GREENVILLE - James Sommer is more than a retired school teacher, during and following his 30 years of service to the Versailles school district, Sommer found himself heavily involved in the community, most recently serving as the president of the Southwest Region Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA).
Sommer has served on the Greenville board of education for 10 years, making him the senior member of the board, and a likely candidate for board president next year, so it’s a good thing his term as region president is coming to an end on Dec. 31, he said. Because of his service as the president of the region, Sommer will also serve on the state committee of the OSBA. Prior to his year as president, Sommer served on the state board of trustees for OSBA to learn the ropes, he said.
As president of the southwest region, Sommer has had to lead five regional meetings, as well as attending other functions in the region to serve as the “face and voice” of the southwest region, he said. The hardest parts, he said, were the responsibility, staying organized and traveling the span of the southwest region.
However, the benefits of being the only Greenville City Schools board member to serve as region president outweighed the negatives, Sommer asserted.
“It was a tremendous benefit to the school district, and gave us an opportunity for involvement at the regional and state level. This year at the Capital Conference in Columbus, Greenville City Schools had five student groups represented, and typically there’s a maximum of two slots per school, but OSBA was having a hard time filling those spots, so we were able to step up and help,” Sommer noted.
Throughout the year several Darke County school groups were featured as entertainers or given awards of recognition by the Southwest region including the Matt Light Foundation, Mississinawa’s Kuroi Taka Taiko Drums, Greenville’s The Jazz Scene, and several career tech prep programs.
Along with an opportunity to showcase Greenville students, Sommer said that being on the executive board of the OSBA is a great networking opportunity, and a learning curve that will really help the district.
“The last four months, I’ve been contacting board members in our region who have gone through a building project recently, and I’m setting up meetings with them to go tour their facilities so that I can make notes - what they liked, what they didn’t like, the troubles they ran into…”
Along with his educational endeavors, Sommer is involved with the Greenville Elks, the Knights of Columbus, and the American Legion, and has served on the Financial Assistance for Medical Emergencies (F.A.M.E.) board of trustees, and as president and a member of the parish council at St. Mary’s Church, he noted.
He’s been married to his wife, Alicia, a retired Greenville school teacher, for 43 years, he added. The Sommers have two sons, and three granddaughters, so it’s not like they’re not busy, Jim commented, but on top of serving on the school board, as the regional president, and being active in three other organizations, Jim holds two part-time jobs, at KitchenAid Experience and Shell gas station in Greenville.