ANSONIA—PJ Burgett is halfway through his first year as superintendent of Ansonia Local School District and is loving it.
He started his duties in August, succeeding Jim Atchley, who is now superintendent at Darke County Educational Service Center.
How has it been so far? “Oh, it’s great,” remarked Burgett. “I’ve been doing really well in Darke County since 2010. I was at Bradford and Franklin Monroe and they are districts comparable to this district. I am hoping to be here quite a while.”
However, he admitted that before he came to Darke County 13 years ago he couldn’t tell anyone where Darke County was on the map because he never heard of it. But he’s here now and is enjoying it.
“This district [Ansonia] is in great shape,” he continued. “Jim Atchley did a great job. I’ve been so lucky with the people I’ve met over the years. The people here…it’s a small world with all of the connections in activities.”
Burgett reports there are 710 students at Ansonia and 107 staff members. The high school/junior high school principal is Jim Robson and Ashley Fourman, at the elementary school.
“I”ve worked with them before and highly respect them,” Burgett said.
Members of the school board are President Daryl Riffle, Vice President Ron Barga II, Clarence Kammer, Joey Schmitmeyer and Tonya Wietholter.
“I was really happy with the test scores recently,” Burgett pointed out. “The staff is incredible here. They care about the kids and go the extra mile. And, we’ve done safety projects around the building.”
Burgett, who became interested in coming to Ansonia after hearing about the opening, said he loves teaching and coaching, but loves his new venture even more.
“I have a lot of years in education,” he said. “I went to OSU in nursing and, in the second year, switched over after I started coaching at the time and loved it.”
A 1988 graduate of West Jefferson, Ohio, High School, he studied the superintendent and curriculum and instruction program in Dayton in June 2019; and at Ohio State University, was in the policy and leadership program, earned his master of education and his bachelor of science degree. Then he earned five-year licenses in professional superintendent and principal grades 5-12, which are valid through 2024.
“I am a lifelong learner, he added. “I am passionate about education and work to encourage students, staff and families to continue to find their love to learn. I look for ways to encourage families to take an active role in their child’s education creating a team relationship between home and school.”
Burgett himself was active in football when in high school.
“To be an athletic director was an opportunity which opened up early, but I realized I didn’t want to do it forever,” he said. “All of this was driven by the kids.
The son of Paul and Susie Burgett of West Jefferson, he indicated his father was a pastor at Harvest Chapel Church of Christ, a Christian Union denomination, and retired this past year. His mother is in education.
PJ got married in 2003 to Mindy, whom he met at OSU. She teaches physical education at Bradford, where their children, (Brick, a senior; Piper, a seventh-grader; Joey, a fifth-grader; and Lennox, a second-grader) attend school.
In his spare time, Burgett enjoys home restorations, playing with his children and following their activities as well as various other outdoor action.
“All of my kids are active and we make trips to West Virginia every year and to The Beach,” he said.
How does he juggle his busy schedule?
“I just keep going to the next thing and keep detailed in my calendar,” he replied.
Burgett said he is actively engaged in the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA) and will serve as the Zone 3 director until July.
He has also been a part of the Conference Planning Committee, serving as mentor for the Administrative Mentor Program to new principals and was appointed to the legislative committee for multiple years.
In the two districts he had already served before Ansonia, he worked to create pathways for students to graduate with both high school diploma and associate degrees.
He continued to work with Tamala Markey and the Darke county Ohio Economic Development team to educate students and provide local businesses with opportunities to promote careers in Darke county.
“I seek to improve student, staff and program effectiveness through observation and evaluation, planning and implementing of professional development,” Burgett pointed out. “To strengthen our relationships with our community we intituted our in-Flight Service and Seniors Serving Seniors service programs. As a building leader through Race to the TOP (RttT), Ohio Improvement Process (OIP), and COVID return-to-school protocols, I have gained invaluable experience with strategic planning, programs/ initiatives to create a safe learning environment, improve teacher and student performances and tools to provide students and staff with targeted intervention strategies.”
Burgett, a health and physical education teacher, taught at Silverado High School in Victorville, Calif., for 2 and a half years; then went to Grove City Christian Middle School in Ohio from 2006 to 07.
His administrative experience began at Bradford Exempted Village School District, first serving as junior/high school dean of students from 2011-15, and then becoming the junior high/high school principal until 2015. His next stop, as noted before, was Franklin Monroe, where he was middle school/high school principal until he came to Ansonia.
Burgett was also an Employee Discipline in an Education Environment Trained Certified Restraint Trainer; served on the Darke County Economic Development Advisory Committee; the MVCTC Business Academy and FFA Ag Advisory Committee; and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administration Association Resident Athletic Administrator Certification.
Burgett has earned quite a number of honors in his educational experience. He was the 2020 MVCTC National Technical Director Honored Educator; the 2019 Ranked Highest Local Percentage of Students Earning Dual Enrollment Credit in Pitsburg; the 2017 MVCTC Friend of BPA Award; in Englewood; 2011 Honorary Inductee of the Bradford National Honor Society; the 2004 Desert Sky League “Major of the Year” award and co-presenter at the 2003 AAHPERD Conference in March 2003 in Philadelphia Pa.