A former local superintendent is settling into her job with Ohio Department of Education.
Laura Keller, who led the Old Fort Local School District for four and a half years, now is Race to the Top's regional coordinator for northwest Ohio.
"Seneca County is included," she said.
Keller, one of six regional coordinators in Ohio, started her new job Jan. 3 and participated in several days of training in Columbus. Participants learned about where they are headed in the future, technology, human resources and what ODE expects of its employees, she said.
"It was a long week, but it was a very eventful week," she said.
Keller, who is working in Bowling Green, said she has been busy trying to learn everything and has been enjoying the job.
"We have a great team of people," she said.
Race to the Top is a program bringing federal stimulus money to schools.
Keller said she thinks it is centered on strategic education reform initiatives that will help improve schools, close the achievement gap and increase graduation rates.
The focus is on achieving five goals over the course
of four years, she said.
The goals are to increase the high school school graduation rate by 0.5 percent each year; reduce graduation gaps by 50 percent; and reduce performance gaps by 50 percent. The program also seeks to reduce the gap between Ohio and the best-performing states in the country by 50 percent.
"Ohio's done very well, but they still want to perform as one of the best states in our country," she said.
Finally, Race to the Top seeks to more than double the college enrollment of 18- and 19-year-olds.
"We just need to educate our kids so that they can compete in the world they're growing into," she said.
Keller said she has been working on a letter to be sent to superintendents and has been looking at each school's scope of work and budget.
Also, the project is going to be hiring some Race to the Top regional specialists.
"I've been working on interview questions," she said.
Keller said her job responsibilities eventually will be to monitor progress for school districts and local education agencies that signed up for Race to the Top work. She said officials also will monitor their budgets as they start to spend money and begin initiatives that are outlined in their scopes of work.
Keller has worked in education for 38 years and has been a teacher, counselor, assistant principal, principal and superintendent.
"She has provided outstanding leadership as our superintendent," Holly Stacy, who now serves as president of the Old Fort Local Board of Education, said when Keller stepped down.
Old Fort's school board has appointed Jude Meyers, who had served as the assistant principal and athletic
director, as the interim superintendent.