Last Friday night I was lucky to be able to attend the Worthington Academy Recognition Ceremony. Worthington Academy is a school that was created to help students see success who may have struggled in traditional schooling. We have 120 students who attend school at the Academy and watching them see success is a true joy. (Learn more about Worthington Academy here, here and here.)
At the recognition ceremony the staff and students at Worthington Academy chose two students who were to receive the Jeff Maddox Award for Inspiration. The award is given to the students who inspire others at Academy for their commitment, perseverance and attitude. (This year the award was given to Kira Helpman and Sadia Ali.) The award is named after our Director of Certified Personnel, Jeff Maddox.
Before moving into his current position selecting new teachers for our school district, Jeff was the Director of Innovation and Support and the person directly responsible for championing the creation of Worthington Academy. Jeff formed a work team along with Ken Nally from WKHS, Julie King from TWHS and current Academy Principal, Adham Schirg, who worked diligently to open this new option for our students. Jeff has a long history of this kind of work in Worthington as 10 years ago he was the administrator on the ground for the the creation and opening of Phoenix Middle School.
In 2017 Worthington has an alternative middle school (Phoenix) and another alternative high school option (Academy) because of Jeff’s selfless leadership. Jeff has great skills in bringing talented people together and helping guide their work. He chooses to lead with others and his selflessness allows others to get the credit. Because of this sometimes people believe that Phoenix and Academy were both started without administrative leadership. Certainly in both cases we had strong teachers and strong teams dreaming about what could be possible and doing significant work. But Jeff’s leadership and guidance behind the scenes was invaluable in both cases.
Jeff is a Worthington graduate who has spent a career investing in Worthington kids. When he and I recently talked about Academy and his role he said, “Worthington has always supported different and I have always appreciated that about this school district.” It’s true that our community has always supported different and we should be proud of that. But what’s also true is that different does not happen without someone championing it and doing the work. I’m proud to work with Jeff Maddox and as I listened to families say “thank you” for the Academy program and the difference it has made for their children I couldn’t help but think, Jeff supported this when others were skeptical. Jeff championed this when I told him it was too expensive. Jeff helped staff Academy with the right principal and the right teachers. Jeff made this happen!
It’s appropriate that Academy named their award for inspiration after Jeff. It’s well earned. He’ll hate this blog because he doesn’t want or ever seek the credit. But credit where credit is due.