Area superintendent chosen to be 2015-16 Leader-in-Residence

stephanie-starcherDr. Stephanie Starcher ’96 credits the McDonough Leadership Program with enhancing her own management skills.

Now she is looking forward to sharing her own experiences as a teacher and public school administrator with Marietta College’s students as the 2015-16 Schwartz Leader-in-Residence.

“I am grateful that I have the opportunity to give back to the program that helped shape my own leadership skills and mindsets,” said Starcher, who is an alumna of the Education Department and the McDonough Leadership Program (Cohort 6). “I am a practicing educator who is extremely passionate about ensuring that all students receive quality educational services, and I hope to share this passion with those involved in the program.” 

Dr. Gama Perruci, Dean of McDonough, is excited to build on the success of this year’s LIR project with Kathleen Reddy-Smith and the Political Science Department.

“I think next year’s LIR will be a powerful experience for the Education students,” Perruci said. “I really like how Dr. Starcher will help students deal with real-world issues and apply them to the current challenges in Ohio. The project participants will be exposed to the latest leadership concepts and ideas in the Education field. This will be an incredibly valuable experience for our future teacher leaders.”

Starcher, Superintendent for Fort Frye Local Schools, has served as an elementary teacher and principal, as well as an adjunct professor for several colleges and universities. In 2001, Walmart recognized her as a Teacher of the Year.

“Throughout her educational career she has challenged her students and her faculty and staff to become the best they can be,” said Dr. Bill Bauer, McCoy Professor of Education. “Results of her hard work are noticed and documented throughout her illustrious career as a passionate, knowledgeable and caring educator. The McDonough Leadership program is lucky to have Dr. Starcher charging a group of future leaders to develop a sense of understanding of critical issues in the education domain locally, statewide and nationally.”  

As Leader-In-Residence, Starcher will help students identify some of Ohio’s critical issues in education that are associated with such unprecedented change, which may include, but are not limited to, school finance, standardized testing, curriculum standards, teacher evaluation, pre-service teacher preparation requirements, and school choice. As part of the project, students will investigate the historical and political development of specific critical issues in education and the related state policies and laws. 

Each student will be connected with a practicing teacher and administrator who can share perspectives on the critical issues from the field. In the spring of 2016, the students will use knowledge gained from their research and conversations with practitioners to make educational policy recommendations to state legislators and/or lobbyists.

“Although the focus of this project is educational issues within Ohio, these educational topics are relevant nationally and the skill sets gained are applicable to other political and policy making venues,” Perruci said.

The Schwartz Leader-In-Residence Program, named in honor of Dr. Stephen W. Schwartz (1940-2006), the longtime dean of the McDonough Center, is designed to infuse leadership across the Marietta College campus. The McDonough Center works collaboratively with a department to bring to campus an outstanding leader in the department’s academic area of interest. During the academic year, the Schwartz LIR works with the department faculty to develop and implement a project that enhances the leadership knowledge and skills of the participants. The project is open to students in the department, based on selection criteria established by the department chair in close consultation with the Schwartz LIR.

Starcher obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education at Marietta College. She then earned a graduate degree as a reading specialist from Marshall University and later completed her doctoral studies in education administration at Ohio University. She currently resides with her husband and two daughters in Belpre, Ohio. 

“Students will research scholarly literary works and interview practicing administrators and teachers to gain deeper insight into these critical issues,” Starcher said. “With my guidance, students will develop written briefs and presentations to share with state lawmakers and/or lobbyists in regard to best practices surrounding the critical issues.”

Dr. Dottie Erb, Chair of Marietta’s Education Department, said Starcher epitomizes the mission of the College’s teacher education program, which is to prepare teacher leaders.

“From her initial years as a classroom teacher to her current position as superintendent, she has been instrumental as a change agent in her classroom, school, and district,” Erb said. “We are excited about having her as a role model for our current education students. I am looking forward to her leadership in assisting our students as they develop a voice in addressing current issues in K-12 education.”