Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cardinal Superintendent Retires
February 27, 2013 by Ann Wishart | No Comments

Paul Yocum’s last few hours as Cardinal Schools’ superintendent tops off more than 40 years in the field of education.

Paul Yocum’s last few hours as Cardinal Schools’ superintendent tops off more than 40 years in the field of education.

Despite the funding difficulties the district is facing, Yocum, 66, said he has had good experiences and is leaving with plenty of good memories in his briefcase.

“It’s been enjoyable,” he said during an interview last week. “We try to meet the challenges, but it’s the people I’ve worked with who have made it nice to come to work.”

Those are the people who will hold the fort until another superintendent is chosen by the board of education.

Middle school Principal Jim Millet will be the go-to guy on site and Matt Galemmo, superintendent of the Geauga County Educational Service Center, will pinch hit for the administration, Yocum said.

Since his announcement last year that he will retire Feb. 28, Yocum and the school board have been putting the tem-porary arrangements in place.

He said he plans to relax a bit and spend time with his 10 grandchildren, some of whom live in Montana.

But he is keeping his options open by recently renewing his superintendent’s license, he said.

“I’m not looking for a job,” Yocum added.

His next agenda — projects needing attention at his Champion home — will keep him busy for a while.

“I need to get organized at home,” he said.

His resume tracks him from Howland to Sandusky to Champion Schools over the last four decades where he taught a range of science and math as well as coached varsity baseball, cross country, JV football and track teams, Yocum said.

He took a four-year hiatus from the education field to work as a purchasing agent for a lumber company.

“I got back into education because I missed the contact with the kids,” he said.

Serving as superintendent has taken him away from the classroom and the locker room, but he has made an effort to interact with students at Cardinal, when possible.

“The kids at Cardinal are very respectful. They always have been,” Yocum said.

His concern for the students has made it painful to cut programs and staff to meet financial obligations, he said.

Maintaining the quality of education has been an ongoing challenge.

Mandates and uncertain state funding confronted the administration and the board for the last several years, Yocum said.

Following the shooting at Chardon Schools a year ago, the district has another front it must secure.

“Recently, the emphasis has been on school security,” Yocum said, adding the drug culture knows no economic boundaries either.

Other issues the district faces include a drop off in student population.

Yocum cited the fact the community is not growing and the districts are seeing more students take advantage of the opportunity to choose what school they want to attend.

Cuts in art, music and advanced placement programs have been painful, he said, adding students without those kinds of opportunities are not as competitive when it comes to college choices and/or careers.

“People have to make a choice. They need to think of the kids’ future preparation,” Yocum said.

His seven years at Cardinal has yielded some firm friendships among staff and board members, a camaraderie that will mark this period in his life.

He recalls longtime board president Dick Moss who knew everyone’s job, but never interfered.

“He always said ‘What can I do for you?’” Yocum said. “That’s one of my fonder memories.”

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