Gary Chapman

Fredericktown's incoming superintendent Gary Chapman thanks his family for their support, including his soon to be son in law Cole Bebout, Fredericktown '17 (left), daughter Sernia (middle left) and wife Mincie (right). 

FREDERICKTOWN – Fredericktown Local Schools’ incoming superintendent Gary Chapman said he feels as if he is Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz.”

“It’s so great to be home,” Chapman said.

Fredericktown’s school board approved Chapman Monday as the district's next superintendent. Chapman will start a three-year contract Aug. 1. He is currently the superintendent of Jonathan Alder Local School District in Plain City.

This will not be Chapman’s first time employed by Fredericktown Local Schools. He worked as Fredericktown High School principal from 2005 to 2009 but got his start with Fredericktown High School’s rival — Highland High School, where he had been a special education teacher and football coach. 

Chapman has also worked at nearby Mount Vernon City Schools — as high school assistant principal as well as the kindergarten through 12th grade director of teaching and learning. 

Most recently, Chapman has been superintendent of Jonathan Alder for more than 10 years, a position he will conclude July 31 before starting with Fredericktown. 

Chapman will receive a base annual salary from Fredericktown schools of $130,000 his first year, 2022-23, with a 2% increase each year after year one, according to his contract signed April 25. Therefore, in 2023-24, his base salary will be $132,600. In 2024-15, it will be $135,252. 

At Jonathan Alder, Chapman had an annual salary rate of $129,280, according to his July 2018 contract, also with a 2% increase annually starting August 2020.

Fredericktown's last superintendent Susan Hayward had an annual base salary of $117,000 her first year in 2019-2020; $119,340 in 2020-21; and $121,726.80 in 2021-22, according to her contract. Hayward's salary schedule was also based on an increase of 2% of the starting salary for year two and year three. 

Chapman has a bachelor’s of science in secondary education and teaching from Taylor University and a master of education, specifically in educational leadership and administration, from Ashland University. 

The district started with 24 candidates for superintendent, board president Paul Napier said. The board narrowed the candidate pool to two finalists — Chapman and Jonathan Muro, middle school principal in the Madison Local School District in Mansfield.

The community heard from both candidates earlier this month during a community meeting run by the Ohio School Boards Association, where community members were also tasked to submit feedback on the candidates to the board.

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After reading the community feedback forms and conversing among the board, the consensus was clear that Chapman should assume the role, Napier said.

“Some people have ‘it,’ ” Napier said. “He has ‘it.’ ”

During the community meeting, Chapman had a recurring response to several questions — stating he would need to gather more information through one-on-one conversations with students, staff and the community in order to make an informed decision.

When asked how he would balance the academic, social and emotional needs of students, for example, Chapman said he would first need some data.  

“That’s one of the things superintendents forget to do, especially when they’re talking to community groups or teacher groups, because we like to put out these nice big plans, these goals, objectives, strategic plans and all that — and the one thing they always seem to do is they forget about the kids,” Chapman said. 

Chapman has stayed true to this intention so far. He asked the board and administrators present if he can attend the district’s work day May 20 to listen and reconnect with staff, as well as observe the upcoming high school graduation ceremony. 

On Monday, Chapman brought and thanked his family for their support, including his wife Mincie and one of his three children, Sernia, as well as her fiancé Cole Bebout, who is a 2017 graduate of Fredericktown. Chapman said he is currently working to relocate his family to live in Fredericktown. 

“As you might expect, yes I am nervous, anxious, all those emotions that may come with this, but more so we are tremendously excited,” Chapman said, referring to himself and his family. “We are humbled, because this is truly a blessing.”

Chapman joked the board added a few more gray hairs to his head throughout the vetting process but that he was glad to have survived it. 

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Chapman said. “We’re going to roll our sleeves up and get out there.

"I can’t wait.”

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Emma Davis is a 2021 graduate of the University of Richmond, from which she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and leadership studies. Emma reports for Knox Pages and Ashland Source through Report for America.

Emma Davis is a 2021 graduate of the University of Richmond, from which she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and leadership studies. Emma reports for Knox Pages and Ashland Source through Report for America.