Wes Hairston, former superintendent of Rock Hill School District in Lawrence County, officially took the helm as superintendent of the Scioto Valley Local School District on Thursday, Aug. 1. Hairston replaces Dr. Todd Burkitt who resigned as superintendent at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
Hairston began working as a teacher and coach at the Rock Hill School District in 1979 and embarked on a career in school administration in 1993, becoming a high school assistant principal at the school district. Hairston went on to become a middle school principal in 2001, and district superintendent of Rock Hill in 2009.
Hairston retired from Rock Hill School District in August 2018.
“I took a year off to travel and spend time with my family,” he said.
After the break from work, Hairston’s thoughts turned again to education.
“I always had an eye on public education and everything that was taking place, and I had a desire to get back in,” he said.
Learning about the superintendent vacancy at Scioto Valley Local School District, Hairston requested an interview and, two interviews later, he was hired for the superintendent position.
According to Hairston, Scioto Valley School District is similar to the school district he came from as an administrator, Rock Hill.
“It has a lot of commonalities,” he said.
Hairston finds working as an administrator at Scioto Valley Local School District exciting.
“Let me tell you why,” he said. “They have a very progressive school board and it’s been doing a lot of good things for children.”
Hairston said he is also excited by the existence of the athletic complex at Piketon, as well as the performing arts (auditorium) at Piketon High School.
“I spent my last year in the superintendent’s office (at Rock Hill) trying to get funds from the state to put in a performing arts center, and here’s why: not every kid is an athlete, and not every kid is a scholar. Every single one of them can do something and that auditorium they’re building is exciting because it gives children an opportunity to do a lot of things, so I’m excited for that.”
Hairston said he agrees with the school board’s decision to close Zahn’s Corner School indefinitely due to their concerns about possible contamination by radioactive materials.
“I think the board made the right decision in shutting the middle school down until we know with 100 percent certainty that it is okay for habitation,” he said.
Hairston said he plans to “always focus on school safety.”
“I think more than anything else, parents value the safety of their children and they certainly want to see that they’re well educated and have an opportunity to go out in life and be successful,” he said. “School security will certainly be something that, as time goes by, we will focus on heavily.”
Hairston said he plans to “spend a great deal of time with school staff “ to improve the district’s test scores.
Hairston is married with two children. His wife Lisa works at Southern Ohio Medical Center. His son Jordan is a physical therapy assistant at Tri-State Physical Therapy in Ironton and has recently been accepted into medical school to become a physical therapist. Hairston’s daughter Jill is a junior at Shawnee State University. An education major, she plans to attend law school in the future.
“I’ve been well received here,” Hairston said. “People are incredibly friendly, incredibly helpful, and I’m excited to be part of the community.”
Hairston thanked the community and school board for their confidence in him.
“I will, to the best of my ability, provide a safe environment for students and staff, and I hope to provide great educational opportunity in a place that’s safe.” he said. “I think we have a great school with a lot of positive things here this year, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Events scheduled at Scioto Valley Schools in the immediate future include:
Aug. 10 at 11 a.m.: Scientists working at the University of Northern Arizona will present a public meeting to discuss their findings concerning radiological contamination at Zahn’s Corner Middle School.
Aug. 12: Open house at Jasper elementary from 3 to 6 p.m. Open house at Piketon High School from 4 to 6 p.m.
Aug. 13: Teacher in-service (no school for students)
Aug. 14: First day of school for students.
Aug. 16: Community night, ribbon cutting for new building projects, and first football scrimmage.