Voter Guide: Xenia Community City School District

Voter Guide
Voter Guide



The Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News invited local candidates to fill out the following questionnaire to inform readers.


George W. Leighenheimer

No response

Michael Leipold

No response

Mary Adeline R. Lewis

No response

Joshua Day

City: Xenia

Education: Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering, Auburn; B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Current Employment: U.S. Air Force

Community Involvement: None

Why are you seeking elected office? I have become a candidate because my oldest son started kindergarten this year, and I want to get involved to ensure my kids and the kids in the community are getting the education they deserve. I have a strong belief that parents should be actively involved in their kids’ education. I am also worried about all of the things being taught in the world today. I am an Aerospace Engineer for the U.S. Air Force. I have a better insight and knowledge of science, technology and academics than any other candidate. I have managed million dollar projects, and so I understand budget and finances that most sitting board members do not. I am also the son of a high school teacher. I understand the need to support our teachers if we want to succeed.

Why should voters elect you? I am an aerospace engineer for the U.S. Air Force with a Master’s degree in aerospace engineering and a minor in electrical engineering. I have had the opportunity to work on many projects ranging from F-15s to cutting edge hypersonic technology. I have led multiple multi-million dollar programs, and I understand how to get things done. I think it’s time for a change. We deserve someone that will stand up for our teachers and kids, our beliefs, and our country. Our kids should be taught to love this country. Our teachers need to be heard and supported. I understand how hard you work, and I will make sure your voice is heard. We need to build upon our recent achievements and continue to build an excellent place of learning for our children. We need to return our classrooms to a pre-COVID normalcy. Our children deserve to go to school in an environment set up for them to succeed. I will emphasize Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Academics is one of our weakest points, and it is important to provide opportunities for our children to succeed in today’s world. I will improve our relationship with the career center to offer other great options to our children. I want to be on the board to represent you and ensure that the community’s voice is heard again.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? Academics, bullying, and doing a better job of including, listening to, and supporting our teachers and community.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? No. 1 is academics. I think we can go further to continue to improve the academics in our schools. XCS currently has $35 million in the bank and that has grown every year for the past 5 years. We can use some of that money to help fund innovative STEAM programs or offer more hands on activities for our students. We have Wright-Patterson AFB right in our backyard, where some of the most leading edge technology is being developed. We can provide better for our kids. No. 2 is bullying. I have heard a lot lately about bullying in XCS from many parents. I know bullying is never going to completely go away, and it is a tricky subject. We need to help train our principals and staff how to recognize bullying and push on them to do a better job at enforcing anti-bullying policies. We can also invite speakers out to the schools to help teach and inspire students to work together and reduce bullying. No. 3 is we need to do a better job of including, listening to, and supporting our teachers and community. I feel a big part missing from XCS is the passion from the community and parents in support of the schools. Some teachers I have spoken with also don’t feel heard and supported. We need to meet with the community and teachers, be accessible and just be there so they know we have their backs.

Anything else? It’s really simple. Do we continue on this path? This path of ignoring bullying in our schools, ignoring the voices of our community, ignoring our teachers and staff, rubber stamping everything the superintendent says, refusing to acknowledge CRT and the dangers it poses to our children, and an overarching lack of transparency in the school curriculum and decisions of the board? Or do we vote for a new Day in Xenia? Do we vote for someone that is openly and firmly against the teachings of CRT, someone that will stand up to the superintendent and demand action against the bullying in our schools, demand accountability for decisions made, someone that wants our kids to be taught to love this great country, and someone that will stand up for our teachers and staff? I am that person, and if you want to make these changes I encourage you to vote for me, and I will answer to you to make the superintendent answer to you.

Mary M. Grech

City: Xenia

Education: BS in Occupational Therapy, Washington University, Missouri; Behavioral Certification program, completed 2012, FLA Institute of Technology

Current Employment: Retired from Greene County Educational Service Center; Currently co-own and operate Francis Kennels

Community Involvement: Dayton Right to Life supporter; previous church Vestry experience

Why are you seeking elected office? After over 20 years in the schools as an occupational therapist and a small business owner, I see this as the next logical step to continue my work helping students gain access to a quality education.

Why should voters elect you? I have an excellent working knowledge of the education system, having spent years in schools all over Greene County. I have an understanding of what its like to be an educator as well as a parent. From my years as a small business owner, I understand the utmost importance of communication. I am able to see the “big picture” to identify problems and determine possible solutions.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? Transparency - both within the actual meetings, and in the policies and decisions made by the board; Accountability - financial and with policy decisions made by the board; Participation - an accessible board, as well as increased parent participation.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? I would like to look at the barriers to understand what is said and seen at the meetings; help the board personnel to be more accessible to teachers and parents; educate the community on what the board is able to address and suggest alternative avenues for problems that the board is unable to address; and work to ensure that the taxpayer’s money is spent wisely, and access to this information is easily accessed.

Anything else? I support Xenia Community Schools, and have for years. Activities such as providing food donations, sponsoring various teams and extracurricular activities, and voting for levy and bond issues. Whether I win or lose this election, these activities will continue. Win or lose, I will continue to ask tough questions of the newly elected board.

Heather Lee

City: Xenia

Education: Cedarville University, Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education; Current Ohio Teaching License

Current Employment: Part-time student teacher supervisor, part-time private teacher

Community Involvement: Touchdown Club (Xenia High School football booster), PTO (McKinley Elementary and Warner Middle School)

Why are you seeking elected office? I desire to add positive value to the board by asking good questions, conducting research, and working with other board members to build bridges of communication and confidence between the community and the teachers and staff of XCS all for the success of every Xenia student.

Why should voters elect you? I am committed to education and have a desire to ensure quality educational access to every child while working with families and community members. I care about all students and want to do my part to help them achieve academic success as well as develop the skills and abilities to contribute to the good of their community. In addition, I’ve lived in Xenia for nearly 20 years, hold a current teaching license, and have a son at the high school. I am competent to successfully fulfill the duties of a school board member. For years, I have volunteered at McKinley Elementary and Warner Middle schools. I have served on committees, PTO, and Touchdown Club. Lastly, I am compassionate to the diverse backgrounds and individual stories of students and their grownups. Meeting them where they are, celebrating their successes and helping them to grow in areas of needed improvement will all work together for their success in Xenia Community Schools. My desire to serve Xenia Community Schools and my community along with my qualifications make me a good candidate for Xenia School Board.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? My top three priorities will be raising academic achievement, increasing support of teachers and staff, and elevating community confidence and trust in the school board.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? My ideas for raising academic achievement would be to regularly review student learning data, make sure the teachers have relevant curriculum that is research based and provide quality trainings to ensure the curriculum is being taught with fidelity. In addition, raising academic achievement will also include evaluating student retention in our district. Some ideas for addressing student retention are to increase communication with parents, to build trust by handling issues that come up in a consistent, timely manner and to work to provide quality educational opportunities and programs that will keep students in Xenia Community Schools. My ideas for increasing support of teachers and staff are to first acknowledge that teachers are exhausted and discouraged due to COVID, increased emotional needs of students, learning loss, etc. Encouragement and support will include providing quality professional development on topics that directly impact them, conducting surveys and “town hall” meetings to assess what their needs and concerns are, and to rally community stakeholders to invest in our teachers, classrooms and students. Lastly, to raise community confidence and trust in the school board, the board needs to increase communication with the public. This could be in the form of a monthly newspaper column, website/internet format or a “citizen’s academy” for educating about the school district, board responsibilities and priorities, and sharing appropriate checks and balances. These are a few of my ideas as I consider my responsibilities as a school board member and addressing issues that our schools are facing.

Anything else? I will do my best to carry out the responsibilities of a Xenia Community School Board member with commitment, competency and compassion.

Cheryl D. Marcus

City: Xenia

Education: Ed.S. - Education Specialist Degree, University of Dayton

Current Employment: School board member, Xenia Community Schools; Independent consultant, Program Evaluation

Community Involvement: Ohio Program Evaluation Group, immediate past newsletter editor and member of the board of directors; Wilberforce Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, immediate past president; Vice President of the Xenia Community Schools Foundation; Xenia Community Schools’ Board of Education; Steward board of United African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Why are you seeking elected office? I am seeking another term on the school board to continue the progress made during my most recent tenure (2014-current). I am pleased with the growth and improvements we’ve made to date, and I want to lend my voice and talents for the forthcoming growth and development.

Why should voters elect you? I am a firm advocate for public schools, and I believe in its power to provide an excellent and effective education for the children in the Xenia community. The voters can be confident that I will use 100% of my efforts to help our children and our community.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1) Continue to promote educational excellence for all children; 2) Continue to strengthen community confidence in public education by creating a platform for recognizing and respecting differences and our commonalities as they exist; and 3) Advocate and strengthen collaborative partnerships and trust throughout our community.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Working cooperatively with my fellow board members, superintendent and treasurer, these priorities will be recommended to become a part of the new five-year strategic plan poised to be described and defined in the new year.

Anything else? The district’s progress over the past five years is phenomenal. The voters are urged to remember the improvements in our facilities such as the restoration of the historic Benner Field House, the restoration of the Bob Hope Auditorium at Xenia High School, and the approval for funding a new middle school. The advances we’ve made in student achievement is evidenced by our progress with the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and our re-imagining of our virtual learning option via the Online Edge program. Lastly, we are fiscally responsible. We’ve locked in low-interest rates for our bonds, which will save our residents close to $20 million as we build a new facility. Let’s keep moving forward together!