The school board hired Brian Stitak as the Norwalk High School orchestra teacher on a one-year contract during Tuesday’s meeting. He had been at Port Clinton High School for 15 years.
“He’s coming to us from another district,” said Superintendent George Fisk, who noted the commute to Norwalk will be much easier for Stitak. “He’s very knowledgeable and a respected orchestra teacher.”
Stitak interviewed for the NHS job recently and informed administrators he would take it shortly before the board meeting.
Hiring Stitak “is very exciting news” for the recruiting team, Fisk said. Members of the team include: Principal Brad Cooley, music teachers and band directors Will Kish and Melissa d’Aliberti, middle school Principal Gary Swartz, music/chorus teacher Carol Mason and retired orchestra teacher Mark Parish.
“They’ve done a tremendous amount of work,” Fisk said.
Stitak, in his farewell letter to Port Clinton, said he didn’t make the decision to accept the NHS position easily.
“I consider Port Clinton to be home and it is with a heavy heart that I leave what has been my home for the past 15 years,” he wrote, noting that moving to Mansfield “is best for my family and me.”
Stitak encouraged his students to continue playing their instruments — and at the highest level possible — and also make their next orchestra teacher “feel welcome.”
“To students specifically, I understand that change is not an easy thing to accept. I have immensely enjoyed working with you all the years you have been in my program at PC and consider it an honor to have been your teacher. We have had great moments in class, on stage and in life,” he wrote.
In a move for Norwalk personnel, the school board accepted Mason’s June 1 retirement and rehired her as a NHS music/chorus teacher for the 2019-2020 school year.
“Mrs. Mason is an amazing instructor. I would keep her as long as she wants to be here,” Fisk told board members.
Also, the board rehired Mollie Wetherill on one-year contract to be the Ernsthausen Performing Arts Center coordinator effective July 1 of this year through June 30, 2020.
“Mollie does an awesome job keeping this facility up and running,” Fisk said. “She has done this for a number of years.”
In another personnel move, the superintendent requested the board allow him to look for, and hire, two additional English language learner (ELL)/English as a second language (ESL) aides.
With the tremendous increase in students with “zero English-speaking skills” and/or special needs who have difficulty communicating, Fisk said having two more ELL/ESL aides will provide better coverage for all the school buildings. He noted many of the students speak Spanish.
The board approved the superintendent to start the search.
In other action, the board:
• Accepted three scholarship donations: Nearly $48,7000 from the district endowment fund, $5,000 from Underground Utilities and finally, a $1,000 anonymous donation to the Tom Phillips Theatre Scholarship.
• Allowed Norwalk Catholic/St. Paul High schools to remove and replace a storage shed at Whitney Field with a similar structure on a concrete pad. Fisk said Kelly Ross, the district director of support services, has been in contact with St. Paul athletic director John Livengood to make sure the city permits and processes are being handled properly.