Football Coach Mike Elder

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 2-28-07, By Rebecca Turman

``New head coach will double as assistant principal

AVON -- Residents of Avon may have heard about the newly hired head football coach at Avon High School. What they may not know is that the coach, Mike Elder, will serve as a second assistant principal at Avon High School, as well.

Along with having an extensive background in football, Elder has had approximately 14 years of experience in special education, most recently as an intervention specialist at Perry High School. He received a master's degree in administration from Cleveland State University in 2006. His contract at Avon will begin in August 2007.

Avon Superintendent Jim Reitenbach said the assistant principal position, which pays $70,000 annually, had been posted internally, but Elder was the right match.

"In our looking for a football coach, Mike surfaced as a person that we thought would be a wonderful assistant principal," Reitenbach said. "This gentleman isn't only football, but he's also an administrator. He's a total professional, extremely passionate about education and athletics. We have the right person for the assistant principal and the right person for the head football coach. Both are being filled by the same person."

Though some may argue that the school doesn't need a second assistant principal, Reitenbach said the enrollment numbers show otherwise. This year, the school has nearly 700 students, and Reitenbach said he expects that to increase by at least 100 each year.

"It's just a natural progression," he said. "We feel the timing is good on this because next year we'll be implementing the expansion. The time has come." ...

According to Assistant Principal Kristina Buller, Elder will be a much needed and welcomed addition to the staff. "I'm inundated," Buller said. "I love my job, but I'm overwhelmed."

Buller said Avon High School would be growing rapidly over the next several years. While this year's graduating class will have 160 kids, next year's incoming freshmen will have about 250, she said.

"In two years, we're going to have a lot more on our plate," Buller said. "A lot of planning, special programs, have fallen to the wayside in order to keep up with day-to-day issues."

Buller hopes that bringing Elder onboard will help put more focus on those special programs for the students. "There are that many more kids to service," she said. "I think he's very motivational, and the kids will like him."

Elder said several factors led to him accepting the job(s) at Avon High School. For one, he and his wife are looking forward to raising their family, 3-and- a-half-year-old son and a 1-and-a-half-year-old daughter, in the area, he said.

"We really liked the community," Elder said. "It's a growing place with a lot happening." "In terms of the school, Avon is obviously rated excellent," Elder said ...

Elder said his experiences as a special education teacher will ultimately help him be a better administrator at Avon High School. Elder said his contributions were more behind-the-scenes as a special ed teacher.

"It's easier to get close to a kid and develop strong relationships when you're working directly with them," he said. "As an administrator, I'll miss that piece of it. It will take a little longer to establish relationships."

However, fostering relationships will remain an important part of his role. "There are a lot of great teachers that I'm going to learn from and I'll offer something to them as well," he said.

Though Elder said it has not been discussed how duties will be split between him and Buller, he said, "I look forward to the new challenges."

While the assistant principal's position is generally a disciplinarian one, Elder said there's no need to worry about him playing favorites with his football players. "Before I accepted this role, I made some phone calls to teachers who've done this (be a principal and a head coach). Anybody who knows me at Perry knows I hold them (my football players) to an even higher standard."

Regardless of what he says, Elder said he realizes that people will always talk about the possibility of favoritism. "The reality is, I'm going to hold them to a higher standard than everyone else because I am so close to them," he said. "I can assure you that they won't get any special treatment. My players at Perry would tell you that."

All in all, Elder said he's excited about working for Avon High School. "After 14 years of doing something, I think you just look forward to a new challenge," he said. "The change is going to be refreshing to me. I'm just really excited about joining this community. I'm happy to be a part of the school system."''

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