By Ann Leach
Growing up in Indiana gave Dr. Eric Findley an early look at leadership and mentors to admire. “In Indiana, basketball is kind of a big thing, and everyone followed the Indiana Hoosiers,” he said. “Bobby Knight was the coach. And just like everyone at the time, we admired Coach Knight. When I was in high school, I watched older kids play and they became role models. I loved to play and be around the games I loved.”
Attending athletic events as a family was a tradition, and Findley knew early on he wanted to be part of the action. “I went to college so I could coach,” he said. “And I learned I loved coaching, but I also loved teaching.”
So, he put his two loves together, and after teaching elementary physical education and coaching varsity football and basketball, he earned his Master of Education in Administration from William Woods University in 2002. Flash forward to today and his role as superintendent finds him relying on the same coaching and teaching premises that formed the foundation of his leadership style.
He feels fortunate for the team he has as he works to manage the business of the district and support the staff that comprises it.
“Business is what it is and that cannot be changed,” Findley said. “But personally, I want to treat everyone professionally and as a friend. We have a great staff and, unfortunately, I do not know them all personally, but I can treat them all with kindness and respect. We cannot do the business part of this job if we have issues with the teaching part. We have some of the best teachers in all of our buildings. They make my job much easier.”
Still, there are many needs for students today. Findley identified some of the most urgent as “direction and a sense of love in their lives. Students want to know what the rules are and they will adjust to that. They are no different than the rest of us; they want to see what their limits are and adjust properly.”
And as Findley and the team work to support the students in adjusting, there is still the matter of discipline. Findley said he’s noticed some changes in that area since he first began working in the field.
“It’s the types of discipline we deal with now that has changed,” he said. “It used to be about plagiarism, tardiness and fights. Now it’s about vaping, cell phone usage and sending inappropriate pictures on those phones.”
Findley is not letting these concerns deter him from his district goals for this school year.
“My goal is for all students to graduate, for teachers to give every student the tools to be successful in the real world and to create a culture that finds teachers happy and working to do their best but also for the students to thrive in the great environment we are providing.”
When he’s not doing that, you will find him hunting outdoors, in the shop working on classic cars or on the golf course. Sundays find him with wife, Jill, and their young adult sons, Tyler and Levi, playing music together at their church.
“McDonald County is a great place to be. Our motto is ‘Every child, every day, whatever it takes.’ Our staff lives by this and as long as we continue to think in this manner, our students will become successful.” ~ Dr. Eric Findley