Rizzo, Moyer, Jefferson

Andrea Moyer (at right), director of school improvement, joins Superintendent Stan Jefferson (center) and Stephen Rizzo, chief academic officer, at a planning meeting in the superintendent’s office.

MANSFIELD -- When administrators were introduced at Mansfield City Schools’ staff convocation on Aug. 20 each got a warm round of applause, but the reaction to Andrea Moyer’s name was a loud and sustained ovation.

That caught the attention of keynote speaker Jim Tressel. As Tressel began his remarks, the former Ohio State University head football coach turned toward Superintendent Stan Jefferson – a member of Tressel’s Buckeye coaching staff from 2004 to 2011 -- and quipped, “Stan, I believe Andrea Moyer got a larger ovation than you did.”

Jefferson nodded in agreement and joined in the laughter.

The ovation for Moyer echoed the respect she has earned among her colleagues as a no-nonsense but caring, exemplary principal. It also validated her appointment this summer as the district’s director of school improvement, succeeding Martin Linder who took a job in Norwalk.

“I am humbled but ready to do all I can to help advance our district,” said Moyer, who is beginning her 34th year in Mansfield City Schools.

Stephen Rizzo, a veteran principal who now is the district’s chief academic officer, said Moyer’s experience and dedication are a perfect fit for her central office responsibilities.

“Andrea embodies all of the leadership qualities that we need and hope to see in our principals. She is an advocate for students and works to support staff on a daily basis,” Rizzo said. “I am very pleased to have her in this new role as we continue to drive toward greater academic achievement.”

A former fourth-grade teacher and longtime elementary school principal, she joins the Raemelton central office staff after nine years as principal of Malabar Intermediate School. Each year she welcomed a new group of fourth-graders by emphasizing the same three Malabar priorities: safety, academics, respect.

Public education has changed over Moyer’s career of more than three decades.

“There is more accountability and expectations for both students and staff,” she said. “There is a lot more emphasis on teaching. We have to incorporate strategies that will make learning fun for students and also meet academic levels.”

Moyer believes the modern-day roles of principals and assistant principals are a key element of school improvement.

“Building leaders also have to be instructional leaders. Their role has evolved; they are not just managers,” she said. “Building leaders must meet regularly with teachers and attend professional development sessions with them.

“They also must focus on the social and emotional needs of children. That’s a huge change since I first started in education. We now have ways to help those kids.

Moyer said she does a lot of reading, especially about childhood trauma.

"One of my goals is to ensure that principals are instructed about it and that childhood trauma is a topic for Building Leadership Teams and the District Leadership Team," she said. “Professional development is a key to helping our students be successful. I mean quality professional development and follow-up that moves into the classroom.

“It can’t be a one-shot deal. It must be ongoing. That’s why we have staff throughout the district who are trained coaches. They can help implement professional development initiatives in classrooms.”

The role of parents and guardians is a vital element in the success of students, just has it always has been, Moyer said.

“We need their support,” she said. “I understand that the way they learned has changed but we still need their support in overseeing homework and getting kids to school.

“It’s also part of our job to help parents with issues at home. We now have the tools to do that.”

From the day Moyer was named director of school improvement, she made it clear that she would be in the district’s schools more than in her office at Raemelton.

“I do miss the day-to-day contact with kids, although I see them as I am in and out of the buildings regularly,” she said. “When I am in the middle school and high school a lot of my former students recognize me and give me hugs. That means so much.”

Already embedded in her central office duties, Moyer offers a simple, one-sentence response to how she approaches her job:

“Whatever I can do, wherever I can be to help.”

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