Four Candidates Vying for Three Seats on Riverdale School Board

Written on October 28, 2021

...This story was shared on the Forest-Jackson Public Library Facebook page…

Voters of Riverdale Local Schools have three school board seats up for election, and four candidates vying for the seats. Below are statement the Riverdale Education Association obtained from each candidate. All four were asked for a statement and a photo. These appear in alphabetical order. Please feel free to share.

Rick Clark:

My name is Rick Clark and I’m running for school board at Riverdale. I’m an alum of Riverdale from the class of 1990. I’m married to Michele who is the elementary library aide at the school. We have four kids. Olivia (2019) and Jackson (2021) have graduated from RHS and have moved on to college endeavors. Will is a freshman and Allison is in 7th grade. I’ve been in banking for 22 years and currently work at Quest Credit Union as a Loan Officer and Business Loan Analyst. While my kids have been growing up, I’ve helped coach them in soccer over a 12 year span. I have also helped with coaching youth baseball and youth basketball teams. Over the years, I also have volunteered with teaching youth groups and Sunday School classes at the church we attend (West Independence United Methodist Church), as well as assisting with past vacation bible schools.

I have been vested with Riverdale’s education and future for our children probably since I’ve graduated over 30 years ago. As part of the community and alum, you take a sense of pride of what your school has done and produced over time. I’ve seen how the district supported the building of a new school and upgraded facilities to enhance our students’ experiences. I appreciate the board’s efforts to make available various programs in elementary, middle and high school curriculum that students can utilize to help them excel in the real world.

Due to the vacancy on the board, I’m running to become part of a mission that sees that we maintain our standards and hopefully increase them when we can. Our actions as district citizens– whether active or passive, will have an impact as to where this school can go with developing productive young people and their contributions to society. Whether my position is that of parent, citizen or board member, my concerns for our school would remain the same, with common sense and communicating to the district residents when we need their assistance whether it be with their finances, time, skills or other means. It takes effort and example from the community to commit to excellence for our children’s education, reap the rewards and then have it reciprocated again and again.

Derek Dailey:

My name is Derek Dailey. I grew up in Columbus and attended both private and public schools. I met my wife, Beth, in the summer of my Sophomore year at the University of Findlay. Although I didn’t graduate from Riverdale myself, Beth, her immediate family, and many members of her extended family did. After we were married, we lived and worked in the Columbus area. I always wanted our children to have an experience in school like Beth did. We had the opportunity to move back into the area and decided to move to a community within the school district, so our children could attend Riverdale. Now all three of our children attend this wonderful school.

I have been on the Board for about six years. I was appointed to fill an empty seat in early 2016 and was elected in 2017 for the 2018-2022 term. During most of that time, although we did have to make some major decisions, the District ran smoothly until the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Board member, and in both my personal and professional life, this was truly one of the most difficult times of my life. The idea that we would be faced with a worldwide pandemic was inconceivable to me, and maybe to everybody. During the pandemic, the Board had to make some difficult decisions, from financial decisions to health- related decisions. I don’t know if any decision was popular with everyone, but they were still decisions that had to be made and each one was done with the long term health and success of the students, parents, teachers, and staff of Riverdale, as well as our communities. No decision I made was done without deliberating and weighing the pros and the cons of each issue.

Now, I am running because I care about our communities and I believe a good education and a strong Riverdale are important for our communities. I believe in Riverdale and believe the excellent education provided to our students will benefit not only the students and their families, but our communities as a whole. I speak with many community members who express frustration with not only how money is collected, but how it is spent. If elected, I hope to help the District and our communities understand school finance, and not only to continue to learn the many sources of funding and the restrictions on spending, but to be able to explain it well to any community member who may have questions.

Laura Leopold:

My name is Laura Leopold, and I am running again, for Riverdale Local Schools Board of Education.
A little bit about myself and my family. I am married to Steve Leopold, and we have 2 children whom both graduated from Riverdale. Audrey (2018 Riverdale Grad), is currently a senior at The Ohio State University, where she is pursuing her Undergrad in Social Work, and Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies. JoAnna (2019 Riverdale Grad) is currently a freshman at The College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati after transferring there from the Ohio State Lima branch, where she is in the Commercial Music Production major. I also have a current “student”, or actually maybe “staff” member there. I am dog Mom to Spencer the Therapy dog, who goes to school about 4 days a week to work with the Elementary counselor.

I grew up in Sunrise, Florida, and then Xenia, Ohio where I graduated from Xenia High School. I have become very active in this community, from being a volunteer EMT with Jackson-Forest EMS, to the Forest area CIC where we are involved in doing things to make our village a better place.
While this area is not my “hometown”, I have come to consider it as such, and have become very involved in not only the school, but the community as well. I first became involved in the school once my oldest started Kindergarten there. I became a member of the PTO, where I served until my kids were in High school and Jr High. I then began to volunteer my time as an aide for students needing extra help in the classroom. Eventually I was hired fulltime, and worked there for several years. In 2015, I started my own business, All Pro Printing & Graphics and left my position at Riverdale. My involvement with the school, however did not end there. While I continued to go to and help at sporting events my children were involved in, I also was approached about serving on the school board. One member had left during their term, and I was appointed to that position by the then school board members. I found I enjoyed serving on the board very much, and ran again when that term was up.
Having worked at the school, I think that gives me a different perspective, on how things are and how things work, giving me the perspective of parent, staff member, and board member. I feel that gives me the ability to look at issues and decisions in a more well-rounded way. I also feel I have a relationship with a lot of staff members that make it so many feel comfortable talking to me about any issues they may have, or to make suggestions on changes they would like to see. I still have many staff members whom I consider friends there, and always strive to not only make decisions on board that benefit the students, but also the staff as well. A good School Board member not only has to be able to make decisions, especially the hard ones, they also have to be able to speak up and speak your mind on issues. That is something I have always been proficient at lol. I am not someone who is afraid to speak up, give an opinion, or fight for what I believe in, even if it goes against the majority.

I may not have graduated or attended Riverdale. But I have really come to love our “little school in the corn field” as if I had. We have so very much to be proud of here at Riverdale, from the amazing staff, the diverse classes and extra curriculars we offer, to our students and community members. We have unfortunately had more than our share of tragedy happen to students or staff at our school. While those tragedies are something I wish had never happened in the first place, to watch the community come together in these times is something behold. I don’t think anyone school or community and come together for one of our own quite like the Falcon Community. All in all, what we have here at Riverdale is amazing, and I love and am proud to be a part of it, and if re-elected, will be proud to continue to do so.

Ashley Walters:

My name is Ashley Walters and I would like to announce my candidacy for Riverdale Board of Education in the upcoming November 2nd, 2021 election. I would appreciate your vote.

I am a 2001 Riverdale High School graduate, currently residing in the Wharton area with my husband Ryan and our two children Ellie and Everett. I am a member of the Riverdale PTO, Wyandot County Chamber of Commerce and attend the Wharton First Church of God. I graduated in 2006 from Owens Community College with an Associates degree in Nursing. I worked as a registered nurse at Blanchard Valley Hospital for 7 years. For the past 8 years I have been a stay-at-home mom and farmers wife.

I am seeking this position because I want to help an already great school become the best it can be. With having two children that attend Riverdale, it is important to me that the school thrive and grow in a positive direction. If elected, I will continuously search for ways to help our teachers and staff be prepared and equipped to educate our children.

There are many important priorities that I feel need to be addressed, should I be elected in November. Bridging the gap and instilling a sense of trust between the board and community is one. Ensuring that our hard earned tax dollars are being used in an appropriate manner is another. Also, it is very important to me to ensure the values, ethics, and traditions that have already been built are maintained in our school. I take a firm stance against critical race theory and believe it has no place in the Riverdale school system.

I will ensure that all voices in our community are represented fully. In doing this, I will encourage open lines of communication between teachers and residents of our district with board members. I am fully committed to making myself available to listen to all.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope to have your support at the polls November 2nd.


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