Fleming back after severe injury

Though the arrival of spring has been a highly-anticipated event for most in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Marietta City Schools Superintendent Harry Fleming has even more reason to celebrate after returning to his post in March after an accident last year led to a long recovery and absence.

It was the last days of October 2013 when Fleming was injured from a severe fall, in which time the district appointed Marietta Middle School Principal Will Hampton as acting superintendent.

Fleming, who has now served in the Marietta district for more than 30 total years, said he was happy to get back to work and pick up where he left off.

Staff say they are glad to have Fleming back, and administrators have said they are happy that his return followed a smooth period of operating the district in his absence.

“I’m glad to get back in and out of the house,” said Fleming, who has been working from home since December, rotating time back in the office off and on before finally returning full-time in early March.

Fleming worked in the district for 28 years beginning in 1976, then spent seven years as superintendent of Belpre City Schools, eventually returning post-retirement to work as the superintendent in Marietta. He is now in his third consecutive year.

“Right now I’m just trying to work on next year, as it is coming up soon,” he said. “We know of the retirees in the district and we’ve been working on securing replacements; all the usual things for the end of the year.”

Fleming also came straight back to work on the days-to-hours transition, where Ohio schools will transition into a schedule based on a minimum requirement of hours.

“I’ve spent a lot of time since December on the telephone, emailing and trying to solve the problems of the district while at home recovering,” Fleming said.

Still using a neck brace and unable to drive, Fleming said he has been relying on other administrators and family to make sure he gets everywhere he needs to be. He hopes to be fully recovered sometime in May.

Hampton served for about four months as acting superintendent until Fleming returned full-time, an appointment that administrators agreed was highly effective.

“(Hampton) kept stability in the system when we needed it most, and was good at communicating and always willing to take advice,” said Don Atkins, a member of the board of education. “It made the transition much easier.”

Hampton, who holds a license that allows him to serve as a superintendent, said he was grateful to have the experience.

“I’m glad he is back on his feet and but I’m also glad to be back in my building,” he said. “One full-time job is enough.”

Fleming and Hampton have been collaborating extensively throughout Fleming’s absence and continue to work on business as a team.

“He has really allowed me to continue in projects and some of the things that were already rolling so that I can stay connected to what I started, rather than just walking away,” Hampton said. “It’s been an incredible opportunity to learn another level of education.”

Hampton said though it was an immense responsibility, he thinks that the experience has given him a new perspective on how decisions are made, and knows it will make him a better administrator and would definitely make him a better teacher if he returned to the classroom.

“During his tenure, Harry has been a proponent of a strong administrative team,” said Bill Lee, principal of Marietta High School. “It was the camaraderie that kept us together and keep us solidified throughout his absence.”

The district, like many in the area, has been undergoing plenty of changes in regards to calamity days, new state testing, the Race to the Top initiative and new career-based programs, all that Fleming said he is just continuing to work on.

“We’ve got an outstanding team, many who were instrumental in keeping it all running,” Fleming said. “Now I’m just getting back to business.”