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St. Paul grad named new president

Cary Ashby • May 1, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Norwalk Catholic School (NCS) has chosen one of its to be the new president.

Martin A. Linder, a 1999 graduate of St. Paul High School, will start Aug. 1. He succeeds Dennis Doughty, who is retiring following a distinguished 43-year career in education, including the past five years as NCS president.

“Mr. Linder’s experience in rigorous, standards-based and differentiated curricula development, organizational strength in setting clear, consistent expectations, his focus on providing a safe school environment and proven innovative expertise will advance Norwalk Catholic School to address the needs of today and instill a vision into the future,” school officials said in a prepared statement.

Linder and his wife Diana have two children, Hazel and Andrew. For the next step in his career, Linder said since he is the father of “very young children,” it was a “no-brainer” to come back to the school where he was raised.

“I want them to have the experiences in the same community I had,” he added.

Linder rejoins the Norwalk Catholic School community with more than 16 years of academic experience in multiple and progressive teaching and administrative roles in Ohio school systems. Most recently, he was the director of school improvement for Mansfield City Schools.

“He’s a great learner,” said Doughty, who was the St. Paul principal when Linder was a student. “I’ve known Martin for a long time.”

While at St. Paul, Linder played left tackle for the Flyers football team for four years. He also was on the track team for three years and participated in mock trial, Model U.N. and choir.

Doughty said Linder learns from every experience he has and will be a “good, solid fit” at NCS, especially since he is familiar with the environment at the school.

Linder was one of 12 applicants interviewed during the first round. Patrick Schwan, the NCS governing board chairman, who organized the 10-member president succession team/search committee, said the school was blessed with getting “a lot of interest from a lot of highly qualified individuals” and the search eventually narrowed down to three impressive candidates.

During the third and final phase of the interview process, Linder and the two other applicants toured the school and were part of a meet-and-greet. Schwan said one of the things that impressed him about Linder was he was actively engaged with students and “chatted with them” during his tour of NCS and St. Paul.

“He has a great deal of leadership and communication skills,” Schwan added. “He is adept at (the) analysis of educational data, which can be used to train the staff and teachers,” which then can be shared with students to better prepare them for the future.

Linder began his career as a kindergarten teacher at NCS in 2003. He remained in that position until moving to Cloverleaf Local Schools in Lodi as an elementary school teacher. In 2010, Linder became the New London Elementary School principal.

Linder, in 2013, became a leader in the Ohio improvement process (OIP) for the Ohio Department of Education. He led a team of district and regional professionals improving classroom instructional curricula and directed an intra-district program for their communication, training and implementation.

“His expertise is in the improvement process,” said Doughty, who believes Linder has the skills to take NCS from being “a good school to an excellent school.” 

Leveraging his various experiences and skills gained during this three-year OIP role, Linder joined Mansfield City Schools in 2016, initially as the principal of Prospect Elementary School. He later became the director of school improvement. Doughty said school improvement means getting the teachers, students, board members and “all parties” involved in the process, which also includes evaluating and applying curriculum.

“The heart of it is collaboration,” Linder added.

Linder earned a bachelor of science degree in early childhood education from the University of Dayton. He majored in creating differentiated learning environments with a focus on student achievement. Linder earned a master’s degree in education administration from Ashland University, where his focus was in strategic planning and instructional leadership.

“While we welcome Martin Linder as our next president, we would like to thank Denny Doughty for his faithful dedication, passion, expertise and heartfelt commitment to the administration, faculty, parents, students and community throughout his tenure as president of NCS. His leadership has built a strong foundation upon which to continue evolving our great school,” school officials said.

Schwan said he’s grateful for Doughty’s dedication and time at the school. He added that Linder, with his “strong resume of educational experience,” roots in Catholic education and “great skill set,” will be able to improve what is already a good school.

“He’s very energized and ready to bring our school into the future of excellence,” Schwan said. “He’s excited; he can’t wait to get here.”

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