BY JOHN A. DARNELL JR.
Mr. Terry Samuels, former principal at West Blvd. Elementary School and Center Middle School, stepped down this June as an athletic academic advisor at Youngstown State University, ending a career in education that spanned a half-century.
Mr. Samuels began that career in 1961-62 when he taught sixth grade in the Boardman Local Schools.
In 1965-66, he served as principal of Milton and Pricetown Schools, and the following year became principal at Dobbins Elementary School in Poland. The following year he served as principal of the Poland Union School, before returning to the Boardman Local School District where he served as principal at West Blvd. Elementary School from 1970 to 1991.
From the 1991-92 school year through 1994, he served as principal of Center Middle School, before retiring from the Boardman System.
But he wasn’t done with education, and from 1994 through 2004, Mr. Samuels was employed as a bus driver with Boardman Local Schools.
That job didn’t seem to satisfy his desire to serve as an educator, so from 1994 through this June, he was an academic athletic advisor at YSU.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better career,” Mr. Samuels said this week, adding it will bother him to leave education.
“It has been my whole life,” he said.
The lifelong educator was known in Boardman for not mincing his words when it came to issues confronting him.
He described his tenure at West Blvd. Elementary School as “absolutely the best. Our staff made the difference and we had a great relationship, able to adjust our curriculum and activities to meet the needs of our students.”
At Center Middle, Mr. Samuels said serving as the administrator of a large school with a diverse student and teacher population was “quite a ride.”
After serving for some 34 years as a teacher and principal. Mr. Samuels said the change to a school bus driver was welcomed.
“I never really had any trouble on my bus. The kids and their parents should me respect, and in turn, I should them respect,” he said.
“I loved being a school bus driver. And I’ll tell you something...The parents and their children were so kind. I couldn’t believe it,” said Mr. Samuels.
One day following his retirement as a middle school principal, Mr. Samuels said a neighbor, Jim Tressel, head grid coach at Youngstown State University, suggested they take a ride to the university. On the way, Coach Tressel suggested Mr. Samuels could join the YSU team as an athletic academic advisor.
“I accepted that job and for the next 17 years loved being at YSU,” Mr. Samuels said, noting the college kids weren’t much different that elementary and middle school students.
“They are seek love, support and a sense of dignity. They want guidance,” he said, noting at YSU “the big thing was to get the kids through college with a degree. And we did that.
“During my time at Youngstown, we had a graduation rate of at least 93 per cent every year among our student-athletes.”
After a half-century in public education, Mr. Samuels believes local school districts need more local control over their systems.
“The federal government, for the amount of money it spends, hasn’t been very effective; and in local school districts, teaching to state standards takes away from the creativity teachers have. They too often are too concerned they have to meet those standards,” Mr. Samuels said.
Terry and his wife, Marilyn, celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary on June 13, returning from a trip to Texas where their son, Capt. Mark Samuels, was installed as a commander of a U.S. Naval Reserve Center. A daughter, Lynn, is a stay-at-home mother of three children in Columbus.
Mr. Samuels grew up on Leighton Ave. in Boardman and graduated from the Boardman Local Schools in 1957 under Supt. Irv Nisonger.
He went on to earn an undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University, and a master’s degree from Westminster College. That wasn’t quite enough to satisfy his academic appetite, so he did post-graduate work at The Kent State University, as well as Youngstown and Akron State Universities.
In a half-century, times have changed in education.
“You know,” Mr. Samuels said this week, “everyday while I was principal at West Blvd., we opened the school day with a reading from the Old Testament.”
Mr. Samuels and his wife are members of Trinity United Methodist Church in Youngstown where he is a lay speaker and chairman of the worship committee.