what’s already been working, with lots of enthusiasm.

“The goal is to be the best in Columbiana County,” Shivers said.

Shivers is now the superintendent of the district, headquartered at the administrative building off of Cleveland Street. The previous eight years he served as high school principal, as middle school principal for a year and as director of curriculum and instruction and director of testing and personnel for four years.

A 1966 graduate of Salem High School, Shivers earned a bachelor’s degree from Baldwin Wallace College and then master’s degrees from both the Ohio State University and Harvard University. He earned a doctorate in education from Harvard.

Kirkland is the new high school/junior high principal. He has been an educator for 21 years, but had his first job in the district in maintenance. He taught for a year at Leetonia, then was hired as the industrial tech teacher at Salem High School. He also served previously as dean of students, assistant principal at the high school and the last eight years as junior high principal.

Kirkland graduated from Salem High School in 1986 and earned his bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and his master’s degree from Youngstown State University.

Brock is the new associate principal for the high school and junior high.

His career at Salem started in 2002 as a high school home ec teacher. He served as high school dean of students the past six years, overseeing discipline, in-school suspension and evaluating staff. He is also the district’s strength coach for all the athletic teams, certified as a strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He previously served as the assistant director of the Mahoning County Juvenile Justice Center.

A graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Brock earned his bachelor’s degree from YSU and his master’s degree from Walsh University, with post-graduate studies at Harvard.

McLaughlin is joining the district as the junior high dean of students and the district wide clerk of the works. He comes from West Branch schools where he served as a high school social studies teacher for three years. He previously taught for 10 years at Glen Oak High School in Canton for Plain Local Schools.

A 1997 Salem High School graduate, McLaughlin earned his bachelor’s degree at KSU and his master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.

Shivers said the district has two experienced administrators in Kirkland and Brock and McLaughlin coming in with enthusiasm and a love for Salem. He said parents can rest assured that “their children are in great hands for seven hours every day.”

He said they’ll keep them safe and educate them. He also said “we’ve got a lot going for us here.”

Repeating a quote he’s heard previously about teaching, Kirkland said, “Kids don’t care what you know until they know you care.”

“One of our strengths is we truly care about our kids, build relationships with them and help them along their path,” he said.

He is looking forward to the challenge of his new position.

Brock said students can expect “more of the same” from him. If a student’s having a bad day, they can come to his office and have some hot chocolate, cry a little if they need to and just talk. He’s accessible to the students.

But he also said he can tell if they’re just trying to cut class or get out of a test. Shivers said both Brock and Kirkland rule as much by their personalities and encouragement as they do by the occasional yelling.

McLaughlin said students can expect from him “a person wanting to help them get better, another set of ears to listen. I’ll help out in any way I can.”

Shivers said he wants to visit the different school buildings as much as he can and be visible. All acknowledged an open door policy for the students. He noted that things are much different than when he was in school, or Kirkland, or McLaughlin or even just eight years ago. If students cross the line with bullying, they can expect to become the focus of Shivers, Kirkland, Brock, and McLaughlin.

He said the trajectory for the district has been up and up every year and educators and administrators continue meeting the challenges.

Teachers will report for duty Tuesday, with open houses planned from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Buckeye, Reilly and Southeast elementary schools. The open house for the high school and junior high is 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“You succeed with good people – we have great people on the administration team and in the classrooms,” Shivers said.

Teachers new to the district will include high school English teacher Brooke Skiba, junior high intervention specialist Catherine Knowlden, art K-3 teacher Ashley Paulsen and Title I teacher at Buckeye Alison Haynes.