By Kevin Kelley
Geoffrey Andrews, selected last week as the next superintendent of the Fairview Park City Schools, was the only candidate interviewed by the Fairview Board of Education.
The board reviewed applications and resumes of 35 candidates in a search process that was assisted by the Ohio School Boards Association. The district paid the OSBA $6,900 for its assistance.
Andrews, currently the director of the Western Academy of Beijing, in China, was the first applicant interviewed due to his travel schedule. Board members were so impressed by him that they offered him the position.
“He was far and away the perfect candidate for Fairview Park,” board of education President Joe Shucofsky told West Life.
Andrews, who led the Oberlin City Schools from 2006 to 2011, was a finalist for the superintendent’s job in the Kenston school district, and a candidate for others, as he was looking to move back to Ohio. Board members concluded that if they wanted Andrews, they would have to act quickly, Shucofsky said.
Specifically, Shucofsky said Andrews fit all of the following criteria the board had set in selecting a superintendent:
• strength in implementing technology in academic instruction
• curriculum expertise
• involvement in the community
• excellent communication skills
“He excelled in each of those areas in a way that no other candidate did,” Shucofsky said.
Shucofsky said that, in an ideal world, the board would have also interviewed a handful of other candidates. However, the board president said it would have been “a huge mistake” if the district had interviewed others but lost Andrews to another district.
Board member Katie Davis agreed that Andrews made a strong impression during the interview.
“He really kind of blew us away,” she told West Life, adding that he answered the board’s challenging questions in a convincing manner.
During Andrews’ five years as Oberlin’s superintendent, that district went from being under academic watch to receiving ratings on the state’s school district report card fo “Excellent.” The Oberlin City Schools became the first in the state to be accepted into the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme across the K-12 level.
“The standards he has for academics are very high,” Davis said.
A native of Oberlin, Andrews graduated from Dartmouth College, where he majored in mathematics and economics. He later earned a master’s degree in computer science from Villanova University. He completed coursework necessary for state licensing as an education administrator at Ashland University, where he has served as an adjunct professor.
Andrews previously was the technology director for Chagrin Falls Schools from 1991 to 1995 and spent 10 years at Polaris Career Center, serving as assistant superintendent there from 2004 to 2006.
Davis said the board believes Andrews can build upon the district’s focus on using technology in the classroom. The Fairview City Schools introduced its one-to-one computer initiative, in which students receive a netbook computer, in 2010. Currently, students in grades five through 12 have netbooks, with those in grades seven and above allowed to take them home.
“I think Geoff can take us to the next level,” Davis said. “And that seems to be what the students are wanting.”
Davis also noted Andrews’ time at Polaris Career Center, the Middleburg Heights institution at which Fairview High School juniors and seniors can take courses. Andrews’ experience there fits well with the district’s goal of preparing students for either college or technical careers, Davis said.
Andrews’ three-year contract with the district will begin Aug. 1, the day after the current superintendent, Brion Deitsch, retires.
In an April 9 letter to the Fairview Park community, Andrews said he was “delighted, honored, and profoundly humbled that the Board has put their trust in me to lead this remarkable school district.”
“As I begin my service in Fairview Park later this summer, I look forward to learning from and getting to know all of the constituencies in the community,” Andrews said in the letter. “Regardless of your role in town, I would like to hear from you – I will be out in the city, and my door will be open should you come to see me.”