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Leetonia Schools Superintendent selected for education task force

Leetonia Schools Superintendent Rob Mehno (Salem News photo by Kevin Howell)

LEETONIA-A local school superintendent is helping shape the future of education in Ohio.

Rob Mehno, superintendent of Leetonia Schools, has been appointed to the Graduation Requirements and High School Redesign Task Force. State board member Mark Lamoncha, president of Humtown Products in Columbiana, made the recommendation to add Mehno to the task force.

Graduation requirements have been changed beginning with the Class of 2023 and the task force is working to clarify the new requirements and discussing the redesign of high school curriculum to incorporate them. The task for meets once a month.

“It’s an honor to serve on the task force, to have a hand in shaping the future of education in Ohio after being an educator for over 31 years,” Mehno said. “To be able to fine-tune and be a part of the change process is exciting.”

Leetonia Schools has been at the forefront of integrating manufacturing education into the high school curriculum, establishing a manufacturing academy, in addition to a robotics program, which places students into workplaces for first-hand experience upon graduation.

Students in Christy Temple's first-grade class will see a vastly different high school education when the students get older since the state of Ohio is altering its graduation requirements and redesigning high school curriculum in the coming years. (Salem News photo by Kevin Howell)

Lamoncha said Mehno’s role in the manufacturing curriculum is why he wanted him on the task force.

“[Mehno] is building a manufacturing academy to bridge between manufacturing and the schools. There is a great need to expose the group of students that do not choose to go to the career center to another opportunity to be exposed to the possibility of working in local participating factories under a new program that was approved called Certified Production Technician,” he said. “I am encouraged by [Mehno]’s passion and excitement to work with Pennex and Humtown Products to get this program initiated in our county.”

In his recommendation letter, Lamoncha said Mehno “is very innovative and forward thinking” and “passionate about the positive relationships and academic rigor necessary to ensure success for all students.”

Lamoncha also noted Mehno has “implemented family school liaisons and is developing programs to increase support staff to work in conjunction with the school counselors to have wider coverage in effectively helping young adults with life events that interfere with learning. [Mehno] is dedicated to confront academic and non academic barriers. He is highly engaged with local manufacturing companies and passionate about engaging students.”

According to information provided by Mehno, the task force will provide feedback and inform the development of resources and supports related to the implementation of the newly passed graduation requirements, and lead the development of a set of recommendations to promote high school redesign across the state.

The new requirements include course work (21 credits at Leetonia), demonstration of competency and demonstration of readiness. The demonstration of competency requires meeting two of four benchmarks- state tests, military enlistment, college credit plus participation and career readiness. The demonstration of readiness requires earning two of 12 possible diploma seals defined by the state and local districts. The seals include OhioMeansJobs Readiness, Biliteracy, Industry-Recognized Credential, College-Ready, Military Enlistment, Science, Honors Diploma, Technology, Citizenship, Fine and Performing Arts (local), Student Engagement (local) and Community Service (local).

Mehno said the task force will look at the requirements to earn each seal and discuss the local ones to help define what they entail, then work with key stakeholders in education across the state to identify models and attributes of successful high schools. The redesign stage will require research and information gathering, developing a framework of attributes of an “engaging and inspiring” high school and developing recommendations and actions.

With the Leetonia school district already transforming its curriculum to provide new and unique pathways to graduation, Mehno said he is ready to share his experience.

“A lot of [what the task force is doing] has been what we do her at Leetonia-integrating businesses, government and the district,” he said. “I believe we have done it successfully and will be able to share what we have done, as well as learn from others.”

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