Dr. Steve Disney (right) meets community members prior to the Aug. 9 special meeting of the River Valley Board of Education.

THREE OAKS — The River Valley Board of Education voted 7-0 on Monday, Aug. 9, to offer the position of district superintendent to Dr. Steven Disney.

The board interviewed finalists Disney (former Superintendent of the River Forest Community School Corp. in Hobart, Indiana, and current interim superintendent at the East Chicago district) and Dr. Sean Wightman (currently Dowagiac Middle School principal) during a special meeting preceded by a chance for members of the community to meet with the two candidates in separate classrooms.

Both men opened their time before the board by making a presentation on Procedures to Increase Enrollment, followed by separate question-and-answer sessions. Board members asked a series of questions, and several more queries were submitted in written form by members of the public in attendance (some also filled out surveys on the two candidates).

During the special meeting Disney stressed his belief in the “Three Rs” – Relationships (“We’re all in the people business, so it begins there, establishing those relationships with our students, with our staff members, with our parents, our community.”); Relevance (“Kids want learning to be relevant, our staff wants their professional development to be relevant and thought out.”); and Rigor (“How we develop the higher-order thinking skills and get our kids to analyzing and the synthesis and evaluation”).

Disney also said the four-letter word he hates the worst is “can’t,” adding that one of his favorite things to do is read “The Little Engine That Could” to early elementary pupils.

“It’s just a great story, and that’s what we want to instill in our kids and our faculty together – I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

As of Aug. 10 Board of Education President David Whitlow was involved in contract negotiations with Disney.

During the Aug. 9 special meeting Disney said his availability to start as superintendent at River Valley would be mid too late fall. He previously (2007-2013) was superintendent of the Oregon-Davis School Corporation in Hamlet, Ind. His time at River Forest was from 2014 to May of this year.

Disney and Wightman were chosen as finalists after board members interviewed them and two other candidates on Aug. 2 and 3.

The RV Board of Education accepted the resignation of former Superintendent Douglas Scott Bojanich (effective July 31) during a May special meeting. Andrea van Der Laan is currently serving as the district’s interim superintendent.

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