President Mark Smith Sworn in to Ohio State Board of Education

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy with OCU President Dr. Mark A. Smith

Dr. Mark Smith, president of Ohio Christian University, was one of 11 new members sworn in at the State Board of Education's regular meeting Monday in Columbus. He will serve as an at-large member through 2016 after being appointed by Gov. John Kasich on Jan. 11.

"I'm very humbled and honored to be able to serve with fellow educators, but more importantly to serve the students of our state," Smith said. "I believe Ohio can be number one leading education, and I want to do everything I can to impact and effect change in making us number one."

In addition to the board position, Smith also will serve on the Capacity Committee, which he describes as overseeing teachers and licensures as well as the capacity of Ohio's educational systems. "It looks at new ways of doing business in education, like working with charter schools and alternative teacher licensure programs," he said.

His focus, though, will always remain on the students, Smith said.

"How do we improve learning for the students and make learning once again an excellent opportunity for growth and enjoyable for our students?" he said. "How do we move them forward in their knowledge but also in their ability to apply that material and use it in a highly-advanced technology age?"

Smith said another emphasis for the board must be to use technology to provide cost savings for Ohio's education system.

"That's one of the huge opportunities in our state, to learn how to be entrepreneurial and connect business, jobs and economic growth with education," Smith said. "Those are the things I want to work with. I look forward to being part of the team."

Ty Ankrom, superintendent of the Pickaway County Educational Service Center, said he cannot recall another Pickaway County resident serving on the state board, at least during his 38 years in education.

"I think it will be good to have a local voice on the board," Ankrom said. "I think Mark understands the problems and issues we're facing in education locally and can represent those at the state level for us."

The Ohio Board of Education is made up of 19 board members, 11 of whom are elected and eight appointed by the governor.

Debe Terhar was unanimously re-elected as board president during the opening session of January's board meeting held Monday, and Tom Gunlock was unanimously re-elected as vice president.

Eleven BOE members were sworn in by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy at Monday's meeting. In addition to Smith, new board members include Sarah Fowler of Rock Creek, elected to represent the seventh district in northeast Ohio; Stephanie Dodd of Hebron, elected from the ninth district representing parts of central Ohio; and at-large member Darryl Mehaffie from Greenville, also appointed to the board by Gov. Kasich.

Sworn in for second terms were Ann Jacobs (District 1); Bryan Williams (District 5); Michael Collins (District 6); Jeff Hardin (District 10); Mary Rose Oakar, (District 11); and at-large members T. Bennett of East Cleveland and C. Todd Jones of New Albany.

“We are pleased to have new board members and experienced board members sworn in today,” said Terhar. “I am confident that this board has the best interest of Ohio’s students at heart and will serve them well.”

At the board meeting, Terhar also created an Accountability Committee that will provide policy direction to the Ohio Department of Education in implementing Am. Sub. H.B. 555 (signed into law Dec. 20, 2012). The law creates a new academic performance rating system for public schools; requires an alternative rating system for community schools with dropout prevention and recovery programs; and creates a new evaluation process for community school sponsors.

The committee met for the first time Tuesday immediately following the business meeting of the board at the Ohio School for the Deaf.

by Trish Bennett, Editor for the Circleville Herald