Blake Young had aspirations to become a school principal. He just didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.
On Aug. 18, the new Wauseon Primary School principal was told just hours after interviewing for the position that he’d been hired. “It was just too good an opportunity to pass up at the time,” he said.
The problem was, Young was still the district’s sixth grade language arts teacher, and the new school year began the next day. He made it work by teaching the middle school class for 1 1/2 days, until a substitute could be found and he could assume his new role.
“It was a hectic start,” he admitted. “The first couple days were overwhelming.”
Young, 31, replaces Troy Armstrong, who recently accepted a position as assistant superintendent for Springfield Local Schools after a decade of service with the Wauseon district. In his first stint as a principal, Young will oversee the primary school’s 451 students and its faculty and staff. He was among over 20 applicants for both the district’s primary school principal and curriculum director positions.
“I’ve known I’ve wanted to do this for quite some time. The plan is to be at Wauseon for as long as they’ll have me,” he said.
The Ohio City, Ohio, native earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a focus on early and middle childhood studies, and a Master of Education degree in Administration and Supervision from the University of Toledo. He also completed coursework for an Ohio Department of Education license as a principal for grades PreK-6.
After beginning his career with Wilkes County Schools in North Carolina, Young taught fifth grade in Huntington, Ind. He then spent six years at Springfield Local Schools, two as a fourth grade teacher, four as a third grade teacher. He and his wife, Nicole, a physician assistant, moved to Wauseon four years ago.
Young said growing up in a small town left him eager to pursue work in those surroundings. “Just being part of it was a goal,” he said.
He praised the school’s former leadership, saying, “Mr. Armstrong really had the building running like clockwork.” He also is impressed with the primary school faculty and staff.
“I noticed in the first few days how much they care about the kids. You definitely have people who are there for the right reasons–to care for the kids and help them grow,” Young said.
And while he expects the position to challenge him, “I have a lot of go-to people that can put me in the right direction. I have a really good staff that I can go to for questions. You see a whole new side to education that you didn’t see as a teacher.”
Young has no immediate plans to implement changes, and continuing to provide a safe student environment is foremost within his goals. Another priority is to eventually see the district’s primary classes infused with more technology. Presently, students in grades K-2 attend computer lab at least once a week, and are being introduced this school year to “Journeys,” a computer-based literacy program.
At some point, Young will request input from faculty members about what changes they would like. For now, however, “We’ll just continue what we’ve been doing so well, and providing the best education that we possibly can,” he said.
Superintendent Larry Brown said Young brings valuable experience to his position. “Both the interview committee and myself are confident (he) will continue to improve our schools based on (his) energy and positive focus,” he said.
Young and his wife welcomed their first child, Addison Nicole, to the world Aug. 27. After taking a short family leave of absence, the exercise enthusiast and avid Ohio State University football fan will return to Wauseon Primary School to tackle the academic year in his administrative position.
“I’ve always had a passion for working with younger kids, and helping them lay the foundation for their education,” he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.