The West Geauga Board of Education made several administrative changes last week with the hiring of a new high school principal and creation of two new positions.

The board approved the administrative shift for Sean Whelan, former director of technology and operations, as the new director of technology and online curriculum coordinator at the annual salary of $112,352. The board also approved shifting former West Geauga High School Principal Jay Bishop to the new position of director of operations and capital improvements at the annual salary of $114,522.

District Treasurer Karen Penler Pavlat explained that Mr. Whelan and Mr. Bishop moved to their new positions at their current salaries and that the board has not yet voted on any administrative salary increases for the 2021-2022 school year.

“Due to increasing needs in certain elements of operations and technology in the district, we’ve made some administrative shifts,” Superintendent Richard Markwardt said during the June 28 meeting.

“As the pandemic ends, West Geauga will revisit the Facilities Master Plan that was put on hold due to COVID-19 and its many effects on our schools. Now, with an anticipated return to more normal operations, we must revisit that plan with the goal of enhancing our current operations and planning for future building needs,” Dr. Markwardt later explained in a June 29 statement to the district. “These tasks will fall under the responsibilities of Jay Bishop as West Geauga director of operations and capital improvements. Jay’s former responsibilities as a high school industrial arts teacher and high school principal position him well to manage current district operations and assess future needs.”

He added that changes in education due to the coronavirus pandemic “underscored the important and increasing role of technology in the delivery of educational services and the operation and security of our schools, grounds and vehicles.

“Evidence of the increased role of educational technology will manifest itself in a wide array of areas this year; it will include the establishment of a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) model at WGHS that will evolve into a K-12 program within the next few years,” he continued. “As a former West G teacher and director of technology and operations, Sean Whelan has a background and knowledge bank that qualify him for this new role of director of technology and coordinator of online curriculum.”

As a result of these shifts, the position of high school principal was ultimately open and filled by a district alum, Ryan Patti, who the board approved at a salary of $120,000, according to the resolution.

Mr. Patti, a 2002 graduate of West Geauga High School, comes to the district from Beachwood High School, where he was assistant principal.

Dr. Markwardt said during the meeting that he hired Mr. Patti as an administrator at Beachwood in 2013 when he was superintendent for the city school district. “I’ve seen him work with students, I’ve seen him work with staff, I’ve seen him do so very effectively,” he said.

Mr. Patti received his undergraduate degree from Ohio University as well as his master’s and is currently working toward his doctorate.

“In some ways this is a homecoming for Ryan,” Dr. Markwardt added.

The board previously eliminated the role of director of public relations and development, which Jim Kish held, who is now transitioning to the role of principal at Westwood Elementary School. He takes the place of former Westwood Principal Deborah Nanney, who resigned to accept a new position with the Educational Service Center of the Western Reserve. Mr. Kish will fulfill this role at his current salary of $102,507.

Dr. Markwardt explained that Mr. Kish’s position as director of public relations “was designed partially to facilitate the transition of former Newbury students to West Geauga.”

The board also approved the hiring of several new certified staff members.

Director of Pupil Personnel Amy Davis introduced the district’s intervention specialist Gabrielle Gannon for Lindsey Elementary School.

“She comes to us with a degree in general education and special education, so dual certifications, which is wonderful,” Ms. Davis said. “She is clearly very diligent, she was on the dean’s list for four straight years at the University of Mount Union, and she’s working on a master’s [degree] already and a reading endorsement.”

Mr. Bishop introduced two new high school teachers, Nicole Grys for mathematics and Nathaniel Prijatel for science.

“[Mrs. Grys] joins us from Willoughby South High School, where she taught for seven years. I know she also has experience teaching at the middle school level,” Mr. Bishop said. “Prior to beginning her teaching experience, she graduated from John Carroll University with a bachelor’s degree in teaching mathematics. Nicole is currently pursuing her Master of Arts degree in math for secondary teachers from John Carroll University. While at Willoughby South, she was a member of the PBIS committee and served as the girls varsity soccer coach.”

Mr. Prijatel will be joining the high school science department after receiving his Bachelor of Science from the Ohio State University and a Master of Education in school-based education from John Carroll University, Mr. Bishop said.

“He’s a graduate of Lake Catholic High School,” he added, “[and] began his teaching career during COVID, where he student-taught and filled a long-term position for a teacher who was out on maternity leave.”

The board also approved the hiring of high school educational aide Sarah Hosah.

“Sarah Hosah joins us from the Cleveland [City] School District,” Ms. Davis said. She previously worked for the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio and “has a vast amount of experience with students with multiple challenges,” she added. “So we’re delighted to welcome her to the high school.”

Sam joined the Times in 2019 and covers several communities and schools in the Chagrin Valley and Geauga County. She also oversees the features/community events and the website. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.

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