The Tecumseh Local School District Board of Education (BOE) received a facelift in January when newly-elected members, Johanna Brents, Sue Anne Martin, and Suzanne Slagell stepped in to fill the vacancies left by Mert Christmann, Kurt Lewis, and longtime BOE member, Dan Studebaker. The new BOE members took time to tell the New Carlisle News a little more about themselves and their goals for the Tecumseh Local School District (TLSD).

Johanna Brents
Johanna Brents
Johanna Brents

Johanna Brents and her husband, Ryan, have lived in the TLSD for nearly 19 years and are currently raising their sons, Lane, Josh, and Cole near Donnelsville. All three boys attend TLSD schools and are involved in a variety of sports. Brents says the family twice relocated from the local area before quickly returning,“(We) realized this was home and ultimately where we were meant to be and where we were meant to raise our boys.”

Formerly a stay-at-home mom, and now a bus driver for the district, Brents says she has spent a lot of time volunteering within the TLSD and is passionate about mentoring and helping others.

“I was involved as a volunteer in the boys’ classrooms throughout their earlier school years, and was active with the Medway PTO prior to the school’s closure. I continue to volunteer and help out whenever needed. I am an active member of Arrows Parent Nation. (...) I am passionate about the successes and happiness of (those) around me. I see enormous value in inspiring others to see their worth and potential. (...) I love training and mentoring, then sitting back and witnessing the ultimate successes of others.”

Brents says she was inspired to run for the BOE because of the encouragement she received from others and because of her personal commitment and investment in the district and community. Brents also feels her diverse background gives her a unique perspective that will serve her well as she begins her BOE term.

“I want to be instrumental in helping lead positive, lasting change for (each) and every one of us who share in the tradition of being a Tecumseh Arrow and for those to come...As a member of the BOE, I plan to do my part and promote nothing short of the utmost positivity, integrity, and professionalism to inspire greatness in all of us.”

Brents says although she currently cannot identify all the areas where change is needed in the district, she strongly believes the success of the TLSD is directly tied to its transparency, as well as the methods the district uses in its leadership, communications, and staff training.

“Our leadership needs to be hands on, present, communicative, and (must) follow through with the staff. We have to (remain) diligent in setting goals, and following up on important issues. (We should) promote responsibility and accountability for everyone (and) inspire personal and departmental growth.(...) I also believe we need to provide more training to staff (to) ensure that they are fully equipped (to) respond to any issue that may arise at any time. (...) I believe those who came before us have done a great job building a strong foundation for which we can only improve upon. (...) I have no doubt that those of us (elected) to be a part of leading this district will only prevail in being strong advocates for our students, our district, and community.”

Sue Anne Martin
Sue Anne Martin
Sue Anne Martin

Sue Anne Martin is an alumna of Tecumseh H.S. and, after living in Beavercreek and Oakwood, she returned to the community 10 years ago to be closer to her family and friends. “I love being a part of our community--even with our quirks and problems,” comments Martin, “Our community is a great place. We stand together, we raise good kids, and we support each other as we look forward.”

Martin is very involved in the lives of her nieces, Hannah and Delaney, both of whom have studied in the TLSD. “I firmly believe that being an aunt is the most rewarding and important job I have in this world. I am exceptionally proud of both of my nieces,” says Martin.

Martin has spent a lifetime giving back to her communities. Taking a seat on the Tecumseh BOE further reinforces an upbringing that encouraged her to “give back in the way her talents lead her to serve.” Martin is currently the president of the New Carlisle Optimist Club, the Race Chairperson for the annual Heritage of Flight 5K, and is a member of the New Carlisle Public Library’s Board of Trustees.

Martin’s decision to run for Tecumseh’s BOE was not made hastily, and she takes her new responsibility to Tecumseh’s students and community very seriously.

“...Education is so important in my mind, not just book smarts, but life smarts. Equipping our young people with the best opportunities we can afford them is a large responsibility,” Martin further states that helping the district meet its goals will require transparency, good communication, and the development and implementation of a strategic plan for the TLSD--one of her highest priorities. “(It) is imperative in that process that we communicate throughout the planning and implementation process with all stakeholders in our community,” she says.

At the end of the day, Martin says it all comes down to caring for the children.

“It’s cliché to say, ‘Our children are our future,’ but at the same time it is insanely true. If we want a good future, I believe we need to do all that we can now to help our young people by modeling those behaviors we want to see - kindness, passion, involvement, compromise, and seeing how our individual actions can make a difference to others.”

Suzanne Slagell
Suzanne Slagell
Suzanne Slagell

Suzanne Slagell is a second generation Tecumseh H.S. alumna, and was lived in the local community for virtually her entire life. She and her husband of 19 years live in the Medway area where they raise their children: Ben (16), Maggie (13), Brenden (10), Raniah (8), and Miracle (4). The couple are also licensed foster parents with Clark County FCS. They are passionate about both caring for hurting kids and reuniting them successfully with their families.

Slagell spends much of her time volunteering and serving others. As a parent, she has volunteered in many different areas in the schools; including the Medway PTO, Reading Buddies at Park Layne, and the Summer Food Program. She has frequently worked with high school students during her 15 years in church leadership. She also volunteers weekly with the Bethel Churches United Food Pantry.

Slagell says the opportunity to run for a spot on Tecumseh’s BOE came at “exactly the right time” for her. She is excited to be a part of such a unique situation where the district will have a new Superintendent, Treasurer, and three new BOE members before the start of the next school year. A situation, Slagell says, that offers an opportunity for the district to “re-evaluate everything and come at problems with a fresh outlook” as the district plans for the future.

“My deep roots here are part of what drives my strong vision for the future. I plan to live out the rest of my days here, which I believe gives me greater commitment to the districts’ vision for the future, and a vested interest in seeing that vision realized,” explains Slagell.

Over 9 years of experience in the foster care system affords Slagell a perspective not many have. She feels those experiences will be invaluable as she comes to the table to help make decisions for the TLSD’s students as a BOE member.

“My years of experience in the (foster care) system have made me passionate for children who are often overlooked in both society (and) our educational system. (...) Yes, our district report card looks terrible, and our test scores need work; but we also have the second-highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students and the highest limited-English proficiency percentage in the county. Our families (struggle) with poverty, addiction, language barriers, hunger, imprisonment, and unemployment. It is ridiculous for us to expect a child who is hungry, who may not know where they are sleeping that night, or who has a parent who is absent or deceased, to be able to do well on standardized testing. Academics are very important, but we are also aiming to graduate responsible and productive citizens, no matter their academic ability. This is a perspective I hope to keep at the forefront while we make decisions driving the big picture of our district - how can we best set our students up for long-term success?”

Like her fellow freshmen BOE members, Slagell believes communication is the key to transparency and helping to create, and reach, meaningful goals for the TLSD.

“I believe this current Board is extremely committed to better communication in all areas of the district...Everyone who lives here is a stake-holder in this district in one way or another. As a Board, we need to be diligent (to) honor the community’s interests and funding with concrete and achievable goals, and that we communicate those in a clear and legible way. (The BOE) has already begun discussions on improved communication techniques for the district.”

Slagell has a government official Facebook page for anyone who would like to contact her directly; however, she really encourages community members and TLSD students to attend the monthly BOE meetings to learn more about what the Board is doing.

“With three new members on the Board, we still have a lot to learn--which means we will be asking lots of questions and having a lot of discussion. Our meetings are sure to be informative!”

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