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Ironton schools have new man in charge

Joseph Gelekta to begin superintendent duties in July

The Ironton school system has a new superintendent, Joseph Gelekta.

Prior to getting his new job, he was the deputy assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at the schools in Atlanta, Texas.

“It is time to come home,” he said.

Although he has resided in Texas for the past 16 years, Gelekta grew up in Ashtabula County in northeast Ohio and went to school in Geneva. After graduating, he went to Thiel College in Pennsylvania to study education and history. He graduated in 1999 and went to Texas to be a history teacher. He has been married for 13 years to his wife, Rebecca, and they had a daughter named Emma, nine months ago.

Gelekta’s plan was always to become a superintendent. After being a history teacher for about four and half years, he became an assistant principal, then a principal, before becoming an assistant superintendent four years ago.

“I have been fortunate in my career to have my hands in a lot of different cookie jars, so to speak, so I am very well-rounded,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to work with tremendous people who pushed me to the next step, saying ‘You’re ready for this.’”

And he knew that at this point in his career, being a superintendent was the next step.

“The question was, did I want to do that in Texas or did I want to go home? That was the decision,” he said.

Gelekta said he decided to come back to Ohio to be closer to family, since it takes about 15 hours to get to Geneva from his home in Texas near the border with Arkansas and Louisiana.

“My wife and I started our family, we have a young child and I think it is important she grow up with access to her grandparents and other relatives,” he said. “We just haven’t been able to have that for many years. And it certainly changes when you have a child.”

Gelekta said that it was a very different type of process in becoming the superintendent of Ironton Schools with a community forum being done during the interview.

“I commend the Board of Education, because it was a very thorough process,” he said. “But I hope what I conveyed to the board and to the public was that I have a strong passion for curriculum and instruction,” Gelekta said. “That is my game, that is what I enjoy doing. And I hope that translates very easily into Ironton that we are going to work on curriculum and instruction to improve learning for all students.”

Gelekta begins the superintendent position on July 1.

He replaces Dean Nance, who has been superintendent since 2003 after being the Ironton High School principal for two years. Nance will be a teacher at the high school since he is certified to teach grades 7-12 in math, biology, life science and earth science.