Will Hoge sings a song that Chevrolet uses in their commercials to advertise their Chevy Silverado trucks. The song is titled “Strong” and it often reminds me of our Information Technology Director, Keith Schlarb.
“He’s a twenty year straight get to work on time
He’s a love one woman for all his life…
He’ll pick you up and won’t let you down
Rock solid inside out
Somebody you can trust
Steady as the sun
Ain’t nothing gonna knock him off the road he’s rollin on
The lyrics are only half right. Keith is not a 20 year Worthington employee, he’s a 40 year Worthington employee, and he’s the only IT Director Worthington Schools has ever had, or needed. Around the fall of 1973 Keith began his career in Worthington as a science teacher at the middle school. Today, most everything in Worthington, both operationally, and with instruction, runs through Keith’s office.
Keith grew up on an eastern Ohio farm and it shows in his approach to work. Keith works! He’s incredibly steady and consistent. Every day he shows up and puts in 10-12 hours. He’s here every Saturday and most Sunday’s. He’s quiet in his approach (not so quiet behind closed doors), he rarely complains, he just works. He is a process person and has incredible project management skills. With Keith the details are always taken care of.
Keith’s no frills approach to work, and life, can be seen throughout the school district in our approach to technology. Keith wants to do things right. He isn’t swayed by the newest and greatest technology. He pushes me every day to be able to articulate what difference a particular piece of technology will make to student learning and how if it is purchased it will change classroom practice. At the same time he’s striving to make certain that his department can provide the support that will be needed for the technology.
It’s not easy being a technology director in a large school district today. Technology is changing faster than we can keep up with. Our teachers and students all want personalized tools to do the things that they want to do, and the State of Ohio has ideas for how technology and assessment should be married.
Because of these immense challenges, sometimes Keith is under appreciated. He certainly won’t self-promote and likely, he won’t even tell you about the hundreds of things his department does every day. That’s just not Keith. What I appreciate about Keith is that he’s steady and he’s strong, and he just works hard. He may not always do what I think he should, but no one works as hard, and works more consistently, to try and do the best job possible. I’m thankful for a person who has given 40 years of service to Worthington, and I’m hoping for many more years!