The session also marked the administration transition that has been in the works since Superintendent Charles Koren announced his retirement several months ago. Koren oversaw the meeting with his successor Curtis Whitesel at his side at the board table; Whitesel was hired last month to take charge of the district Monday.
Board members commended their departing colleagues for their years of service, offered best wishes to Koren on his retirement and shared memories of his leadership by reciting some the oft-repeated nuggets of wisdom they called “Korenisms:”
“‘We’re just big people talking about little people problems,’” Dellafiora offered. “So when students and their education are put at the forefront, the district will thrive and the rest will fall into place. So if you take any wisdom from me or Dr. Koren, that should be it.”
“‘The only one who likes change is a baby that has to have its diaper changed,’” board member Vicki Smith, lamenting the change coming with Koren’s decision to leave.
“We have nine different personalities sitting on this board, but we all are here for the same reason, for the students,” director Jim McLoughlin said.
Koren’s philosophy always placed priority on the students, the board members said.
“‘Trust the process … and the will of the board,’” Hayes recalled.
“‘If I had a crystal ball,’ I’d know what it is going to be like without you, ‘But I don’t,’” Gerald Bertig said. He offered a second: “‘In a perfect world’ we’d have you for many more years to come, ‘But it’s not a perfect world.’”
Koren parted with what sounded to be another “ism.”
“Not one person does anything unique, many people can do things. We’re here for education,” he began, and left the district with praise for the staff based not on “homerism” but on comparison.
“I believe that after seeing many different places — because if you don’t see another place, you think your place is (superior) — and it depends on your personality and perception of reality, but after seeing many different places, we have caring educators. And that will be the core and foundation of our community education. That’s where I am proud to represent you as board members.”
Superintendent-elect Whitesel commented on the segue of district oversight, and told the board that Koren earlier Thursday took him on a tour of Homer City, Center Township and the educational landmarks of the area, sometimes hearing “Korenisms” of wisdom that he’ll remember as the district’s next administrator.
On exiting the board, Hayes told his colleagues that he wouldn’t be returning with his wife to their native Oklahoma because the planned sale of his house in Center Township had failed, something he attributed to divine purpose for keeping him in the Homer-Center community.
“We have a thankless business. But our rewards, I think, come to us in ways that we don’t even realize from our public service,” Dellafiora offered in his final thoughts. “Just keep that in mind. Giving back feels good, it’s good for us. And it’s been an honor and a privilege to be here.”
In the business session, the board voted to reschedule the business meeting next month for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 on a vote of 6 to 1. Dellafiora cast a tongue-in-cheek vote of opposition as his last official action as a director; Hayes abstained from the vote.
Smyers was absent.