By Don Rush
Suffice to say school districts across the state and nation have gone through hard times in light of Covid-19 shutdowns. In Oxford, the day-to-day operations were further complicated with the Nov. 30, 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School.
Ken Weaver, 56, knew all that when accepted the job as Superintendent of Oxford Community Schools. In March, he replaced Tim Throne. Since then, many of the sometimes weekly school board meetings he has sat through and listened to students and parents healing and angry complain to the board and the administration – sometimes hours at a time. Through it all, he has stood firm, resolute. And, he has learned much.
“It’s been non-stop since November 30,” he said recently during a visit to the Oxford Leader office.
As superintendent he oversees a district with about 800 staff and over 7,100 students (1,800 of those at the high school alone). His priorities have not changed since he started, student safety, their social/emotional and mental health and to improve a culture of support for students and staff.
“We want to make sure every kid has opportunities to grow and improve based on their individual abilities and interests. We want to fortify and strengthen them,” he said.
He has also had to spend many hours with legislators in Lansing to make sure state funding finds its way to the district so they can implement new safety procedures and to make sure mental health care is available to students and staff.
“I have not done that before. It was quite the learning experience,” he said. “I really learned how politics work. It was challenging, but in the end they (legislators) hearts were in the right place. They may have different opinions on how to get somewhere, but political parties aside they were there for us.”
He said this summer the district is partnering with different groups and organizations to keep students engaged and ready for the beginning of a new school year in the fall. “We want to keep students active and want to give them support throughout the summer,” he said, adding the district will keep parents posted for summer volunteer opportunities.
Weaver and his wife Cari have four children. Two have graduated from Oxford schools and two more are current high school students. “We love this community. We love the district and I always saw myself in this capacity (as superintendent) to be able to give back to the community and continue some of the great work we have started.”
Weaver joined the district in 2003. He has served as assistant principal of Oxford High School, principal of Oxford Middle School and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. He was promoted to deputy superintendent in 2018. He holds an education specialist degree in school administration from Oakland University and a masters in educational leadership from Brigham Young University.
Through all the public criticisms, he believes the community can heal and look forward to a better day, “With love, we can get through this together,” he said.
To parents he shared, “I want them to know we love and care for their kids. And, we are working as hard as we can to take care of them and the community. We are continually looking for ways to find and improve the security and safety of your children. We will continue to prepare them for life after high school.”
To students, he said, “Our staff shows up every day because we love you. We love to interact with you. We value each and everyone of you. We will always be here for you. You’re the reason we went into education.”
While some have called him too strict, maybe it’s his old-school values and beliefs that has kept him moving forward . . . that and his family.
“Being home and with my family is therapy for me. I have to remember as we work to make the community heal, I still have a wife and four children and I need to help them heal. They have felt the trauma, too and they too are in the process of healing. I know not everyone is going to agree with every decision I or the school board makes, but we are all going through this together. I tell myself to take it one day at a time.”
Sometime this summer he hopes to take some time off and spend time with his family. “I don’t need a lot of entertainment. I need being with my family.”