Every year, the Milford-Miami Township Chamber of Commerce holds the Dinner of Excellence, where our educators and support staff are honored. Since this was Dr. Farrell’s last Dinner of Excellence, the Chamber wanted to honor him for the excellence he has brought to the Milford School District over the past 9 years. They presented him with a crystal bowl to commemorate his time here.
Board president Gary Knepp taught class at UC-Clermont that night, so the Chamber asked me to say a few words in honor of Dr. Farrell. Below is the speech I gave that night. Once again, thank you, Dr. Farrell, for all you have done for our students and our community!
Being a superintendent of a relatively large district like Milford is hard enough in the best of times. A superintendent touches every aspect of a district – curriculum, staff, the budget, the board, the community … And of course all the requirements from the state (probably the hardest part of the job) … the list goes on and on. It takes a truly special person to be a successful superintendent in a strong, stable district.
However, when Dr. Farrell came to the Milford school district back in 2007, it was far from the best of times. We were broke; we had little leadership; the community was frustrated and screaming for change (and yes, as many of you know, I was one of those screaming the loudest). It was a no-win situation, and many – myself included – believed any superintendent crazy enough to step into our mess would not last long – that he or she would quickly burn out and take off running, without looking back.
Enter Bob Farrell. Quietly but doggedly, showing his brilliance in everything he touched, Bob went about rebuilding our district. Piece by piece, he put us back together again. He looked at everything. I believe he examined every single contract personally. He looked at our operations from every angle, and implemented new, innovative processes. He brought us to fiscal stability – we are now going to be able to go at least 6 years between levies – unheard of in Milford. Due to his commitment, honesty, and openness, Bob has created a culture of trust with staff members and within the community.
Most importantly, Bob took us from an academically decent school district to a district that is recognized across the state – and even nationally – as strong, progressive and successful, a district that provides our students the foundation they need to succeed as the world shifts around them.
As a board member, it has been such a privilege for me to work with Dr. Farrell as our superintendent. I’ve learned so much from you – as in everything you do, you work with board members in such an honest, supportive way, listening to us (even when we make no sense) and creating a true partnership with us all. Thank you for that.
Bob, you have given Milford three huge gifts: Peace. Prosperity. And Pride. You took a district in turmoil and allowed us to trust, to breath a collective sigh of relief, knowing we are on the right track. You took a district that has struggled financially for decades, at least, and shown us how to manage our money and still achieve. And pride – we are so proud of the district we have become, of how we approach our opportunities and challenges, and of the end result of all our hard work. All this is due to your leadership.
I can’t imagine a greater legacy than what you have done for Milford. A few weeks ago, I asked you why you ever came here. You shrugged and said, in your typical understated fashion, “I like a challenge.” Well, that’s certainly what you got in Milford, and our staff, our community, and most of all, our students, are so grateful you were willing to take on that challenge – and to stay, through it all.
We can never thank you enough.
We will miss you, but we wish you the very best in your retirement.