Avon Lake students will see familiar faces in new roles when school starts next month.
The Avon Lake school board unanimously voted during a special meeting on July 23 to promote Melissa Isaly-Johns from assistant principal of Avon Lake High School to interim principal and high school physical education teacher and boys tennis coach Adam Slabodnick to interim assistant principal.
Isaly-Johns, a 23-year veteran at Avon Lake High School, temporarily replaces Principal Joe Mueller, who resigned in early June after accepting the principal’s job at Strongsville High School. Slabodnick, who began working in the school district in 2014 as boys tennis coach, temporarily replaces her.
Isaly-Johns will receive a bump in pay from $85,903 to $90,000 for a 225-day annual contract, and Slabodnick will be paid $78,042 for the upcoming school year, also on a 225-day contract. His salary for a 185-day contract as a PE teacher and tennis coach last year was $67,558, according to the district.
"We're so very lucky to have them in place," Superintendent Bob Scott said. "We never like to have administrative changes I know Melissa will do a great job, and Adam has served in the assistant principal's job before, so this was a no-brainer. When there are personnel changes, things the district has in motion sometimes stop, but the programs we have started will continue. We appreciate them stepping into the positions, and I'm looking forward for them to get in there and help the team."
Their new roles come as the high school is moving forward with projects including a wellness initiative and a $322,000 parking lot improvement project. It will add 50 parking spaces on the south side of the school to better accommodate students and the community attending events.
The district will start its search for a full-time high school principal and assistant principal in January, Scott said.
Isaly-Johns, who began teaching in Avon Lake Schools in 1996, taught special education prior to serving as chair of that department. She had been the assistant principal for the last four years.
"When Joe (Mueller) told me he was thinking about leaving the school for another job, I thought, 'Oh my gosh, we have these programs in place.’ I didn't want these programs to stop.”
Isaly-Johns said that the high school implemented a wellness initiative to help students and staff examine and cope with the stressors they encounter in high school — such as bullying, peer pressure, drugs, pressure from studying and sports — and identify outlets for them such as nutrition, exercise, yoga and meditation.
"Avon Lake is a competitive school, and kids put a lot of pressure on themselves," she said. "The wellness initiative is diverse and helps the students look at ways to deal with what they are going through in school."
Slabodnick, who also has worked on the wellness initiative, began his education career with Keystone Middle School in Lagrange in 2009.
In his first year as boys tennis coach at Avon Lake five years ago, the team finished fifth in the Southwestern Conference, but has finished first or second in the conference since.
"I am having a great experience working in Avon Lake," Slabodnick said. "I'm looking forward to continue helping put things in place."
Freshman orientation starts Aug. 16 and the first day of school is Aug. 26.
"Melissa will bring in some good experience to the principal position,” Scott said. “Adam has a great relationship with the students and is a good student advocate. Having experience in the classroom helps, too. I'm glad we're moving forward."
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