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A-W school board selects new superintendent

The Akron Hometowner of Akron, Iowa

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An elementary school principal from the Quad Cities area has been offered a contract to be the next Akron-West-field School superintendent.

Akron-Westfield Board of Education members selected Anthony Ryan, 36, to replace Ron Flynn as superintendent, effective July 1. The selection was made Jan. 28, after the field of 12 candidates was dwindled down to five for interviews Jan. 24, then the final two candidates interviewed Jan. 27 and 28.

The board members' vote to offer Ryan a contract was unanimous. Ryan will be paid $95,000 a year for a two-year contract.

A-W School Board President Jim Black commented on the hire.

"We're very excited to have Mr. Ryan. He brings energy and excitement. We were very pleased with the quality of candidates that G. Tryon And Associates brought us. The focus can now begin on new plans," Black said.

Black acknowledged that this was a long process and the selection between the final two candidates was very difficult. The board did not name the other finalist. The search included a citizens committee that interviewed candidates. It began last spring when the school board and Flynn agreed that this would be his last year.

Tryon was hired to do the search in September.

This was the first completion of five school districts that the firm was searching for. Dave Haggard of the firm said that the economy may be the reason not more applied for the job.

Haggard said that Ryan wishes to let the Akron school board know that the strength of Akron schools lies with its leadership team of principals. Ryan will be meeting with the leadership team of principals, Derek Briggs at the high school and Cathy Bobier for grades kindergarten to sixth.

Ryan comes to the Akron area from Sherrad, Ill., a town 20 miles south of the Quad Cities. He is principal at Winola Elementary School, grades kindergarten to fourth. It is one of five district campuses. The district covers 173 square miles, and has several towns, the largest Viola, with 1,100 population and the district has 1,800 students.

Sherrad Community Unit District Schools won the Magna Award in 2005 for school board accountability, a National Commission on Accreditation honor.

The selection of Ryan was made after a three-hour executive session last Wednesday.

Ryan is "very excited" about his next opportunity in education, to guide Akron-Westfield School District.

"The first thing that impressed myself and my wife was that the community is very proactive, aggressive type and that is what we're looking for," Ryan said in a telephone interview.

He is a graduate of Northern Iowa University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education, his master's is from Drake University in administration and he also has a specialist endorsement for superintendency. His teaching experience came from the Muscatine area schools.

"I was very impressed with the staff and the kids are learning," Ryan said of Akron-Westfield.

His present school has about 311 student enrollment. "We have a lot of things going on for best practices. We're proud of our interventions to help those students struggling with math and reading, to hone their skills. This is a proactive district with many things going on, like our focus on administrative leadership teams," Ryan said.

Ryan and his wife Michelle have three children, two of school age.

"Like any transition, there will be a little pain, but it is also an opportunity," Ryan said.

Ryan takes over from Ron Flynn, who started in 2002-03. Before Flynn, recent school leaders were Paul Calvert, 2000-01 and 2001-02 and Bill Hellerich, 1992-93 to 1999-2000.

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Original Publication Date: February 4, 2009

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