People stand outside waiting for the beginning of a ribbon cutting ceremony at Hillsdale Local Schools' new facility on July 18, 2023. The facility's been a work in progress since a community meeting was held about it on March 13, 2018. Credit: Mariah Thomas, Report For America Corps Member

JEROMESVILLE — There’s a lot that’s new around Hillsdale Local Schools this year.

As students returned to classes on Sept. 5, they came back to a brand-new facility. There’s a new face at the helm of the district too, with Cathy Trevathan replacing longtime superintendent Steve Dickerson.

Trevathan said she looks forward to starting beginning her new position.

“I like new things and new challenges, and I felt that I was really ready to be a superintendent,” Trevathan said.

A fresh face

Trevathan’s selection as Hillsdale’s superintendent was formalized in March.

Dickerson served as Hillsdale Local Schools’ top leader for a decade. He oversaw the entire project to build the new facility. 

Trevathan comes to the district from a stint as Little Miami Local Schools’ high school principal. She began her career in the Peace Corps before working as an English teacher in Arizona. 

Trevathan jumped back to Ohio as a special education teacher, working in multiple schools and doing a stint as an MD/ED director in Huber Heights before going to Little Miami. She was in that district for a decade. 

She signed a three-year contract with Hillsdale Local Schools, according to a message posted on the school’s site welcoming her to the district.

In an Aug. 22 interview with Ashland Source, Trevathan said she came to Hillsdale Local Schools because she likes new challenges. She added the small district was appealing to her. 

“I want to still be in classrooms and involved with curriculum and kids, and some of the larger districts you don’t get the chance to do that,” Trevathan said. “Hillsdale, when I came up to interview, just felt like a really good place.

“We felt at home — I did, professionally and personally, and my family did as well.”

Her two children will be attending Hillsdale Local Schools this year as well. 

Trevathan’s biggest goal for the year is ensuring her staff settles into Hillsdale’s new facility.

Facility chronicles

Conversations about the new facility started in 2017 under Dickerson. The district ended up using funds from the Rover pipeline to fund the new building. 

That pipeline, a 711-mile natural gas one, goes through the state of Ohio, including part of Ashland County. Local government entities — like school districts — earn tax revenue from it. 

At a walk-through of the new facility in July, Dickerson said the district paid for the school almost completely with those funds, without asking the taxpayers’ money. 

The board of education voted at its August meeting to name the gymnasium at the new facility after Dickerson to honor his work on the project.  

Trevathan and her staff spent the summer transitioning into the new building. 

“I know the kids are very excited about being here,” Trevathan said. “It’s been fun, some of the stuff like the big open house.

“Also, we’ve got staff that’s coming from three different buildings, so learning to work as one staff and one administrative team, those are all goals of that building transition.”

She added that staff would know more about how the new facility worked once students got back into the building. 

“Every day is something new and something different,” Trevathan said.

Back into the swing of things

Hillsdale Local Schools will continue focusing on the science of reading this year for its literacy curriculum. 

That science of reading approach is one all the public districts in Ashland County employ, and one the state budget provided over $160 million in funding for in the biennial budget. 

It also has a new math curriculum, according to Trevathan. 

The district will have its next board of education meeting on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. 

Even with the weighty task of moving into the new building and starting a new job, Trevathan said Hillsdale has been an amazing place to come into. 

“In some ways it’s hard to be transitioning into a new building being a new person, but in some ways it’s easy because everything’s new to a lot of people with the new building,” Trevathan said.

“We’ll know more when we get kids here. It’s going to be very exciting to get kids here and have kids here every day and get back to what we do and why we do it.”

The Education section is brought to you by Ashland Family YMCA.

This independent, local reporting provided by our Report for America Corps members is brought to you in part by the generous support of the Ashland County Community Foundation.

Ashland Source's Report for America corps member. She covers education and workforce development, among other things, for Ashland Source. Thomas comes to Ashland Source from Montana, where she graduated...