New SE superintendent will help find principal

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From a pool of over 30 applicants, the Southeastern Local board of education selected John Abdella of Greenville to be the district’s new superintendent. The board awarded Abdella a two-year contract on June 6.

The district relied on in-house re-sources to conduct the superintendent search, rather than contract with the Ohio School Boards Association. Cathy Holfinger, executive secretary in the administrative offices, coordinated advertisement of the job. Interim Superintendent Brian O’Mara and Treasurer Brad McKee screened the applications. The school board conducted the interviews and made the final selection.

“John exhibited a lot of the leadership qualities as a superintendent of schools you need to have,” said board President Rick Burton, who made special note of Abdella’s communication skills.

Abdella will work three days in July with O’Mara to make the transition. O’Mara has served as interim superin-tendent since Jan. 1. His last day on the job will be July 31.

While in the office in July, Abdella also will start screening applications for the principal vacancy at Miami View School. Burton said the board hopes to have a candidate recommendation to vote on at its July 17 meeting.

Abdella comes to Southeastern with 33 years of experience in education in Ohio, most recently as superintendent of Greenville City Schools, located near the Indiana line. Greenville is closing two elementary schools, restructuring its other elementaries, and reducing staffing to balance a $17 million deficit in the district’s five-year forecast.

Abdella said the smaller school population at Southeastern attracted him to the superintendent’s position. Greenville Schools has 3,200 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, nearly four times the number Southeastern has.

“I prefer the smaller district because people get to know each other better. It’s more personable,” he said. He also likes the fact that he can work in a small-town atmosphere and at the same time have easy access to several cities, including Columbus, Dayton and Springfield.


Prior to his year at Greenville, Abdella spent four years as a high school principal for Trimble Local Schools in Glouster, the same district in which he started his career as a teacher and coach in 1974. While a principal at Trimble, he established virtual learning opportunities for students, a parent/principal advisory council, and student/principal advisory council.

“I try to use a team approach. Every-body has a role,” Abdella said of his leadership philosophy. That includes seeking input not only from employees and the community, but also from students.

“The kids are the focus, and we want their input, too. They have a different outlook and, while we can’t do everything they want, they do have a lot of good ideas,” he said.

From 1998 to 2002, Abdella served as junior high principal for Wellston City Schools in southern Ohio, for which he prepared the building budget, among other duties.

The other administrative and teaching positions he has held include: teacher and coach for Indian Lake Local Schools in Lewistown, 1994-97; teacher and coach for Ridgewood Local Schools in West Lafayette, 1991-94; assistant high school principal for Warren Local Schools in Vincent, 1990-91; athletic director and assistant elementary principal for Olen-tangy Local Schools in Delaware (1988-90); high school principal for Mount Gilead Exempted Village Schools, 1987-88; assistant high school principal for Athen City Schools, 1985-87; and elementary principal for Vinton County Local Schools, 1983-85.

“I have a good understanding of what goes on at every level, because I’ve taught, coached or served as an administrator at every level,” Abdella said.

The new Southeastern superintendent earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education from Ohio Univer-sity. He completed his post-master’s work in education administration in 1982, also at Ohio University. He is in the process of completing his dissertation for his doctorate degree through California Coast University of Santa Ana, Calif.

Abdella said his first order of business upon starting full-time at Southeastern will be to assess the district’s strengths and weaknesses and desired direction.

Burton commented, “John will be the fourth superintendent we’ve had in my four years on the school board. We’re excited to work with him. I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and dig into long-term goals and get some continuity built up between our school board, superintendent, principals and staff.”

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