Sunday, January 4, 2004

David Nordyke, 51, leader of charter school

Educator had innovative touch

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ROSELAWN - David Nordyke was not just a school administrator at Harmony Community School, one of the state's first charter schools.

The 51-year-old executive director, superintendent and teacher took a personal interest in and inspired each student. The Roselawn man died Monday of heart disease.

"He showed students that they were not to be taken advantage of, that we were all in this together," said Yonsel Blanks, a Harmony graduate. "He never gave up on any student. Many never would have graduated without Mr. Nordyke's personal nurturing and encouragement."

Jeanne Westerkamp of ProKids, which represents abused and neglected children in Hamilton County Juvenile Courts, said Nordyke knew everything about his students.

"He was so in tune with the kids. When they had a problem, they went right to him. He never forgot anything about his students."

The Dayton, Ohio, native graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree emphasizing secondary English education. He took advanced studies at Xavier University in secondary school administration and the University of Cincinnati in curriculum, labor relations, and special education.

At Miami University, Dr. Nordyke completed his doctoral program with emphasis in educational change and cultural education. Mary Bridges, who is on the board and management team of Harmony School, said Nordyke introduced an initiative for motor development screening and development.

"He designed a transitional work concept for low income adolescents; designed and implemented a self-help course for education consumer advocacy; and wrote child-centered funding for legislation for the State of Ohio," Ms. Bridges said.

Dr. Nordyke taught in public, private and parochial schools before founding Harmony in 1998.

The motto of the 600-student school is "One Size Fits Few."

"His philosophy and mission included a belief that since we all access information differently and have different learning styles, that each student must be dealt with individually," Ms. Bridges said.

Survivors include his wife, Joan Ann Barlage; a son, Zachary, at home, a daughter, Kathleen, at home; two sisters, Anne Greggs of Rockford, Mich. and Debra Nordyke of Junction City, Ore; and a brother, Michael of Dayton, Ohio.

A memorial service, planned by Harmony students and open to the public, will be 6-9 p.m. Wednesday at Harmony School, 1580 Summit Road, Roselawn.

Memorials: Harmony Community School, David Nordyke Thinking Garden Fund, 1580 Summit Road, Cincinnati 45237.



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