Superintendent finds home away from home

Milton Union schools Superintendent Brad Ritchey, right, works with district staff in preparation for the 2017-18 school year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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Milton Union schools Superintendent Brad Ritchey, right, works with district staff in preparation for the 2017-18 school year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

As Brad Ritchey explored school superintendent job options in 2016, he was hoping to find something that would remind him of home.

“I was interested in being someplace where you could wrap your arms around a district. It was someplace where you are one of the crowd and have a fighting chance of getting to know people,” he said.

He thinks he found that place in the West Milton area and the Milton-Union schools where he’s beginning his second year as district superintendent.

Ritchey grew up in a town about half the size of West Milton, the Licking County community of Utica, home to Velvet Ice Cream company.

At an early staff meeting in the 2016-17 school year, he put up an aerial map of Utica, and asked people to tell him what community was being shown. Some thought it was West Milton, he said.

“There are a lot of similarities. There are generational families with people that you know their dads and moms went to the school district, they went to district and their kids go to the school district. There is a lot of that here,” Ritchey said.

He graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree, from Ashland University with a master’s and holds a Ph.D from OSU.

“Early on, I decided to join those who weren’t going to get rich in the field of education, but be a lot happier,” he said.

Ritchey worked teaching and administrative jobs in the Mount Vernon district in Knox County and in the Parma district in the Cleveland area, among others, before landing his first superintendent role at Milton-Union.

This district has 1,500 students and around 100 teachers.

He met his wife, Kellie, while they were both teaching in the Mount Vernon schools. The Ritcheys have three children: Madalyn, who is in the eighth grade; John (seventh); and Jack (second).

Ritchey said he was impressed by the opportunities the district offers students, and by the students who take advantage of those offerings.

He said he continues to like what he sees.

“There are a lot of really good people,” he said. “There has been a good culture built here by the board of education over time. That culture has endured changes in the board. We just have a really good thing going.”

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