Opinion: Shamrock luck


I serve as the managing editor for the Noblesville and Westfield editions of Current and last week I was at the Noblesville School Board meeting when superintendent Dr. Libbie Conner announced her plans to retire on Sept. 1. It got me thinking about how this will be the district’s third superintendent within six years.

Westfield is very lucky to have a leader like Dr. Mark Keen. Keen, who has been overseeing the district since 1997, is the longest tenured superintendent in Hamilton County – and it’s not even close, not by a decade.

Every growing school district has faced challenges since that time and Westfield is no exception. When Keen started, Westfield Washington had a couple of thousand students in four schools. Now the district has nine schools, more than 6,000 students and is the largest employer in the city with more than 800 employees.

What’s more telling are the incredible gains in other stats the district has seen under Keen’s leadership. Graduation rates, standardized tests, AP classes and attendance are all up – to the point they rival any other school district in Hamilton County. You throw in technology and unique teaching programs and WWS offers its students an educational experience unlike neighboring schools.

In addition to being incredibly humble, Keen is very intelligent and the true leader of the district. When other districts have had teacher strikes, Westfield has dealt with issues internally. Before asking any of his educators to take a pay freeze, he and other administrators already spent a year without a raise. It may not seem like much, but actions speak louder than words.

Keen also has a knack for hiring talented people. He’ll be the first to say he has great employees, administrators, teachers and staff members – but he won’t take create for hiring, cultivating and promoting them. Just ask two neighboring school corporations that have former WWS administrators as superintendents.

Unfortunately, at some point Keen will retire and like Noblesville, Westfield will have to find a successor. Thankfully that time is not today and hopefully isn’t tomorrow, but when it does come let’s hope the district has some more Shamrock luck in finding someone as good as him to carry the torch.



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