Honored as the 2014 Ohio Superintendent of the Year by the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the night belonged to Westlake Supt. of Schools Dr. Dan Keenan, Jr. at ceremonies held in the rotunda of the new Westlake High School Monday.
But it was a line from Dr. Keenan’s father, Dr. Daniel J. Keenan, Sr., that offered the most important message of the evening.
“Education,” said Dr. Keenan, Sr., “Makes all the other professions possible.”
The statement underscored the theme of Dan Keenan, Jr’s. tenure as Superintendent of Westlake Schools, a position he has held since 2007.
Westlake Schools are all about “focusing on our kids and educating for excellence,” said Dr. Keenan, Jr.
The district’s tradition was underscored by Dr. Keenan’s spot at the podium under the archway of the old Red Brick Building, an architectural keepsake that has been incorporated into the Westlake High rotunda.
Dr. Keenan was nominated for the Superintendent of the Year award by outgoing Board of Education President Thomas Mays last year.
Mays reminisced about the interview process when Westlake Schools conducted a search for a new superintendent in the mid-2000’s. “We interviewed Dan pretty early in the process, and I knew then that we had found our man,” said Mays.
BOE President Carol Winter praised Keenan’s leadership. She said his example encourages others to become leaders within their own circles of responsibility.
“He has done exactly what we knew he would do when we hired him,” Mays said of Keenan. “He has always been available, always present and always willing to take into consideration the concerns and suggestions of the community. There are 600-plus school districts in Ohio that would be lucky to have him leading their students’ education.”
For Keenan’s dad, it is Dr. Keenan’s spirit of civility that stands out. “He will respect your position even if it is the antithesis of what he believes,” said Dr. Keenan, Sr.
“He empowers all of us on the leadership team, staff members in the entire organization, community members and students to be leaders in their own right; strengthening all aspects of the school district,” added Winter.
“Most importantly, Dr. Keenan makes our district’s mission, ‘We Education for Excellence: Empowering all students …’ a daily reality; focusing not merely on the excellence but on providing that excellence to all Westlake students.”
Dr. Keenan was honored at a Dec. 17 luncheon in Columbus. He will now compete for the American Association of School Administrators National Superintendent of the Year title.
Dr. Keenan joined the Westlake Schools in 2007. Prior to that he served as assistant superintendent for Kenston Local Schools, a high school administrator and director of personnel for Maple Heights City Schools, a teacher and director of guidance for Steubenville City Schools, and a junior high and elementary school teacher in the state of Indiana.
He earned his Ph.D. in education administration from Cleveland State University and completed graduate work for principal and assistant superintendent certification at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned his master’s in education administration with a gifted education emphasis, as well as his bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a secondary science certification, from Purdue University.
He comes from a family of educators – his father was a superintendent, his brother, Dr. Charles Keenan, is superintendent of the Maple Height school District, his mother was a university department head for undergraduate education and his wife, Heather, is the gifted coordinator for Aurora City Schools.
“I am proud to say we are a family of educators,” said Dr. Dan Keenan, Sr. as ceremonies concluded.
Ceremonies included comments from several Westlake Schools leaders, a lively video presentation featuring congratulatory messages from students and teachers, and even the presentation of a personalized Westlake sports jersey by WHS Assistant Principal Dave Schindler.