By Jeff Harrison
The Noble Local School District welcomed back one of its own with the naming of Justin Denius as the 14th superintendent of the district at Thursday’s meeting of the NLSD Board of Education.
“On behalf of the board, we are very excited to bring Mr. Denius on as the next superintendent of our district,” Ed McKee, President of the Noble Local Board of Education, said. “Mr. Denius has been a part of our district his entire life and has fulfilled many different roles from being an alumni to most recently being our previous high school principal.
“He has excelled in every position he was in here at Noble Local,” McKee said. “Justin knows our community, families, staff and, most importantly, our kids. He also knows and understands the direction we are going in as a district and as a board we want to continue.
“He has had the opportunity to be a part of all the efforts, growth, offerings, vision and collaboration,” McKee added, “and knows how to use all of his resources to keep us moving forward with what we need to fulfill the hopes and dreams of every student here at Noble Local.”
Denius said he was both appreciative of the opportunity and anxious to hit the ground running in his new role back at “home”.
“I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to do this job, especially here, not only because it’s a great opportunity, but it’s my home,” Denius, who officially takes the reins on March 1, said. “I truly bleed ‘green’ and I’m anxious to continue the great Zep tradition and focus on the future of our students.
“As Woody Hayes said, ‘You don’t get many chances to pay back what’s been done for you. Take them!,’” He added, “The people here did a lot for me and it’s time for me to pay it back.”
Denius, of course, is very familiar with how the district has advanced in recent years and he hopes to take it to the next level.
“There’s a ton of great things going on in the district and we have an opportunity to continue to be great and the school of choice,” he said. “One of my missions is to be the go-to school in the state when it comes to education and innovation and we plan to stay on the STEM train going forward. There’s no question in the 10 years I was principal we were that and there’s no reason for that to change.
“We want to be sure all of our students are prepared for their future whether that be to go to college, enter the military or go directly into the workforce,” he continued. “We want to have 100 percent of our students placed in internships or other opportunities and be able to connect to their ‘why’ upon graduation.”
Denius, a 1993 graduate of Shenandoah High School, received his bachelor’s degree from Marietta College and his master’s degree from Muskingum University.
He worked at Noble Local starting in 1997, serving as middle school teacher, transportation supervisor, food service director and athletic administrator before becoming the high school principal in 2012 and serving in that position for 10 years. He also was head baseball coach of the Zeps and an assistant football coach for several years.
Following the 2021-22 school year, Denius accepted a position in workforce development and career pathways with the Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center based in Zanesville.
At the MVESC, Denius’ role included overseeing the Business Advisory Council (BAC), Driver’s Education, STEM initiatives, workforce and economic development opportunities, career navigation/exploration, and any other initiatives that help students prepare for the “next step” after high school. Along with the East Central Ohio Educational Service Center and the Ohio Valley Educational Service Center, the Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center and Denius in particular established the Appalachian STEM Collaborative bringing a host of school districts, educators and other entities together to further emphasize STEM education in school.
“I have to say my going to the Muskingum Valley ESC really expanded my network of people,” he said. “We’ve been able to validate what we’re doing at Noble Local and bring that to the entire region.”
Denius resides in Pleasant City with his wife, Morgan, and their children Cade (currently attending Otterbein University) and Tate (a sixth grader at Shenandoah Middle School).
“As we approach the 100th anniversary of the crash of the USS Shenandoah,” offered the new superintendent, “ I’m proud to be the superintendent of the district because just like it says on the wall of our media center, ‘We’re proud of our past and excited for your (the students of Shenandoah) future!
“The bar here has been set at excellence and anything less than that is not good enough,” he added.