EAST PALESTINE - The community will have the opportunity Saturday to meet with the two finalists for the village school district superintendent position.
Matthew Bowen of Canfield and George Fisk of Bellville have already went through the interview process with the board of education. Both are currently working as elementary school principals and have prior teaching experience.
Bowen said he is drawn to East Palestine because it is similar to the community where he grew up in Springfield Township just north of the village
"To me it's just a perfect fit. I am very excited about the opportunity," he said.
He said he looks forward to sharing his plans for the district with the community on Saturday.
"I want to share with them the passion I have for seeing students succeed at all levels regardless of ability," he said.
Bowen is principal at Damascus Elementary in the West Branch district. He has held the position since 2008 and during that time has helped implement the new common core standards.
Prior to being hired at Damascus he served as associate principal at both Struthers elementary and middle schools from 2006 to 2008. He also served as alternate high school principal during that time. From 1999 to 2006 he taught special education for the Struthers school district.
Struthers City Schools earned the state designation of "excellent" prior to his transition to West Branch and Damascus Elementary earned the "excellent" designation for the first time during his tenure there, he said.
If hired he will work to implement more technology in the district, he said.
"With 21st century skills there is definitely a higher level of need to get technology in the students' hands. That way they can compete in a technology rich world. We have to make sure we are creating the opportunities for students to have the technology in their hands," he said.
He also said he would work to build positive relationships in the community and will care for the students as if they were his own.
"Together we will challenge students and prepare them for success in an ever-changing technology rich world," he said.
Bowen is married with three young children.
George Fisk serves as primary principal of Ontario Local Schools in Mansfield and is originally from the Canton area. On Monday, he was in the East Palestine community gathering feedback from people about what they believe the district needs.
He said schools must be community-driven.
"They have to have faith and trust in their community and provide the education for the kids that the district expects," he said.
He also said that the financial uncertainty most districts are facing now as a result of state funding cuts is something that will have to be addressed.
Like others in the county, the school district has deficits projected in its five-year forecast and could be in the red by $3.9 million in 2016.
"It's just a time for communities to come together and support their local schools in spite of what may be happening in Columbus. They (the state) have shown us that we can't rely on them financially at this point," he said.
Fisk said one of his strengths is that he has a strong background in teaching.
"This is my 15th year in education. I spent a good majority of that in the classroom as a fourth grade teacher and eighth grade teacher. I think I'd bring the understanding of the difficulty that teachers go through on a daily basis," he said.
Prior to being hired with Ontario Local Schools, he served as elementary principal for Montpelier Exempted Village Schools, eighth grade teacher at Tuscarawas Valley Middle School, fourth grade and behavioral intervention teacher at Mineral City Elementary School and substitute teacher for the Tusky Valley Local and Canton City School districts.
His extra-curricular experience includes serving as head varsity girls golf coach and eighth grade girls basketball coach and LPDC secretary for Tuscarawas schools.
The meet the candidates event is at 1 p.m. Saturday in the high school auditorium.