After launching his career with the Southwest Local School District, Davis Baker is finishing here too. Baker, principal of William Henry Harrison High School, has announced that the current school year will be his last.
In his 41-year career, Baker worked for 17 years in the Southwest Local Schools -- as a teacher, wrestling coach, assistant principal, principal and district administrator.
After his initial stint at Harrison High School and Harrison Junior School, Baker returned two more times to Harrison High School. In between, he worked at seven other high schools, mostly in Ohio. Baker has been instrumental in making Harrison High School a leader when it comes to offering students the opportunity to earn college credits. Twenty-two Harrison teachers have qualified as college instructors, enabling them to teach college-level courses. Without even leaving the school grounds, Harrison students can take college-level courses through the Ohio College Credit Plus program or by taking Advanced Placement courses. In some cases, students have saved more than $50,000 in college tuition.
“With his leadership style, Davis continually sets up and supports folks for success -- from students to teachers,” said Superintendent John C. Hamstra. “He has elevated Harrison High School and the Southwest Local School District on so many levels. We will miss his leadership a great deal.”
Under Baker’s guidance, the high school has repeatedly received national recognition. Twice, it made Newsweek Magazine’s list of America’s Top Public Schools. Three times it received national recognition from High Schools That Work, the nation’s largest school improvement initiative for high school leaders and teachers.
In 2016, educators from six nations toured the school to learn about its emphasis on integrating technology into the curriculum. The visitors saw the school’s robotics lab, biomedical lab and other high-tech programs as part of a State Department international leadership program designed to highlight best practices in U.S. schools.
Baker gives the credit to his staff, not just at the high school but across the school district. “We really have a wonderful, dedicated staff from top to bottom,” he said. “Good administrators know the secret to success is to surround yourself with good people and let them do the things they do so well. I can provide some direction but they’re the ones who make it happen.”
He was a finalist for Principal of the Year from the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators and received the Ohio Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators.
In addition to Harrison, he has worked at Talawanda High School and Middle School in Oxford, Ohio; Buckeye Valley High School in Delaware, Ohio; Edgewood Middle School in Wooster, Ohio; Triway High School in Wooster; Glynn Academy High School in Brunswick, Georgia; and North Union Local Schools in Richwood, Ohio.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Malone University in Canton, Ohio and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He was inducted into Malone’s Athletic Hall of Fame for wrestling.
A hiring team – with parents, students, teachers, support staff, administrators and board members – have been working to select a replacement. A recommendation is expected to be made to the Board of Education on March 16.
After retiring, Baker, 63, will work as a consultant to the Butler County Educational Service Center, mentoring principals and leading professional development programs. His wife, Kate, has been a big supporter of Harrison High, regularly attending school shows and athletic events with her husband.