Veteran Bellbrook school leaders moving on

Bellbrook schools’ leadership turnover will continue this summer, as 14-year high school principal Chris Baker and 21-year middle school principal Jenness Sigman are leaving those posts.

Sigman is moving to the district’s manager of business job, replacing the retiring Jeff Lewis. Baker is resigning after 41 total years in education, and David Hann, a BHS assistant principal for 10 years, was approved Thursday night as the new high school principal, starting this summer. The district hopes to hire a new middle school principal at the April 11 school board meeting, Superintendent Doug Cozad said Friday.

RELATED: Bellbrook among 28 Ohio districts to earn “A” grade

Compared to most local school districts, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools had very little leadership turnover for years. Keith St. Pierre was superintendent for 24 years before retiring in 2018, while Baker, Sigman, treasurer Kevin Liming and three of the five school board members have all been in their roles since at least 2006.

St. Pierre retired in 2017-18 after going on medical leave, with Lewis stepping in as interim superintendent. Then last summer, the school board hired Cozad away from Franklin schools with a three-year contract as superintendent. Now Lewis, who is back in the business manager role, is retiring. Cozad said Sigman and Hann’s transitions should be smooth.

“It’s continued stability because it’s people within the district, so they know the culture already,” Cozad said. “We have a new strategic plan that we’re implementing, and they know that at an intimate level. Dave’s been assistant principal for about 10 years, so he knows that building and he’s going to be a great fit there. … We have people who know the culture and the kids and parents. That’s a huge bonus.”

RELATED: Cozad hired to lead Bellbrook-Sugarcreek schools

Sigman led Bellbrook Middle School since 1998 as the school won multiple awards for science and STEM education. Cozad said Bellbrook schools is taking the manager of business job back to a part-time position next year, so Sigman will work year-round, but three days a week on a 144-day contract.

Cozad said interviews for the middle school principal position will begin in the coming week, and the district will soon post Hann’s high school assistant principal job.

Baker has been Bellbrook High School principal since 2005, and saw the school honored by Newsweek, the state board of education and others for strong academic performance. But after 41 years in education, he said he’s been most fortunate to work with great kids, at both his Bellbrook and Northridge stops.

2017 STORY: St. Pierre retires after 24 years as superintendent

“I don’t think there’s a day I get up that I don’t think about having a good day, because this is a good place to be,” Baker said, complimenting Hann and Nikki LaSota, who have been his assistant principals for 10 years. “Bellbrook is a great community, really supports academics, supports our mission at the school. Great parents are part of that. … If you look at a lot of districts, when you have stability and high achievement, people don’t like to move.”

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