Note: This story appears in the Sunday, Sept. 1 newspaper on Page A1.
NELSONVILLE — Rick Edwards’ career in education has taken him all around Southeast Ohio, rising from the status of teacher all the way to superintendent.
He joined the Nelsonville-York City School District earlier this year as its business manager, working alongside erstwhile Supt. Mick McClelland. The latter had announced plans to retire in 2019, and Edwards was selected to fill the position of superintendent.
It’s a familiar role for Edwards, a Meigs County native, who has served as superintendent to several other districts in the area.
He began by teaching at Meigs Local School District, and taught physical education, science, special education and occupational work adjustment throughout his time there. He then moved to Warren Elementary School in Washington County where he was the assistant principal. After that came six years as principal of Eastern High School in Meigs County and seven years as superintendent of the Eastern Local School District. Most recently, he spent eight years as superintendent of the Athens-Meigs Educational Service Center, based in Chauncey.
He has a bachelors degree in education and science, from the University of Rio Grande; a master’s degree in classroom education, with special education; and post-masters work on education administration.
Edwards was hired at Nelsonville-York on a 3-year contract with a yearly salary of $125,000.
Among his major initiatives is being an accessible administrator — Edwards was headed to lunch following his interview with The Messenger to talk with students — and he aims to be “not just a position, but a person.”
“I’ve always been an engaged, involved administrator,” he said. “I’m not an office administrator — I’m at all of our home events, I’m active in the building every day. I think that’s something people here recognize: I’m visible.”
An early opportunity to showcase that was at the recent Parade of the Hills, in which the district had a float in the Grand Parade.
“We had staff walk, and had kids — it was really neat,” he said. “It’s getting our faces out in the community. That’s important to me.”
He said he brings his knowledge of best practices that he learned from working with nine districts over the past eight years to Nelsonville-York, and plans to utilize his network to aid the district’s growth.
“I bring my experience background to the table,” he said.
Edwards said one of the main attractions of Nelsonville-York City Schools is the years of tradition and heritage at the district.
“I came here because I’ve known a lot about the district and I’ve known a lot about the community,” he said. “It’s a district with a strong sense of community and community support, and there are a lot of rich traditions here that attracted me.”
He said his transition to be superintendent for the Buckeyes was made smoother by spending seven months working beside McClelland on district operations.
Now in charge himself, Edwards has a set of goals for the district known as “Buckeye Leaves” — improvements to students, academics, health and safety, finance, buildings and grounds, community communications and lastly personnel.
“The start of the school year for us has been amazing, it’s been really smooth,” he said. “We implemented a few new procedural things, and they’ve all worked out really well.”