By Melanie Speicher -






HOUSTON — Registered voters in the Hardin-Houston Local School District will elect three people to serve on the board of education. There are four candidates running for the three available seats.

Seeking election are incumbents Bill Clark, 58, of 7311 Hughes Road, Houston, and Steve Mowery, 35, of 7101 Wright Puthoff Road, Sidney, and newcomers Barri Grandey, 65, of 8688 Wright Puthoff Road, Sidney, and Christine Helman, 46, of 10277 W. Mason Road, Sidney.

Clark is a business systems analyst. He is a current member of the H-H board of education and has served on the Shelby County Fair Board, Ohio State University Extension Advisory Board and Washington Township Zoning Board. He and his wife, Mitzi, who teaches at Upper Valley Career Center, are the parents of four children, all graduates of Houston High School.

Grandey was a kindergarten teacher for Hardin-Houston Local School for 37 years until her retirement in May 201. She and her husband, Dennis, are the parents of five daughters, five sons-in-law, eight awesome grandchildren and one precious granddaughter in heaven.

She is a volunteer and past president of Wilson Health Auxiliary; member of Wilson Health Foundation Board; president of Shelby County Retired Teachers Association, 2016-17; member of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, Scholarship chairman and Adopt a classroom committee, vice president 2017-18; voting local Manager for Shelby County Board of Elections; and member of Sidney First United Methodist Church; member of the Houston Community Association. She enjoys activities with my children, grandchildren and extended Shreves family.

Helman, the former Christine Kellar, is a Java software developer. She is married to Brian Helman. She has two children, Kierstyn and Seth Oberdord and two stepchildren, Tori and Abby Helman. She is the daughter of Roland and Helen Kellar and granddaughter of Roy and Gertude Roeth.

Mowery is a strategic pricing and market analyst at Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions. He has been a member of the H-H BOE since 2014. He and his wife have five children.

What are the primary issues in your school district?

Clark: “Unfunded state mandates, excessive state testing.”

Grandey: “Funding; state requirements; relationships with students, parents and staff; bullying, preparing students to be lifelong learners and empowering everyone to succeed.”

Helman: “The primary issue that I am concerned about is our state report card rating. Our rating has decreased over the past few years. The state report card now has 6 components to it. These include Achievement, Gap Closing, K-3 Literacy, Progress, Graduation Rate, and Prepared for Success. I understand that report cards are not the only thing that measures the success of a school district, however, it is an indicator of the direction the school is going. The rating is not what concerns me so much as the fact that it is rating how our students and school district are performing. My concern is that we need to help our students with whatever they are struggling with and empower our teachers to reach every one of our students. I feel that another issue is that we have lost a lot of good teachers over the past several years. I would like to help prevent this trend from continuing.”

Mowery: “The issues in our school district are really no different than any other. We all want to see continuous improvement on the state report card and remain financially stable. There have been a lot of changes with testing lately so continuity in state grades will be helpful, but more importantly we need to make sure we are continuing to educate and prepare our children for their future. I feel our staff and administration have continued to do a great job in these areas.”

Why are you seeking office?

Grandey: “My opportunity to give back to my community and school district.”

Helman: “I want to invest myself and my time into the community and Hardin-Houston school the same way that so many people invested themselves when I was in school. My goal is to take my drive, my motivation, and my passion for education and to work to improve our state report card, and to work closely with the teachers and administration to create a seamless unified team for the ultimate goal of benefiting the education that the students receive. I would like the opportunity to represent the community, the school board, the administration, the staff, and the students with my passion for education to make Hardin-Houston school the best it can be.”

Mowery: “I am seeking office because this is a great way to give back to the school and community that has provided so much to me. I look forward to hopefully being able to continue working with both the administration and staff to build not only strong, trusting relationships, but also ensuring that every student that comes through our doors receives a solid education and strong foundation to help them in their lives. This is not a position that I take lightly at all. My heart is fully committed to this office and making sure that I am doing everything I can to ask the tough questions to ensure that we are doing everything we can to prepare the students for life after high school. I feel that Hardin-Houston administration and staff have done a wonderful job in these areas and are committed to following through and finding other new and fun ways to learn and teach.”

Clark: ”I believe in the Hardin-Houston community and our school. I want to make sure that policies are implemented for continual education staff development I want to ensure that each student is given every opportunity to succeed.”

What makes you a better candidate?

Helman: “As a child, I was instilled with values from my parents, Roland and Helen Kellar, that education is of the utmost importance. I still believe that today and want to have the opportunity to instill that belief in the young people of our community. I graduated as Christine Kellar from Houston High School in 1989 as valedictorian. I went on to Wittenberg University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics in 1993. I continued on with my education at Miami University, where I graduated with a Master of Science degree in mathematics in 1996. Since graduation, I have been in the engineering field of software development and continue in this field today. During this time, I continued my passion for education by teaching math and computer science courses at Miami University, Otterbein University, Wright State University Lake Campus, and Edison State Community College. As a result of these opportunities, I understand what goes into the education process, what is involved with creating lesson plans, and the effort it takes to grade a student’s work. With my mathematical background and my current career choice, I also have inherent analytical and problem solving skills which I can use to help determine different solutions to issues that arise.”

Mowery: “I am of the belief that I am no better than anyone else. I can only speak to my qualifications and experiences. With that being said, I have three plus years of experience and this is not a position that I take lightly at all. My heart is fully committed to this office and making sure that I am doing everything I can to ask the tough questions to ensure that we are doing everything we can to prepare the students for life after high school. I do feel this experience has been a benefit that has allowed me to understand how the district works and has prepared me to help lead our district in navigating any potential challenges that may arise in an ever-changing landscape. “

Clark: “Experience, knowledge of school law, business background, history of the district, knowledge of the school funding model, access to elected state officials.”

Grandey: “I am a former teacher and have the understanding of education. I graduated from Sidney High School in 1970. Received my BA in Elementary Education 1-8 and Preschool / Kindergarten certificate from Morehead State University in 1974. And my Masters in Elementary Administration from the University of Dayton in 1991. My passion for education and the desire to instill this passion for younger generations.”

What ideas/plans would you have to increase the district’s report card score?

Mowery: “This is something that I feel the administration and staff continue to work on. There is never a simple answer or a one size fits all plan, but our district has been willing to try new things and implement new programs to reach those students who may need the extra help. I’ve been privileged to have been a part of some of those discussions and decisions and we hope to see continued success in these areas.”

Clark: “Provide additional educational opportunities for those students that require assistance, ensure that teachers and students have the correct tools to prepare for testing; continue to work with staff to improve the 4 year graduation rate.”

Grandey: “More focus on reading. Skills can be learned if a student is a strong reader.”

Helman: “I would like to visit the school and observe different classrooms. I would like to talk to the teachers and find out what is working and what is not working and find out what suggestions that they have. Our teachers are on the front lines working with our students every day. They have the most knowledge as to which students are struggling the most and why, as well as what they need in order to be fully equipped to reach each student in their classroom. I feel that our teachers have an abundance of knowledge on this topic and I would like to just sit down with them and listen to their thoughts. I would also like to reach out to other schools similar to ours to find out what is working and not working for them – both schools that have higher and lower ratings than us. I have many years of analytical and problem solving skills that I would use in order to collect and compile all of the research from all of these areas and present it to the board so that we can discuss this and form a plan and move forward to help increase our school’s rating.”

What role do you feel parents should play in classroom activities and as a volunteer in the district?

Clark: “Parents are essential to the success of any district by ensuring that their children are prepared to learn. Positive attitudes at home tend to create positive attitudes at school. Parent volunteers are a critical key in creating a positive team environment whether it is a band, athletic or academic event.”

Grandey: “So very important. It takes ‘many’ to raise a child. Strong parents, supported by family, friends, churches, schools and community. Everyone needs to be involved and be willing to help. A child has so many outside pressures that work against families trying to teach children right from wrong and trying to give them a sense of the American dream.”

Helman: “I know that there are many parents in our district who have full time jobs and are not able to volunteer within the district during normal school hours. I would, however, encourage any parent who is willing to help out in our classrooms and in our school in any way that the teachers and administration need. I have always felt that parents should be encouraged to be a part of their child’s education. I very much appreciate the open houses and orientations that are offered by the school to meet teachers and visit classrooms at the beginning of the school year. Not every school offers this. In fact, some schools don’t even invite or allow parents to come to orientation before school begins in the fall, and therefore, the parents do not even meet their child’s teachers until November when parent teacher conferences roll around. I have always felt that young people perform better in anything they do when they have the support and encouragement of their parents and family, so I would very much encourage parents volunteering in classroom activities and as volunteers in the district.”

Mowery: “While volunteer programs for parents can be good opportunities, the main support for classroom activities needs to start at home by staying in touch with what their children are doing and how they are performing in the classroom. The support at home from parents is a key component to reinforcing the strong educational foundations that the teachers are building in the classroom.”

What kind of relationship would you develop as a board member with the parents in the community?

Grandey: “To be part of the bridge bringing two sides together to work for the best for our children. Many of the parents, staff and administrators of H.H. are my former students. I am so very proud of them!”

Helman: “I would like to represent all members of the community, including parents. I would like them to be able to contact me to voice their opinions about issues that they feel are important so that the board can discuss these issues in detail. I feel that parents have insight from watching their children move through the education process. The board should be open to listening to parents and members of the community in order to ultimately benefit the education students receive at Hardin-Houston school. In summary, I would like to have an open door policy with all members of the community.”

Mowery: “I have tried to be very open not only to parents but any community member who has questions or concerns. I have talked with parents and community members about various topics and am always willing to point them in the correct direction if they need help or just listen to their concerns.”

Clark: “I am active in the community – I am 4-H adviser, a religion teacher at Sts. Peter and Paul and I regularly attending various school events throughout the year – I make myself available to our students and parents. I also voluntarily drive bus for the district on an as needed basis – and paid for my training and license fees myself to help the district get through some of our busing issues.”

Salaries of teachers and other staff members are always a concern. What do you think the district needs to do to keep the staff members from leaving for better paying jobs?

Helman: “There are multiple factors that make up job satisfaction, as with any job. The two that are most important, in my opinion, are feeling valued and salary. I think that Hardin-Houston needs to offer competitive salaries to our teachers and our staff members so that they do not need to have a second job and that they are not tempted to leave because another school district offers them a higher salary. I feel that teachers should be paid reasonable and fair salaries so that they can concentrate on teaching our students. I would also want to ensure that our teachers feel valued for their efforts, because they have one of the most important positions in this nation. They are teaching our children to be our leaders of tomorrow. Everyone performs better at their job, no matter what it is or who they are, when they feel valued and feel that they are making a difference. They already are making a difference. I want our teachers to know how important they are to the school district and to the board.”

Mowery: “One of the main focuses needs to be to make sure all staff members feel appreciated. Appreciation sprouts loyalty and trust which is vital to retaining the wonderful employees that we have along with promoting teamwork that creates new ideas. I continue to look for new ways to connect with our staff and address their concerns and build strong relationships.”

Clark: “At Hardin-Houston we are quite fortunate in having an excellent staff that is committed to our students and the district; everyone works very hard to ensure our students success. I will continue to work towards having a competitive salary scale in comparison with the other county schools.”

Grandey: “Better/higher salaries and positive environment. The teachers need the school administration and parents to show their support. We need a positive for greater learning.”

Other comments:

Clark: “It has been an honor to represent the district for the past 2 terms as a member of the Hardin-Houston School Board, something I take very seriously.”

Helman: “I feel that I would be an ideal candidate for the Hardin-Houston school board. I have the knowledge, skills, and motivation to help create a unified team. I would like the opportunity to represent the community, the school board, the administration, the staff, and the students with my passion for education to make Hardin-Houston school the best it can be. I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 7.”

Mowery: “I have had the opportunity to be a part of this school and community in a variety of ways over the years. I have invested my time and energy into these activities, not for recognition or personal gain, but to try and give back to it what those before me have done for myself and others. I am thankful for these experiences and I look forward to continuing to give back.”





By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.