COVENTRY TWP.  During their first meeting of the new school year, teachers in the Coventry Local School District were informed that Superintendent Russell "Rusty" Chaboudy would be retiring at the end of December.

Chaboudy, who came to Coventry 10 years ago from Barberton, directed the school district through some hard economic times and academic difficulties, but during his tenure the district was able to get a new levy passed and funding for a new high school. In addition, Coventry was able to achieve state recognition with an "Excellence with Distinction" on the state report card.

"While my last official day will be Dec. 31, my last actual day will be Oct. 27", said Chaboudy. "I will take comp and vacation time that is coming to me. My assistant, Lisa Blough, will serve as interim superintendent until the board names a replacement. I am positive Lisa will insure a smooth transition of operations when she takes over."

Chaboudy began his career in 1979 at Woodridge where he taught and coached. After being forced to give up his position as part of a reduction in force (RIF) that affected many school districts during that time period, he moved on to Norton and later Cuyahoga Falls, where he again went through the RIF procedure. From there, he moved on to Rittman, where he caught the eye of Superintendent John Haschek. When Haschek took over the reins of leadership at Green Local Schools he brought Chaboudy with him as Green Middle School assistant principal. Once in Green, Chaboudy moved up the leadership ladder, becoming the principal of Kleckner Elementary, then Green Intermediate and finally back to Green Middle School as principal.

When Green began its search for a new superintendent Chaboudy was considered one of the top candidates for the job, but the school board decided to go with an outside choice. Chaboudy then moved on to Barberton as assistant superintendent until his current position at Coventry opened up.

"This has been a wonderful career," said Chaboudy. "During my 39 1/2 years in education, I have been around great students, teachers, board members and parents in every school district I was in.

"I think my successes can be traced to two keys things. I was employed in a lot of districts and saw a lot of diverse situations. I saw this disparity and realized that the playing field in education is not level. No two school districts are alike and this experience gave me a great background. Perhaps the most import was my wife, Kelly, who was an elementary teacher. As most administrators are prone to do, I would come up with what I thought was a 'great idea' and would run it past her. When I got a look like, 'Are you crazy?' or 'You really think this will work,' it made me rethink a lot of what I thought was a good idea. Kelly really kept me grounded in reality and I owe her a lot." 

His time at Coventry "was the most difficult but rewarding of my career," Chaboudy said.

"The difficulty for me was reaching a small group of people who had no vested interest in our school system," he said. "What really bothers me is that people talk about how education is so important to everything, but don't support it at the local and state level."

In a career that spanned nearly four decades, Chaboudy said a number of things really stood out.

"Unfortunately during my career, 11 of my students passed away, and I will always remember them," he said. "Two dates that I will never forget were the mass shootings at Columbine and the 9/11 tragedy. These changed our world. One high point in my career was being principal at Green Middle School where I was so fortunate to work with an amazing and dedicated staff, along with great parents and kids. And here at Coventry I was so proud when we recognized by the state with the 'Excellence with Distinction' award and we were able to pass a levy to build our new high school."

With retirement looking Chaboudy squarely in the face, he doesn't have any immediate plans for the future, aside from spending time with his wife, Kelly, and family.

"I would like to take some time off and figure out what I would like to do," he said. "I will be 62 when I retire and I would like to be able to travel while I am still in good health."