Laura Blessing is coming to Miamisburg after leading an admittedly smaller, rural Indiana school district where public education is funded differently.
But the 48-year-old, newly-approved superintendent is familiar with what she expects will be some of the cultural diversity and funding issues of the job she’ll officially start Aug. 1.
The superintendent of about 1,250 students in Northeastern Wayne Schools near Richmond says her home state used to be more heavily reliant on property taxes to finance education and notes that she has worked as an administrator in Muncie city schools, where the 5,200-student population nearly mirrors Miamisburg’s numbers.
In her current position, “I’ve done the job in a smaller setting than Miamisburg, so I probably have worn more hats than some other candidates,” said Blessing, the only out-of-state applicant interviewed by the Miamisburg school board.
“I know a lot of what the (central office administrators) and team members do on a daily basis because I’ve kind of done a lot of their jobs – just on a smaller scale,” she added.
The Miamisburg board of education last week voted to name Blessing as the successor to David Vail, who is retiring July 31 after nearly 40 years in education.
Blessing was awarded a four-year contract with an annual base starting salary of $145,000, according to records. She will be first female superintendent in the district, which includes the city, most of Miami Twp. and part of German Twp.
Before spending seven years as head of Northeastern Wayne Schools, Blessing was an administrator for nine years. She has served as a curriculum director, elementary principal, middle school assistant principal and an elementary teacher.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Indiana University, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Ball State University.
Having spent her career in Indiana, Blessing said she will go get up to speed on any differences in education laws and finances between the two states.
“The state legislature obviously makes a lot of decisions for the schools. So I would have to make sure that I am aware of any changes that the state has in terms of requirements that Indiana might or might not have,” she said.
Miamisburg school board President Dale Toadvine spoke during the hiring process of the district’s need for a collaborative leader. He said Blessing was “the best fit for Miamisburg.”
Blessing said she is “thrilled and honored” to accept the job, which she promises to do energetically.
“If feel that as a lifelong learner and the leader of a school district you’ve got to continue to master your craft and be on top of your game,” she said.
“I bring a lot of enthusiasm. It’s just part of my personality,” Blessing added. “I’m very kid-centered. I like to attend events. I like to know how the students are doing, visit the schools, talk with the staff and the teachers, and really understand the needs that they have.
“Because that’s really a school leader’s job – to understand and make decisions that are going to impact all of your stakeholders.”
Blessing said she and Vail have set aside five days in July for a transition.
Two priorities she spoke of in starting the job will be to reach a contract agreement with the district’s classified employees union – if it has not been already settled – and tackle issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down schools.
The coronavirus “is going to be a big priority on everyone’s list to ensure some type of safe return - if the governor and the health officials allow that – and how we will work through that as a team and as a school district,” Blessing said.
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