ST. MARYS - Kyle Menchhofer has mad skills. He makes a mean barbecue sauce and helps college students play better basketball. He is also leading the St. Marys school district to the cutting edge of technology.
Menchhofer, 44, is the district's technology coordinator. He launched a program to provide personnel digital assistants to students in the third through fifth grades.
"It all boils down to getting mobile learning devices, which are mini-computers, into kids' hands," Menchhofer said. "Kids are used to dealing with mobile technology. When they come to school, we're asking them to put them down and go back in time. Pencil and paper are archaic. Using a mobile device is so much faster."
Menchhofer said the mobile devices level the playing field because they can be used to address a variety of learning styles and because they put a computer in the hands of each child.
"We have disadvantaged students who come from families who can't afford to have a computer at home," Menchhofer said, "and we only have four computers per classroom of 25 students, so not everyone gets the same shot at being on a computer. On average, our students get to spend 15 minutes a week on a computer. With the PDAs, everybody can get on a computer and everybody is using the same computer."
The program will be expanded next year to the sixth grade.
"We have parents and teachers who are requesting teachers who are using PDAs next year," Menchhofer said. "Our teachers are so excited about using them. They say this is the best tool they've ever had in teaching. It's energized the students, teachers and parents."
The program has drawn the attention of others. Menchhofer was invited to speak on it at conferences in San Francisco and New York. He also assisted in the creation of a regional workshop for educators at the University of Northwestern Ohio, in Lima, and fields frequent calls on the subject.
"I feel like we've put ourselves out in front," Menchhofer said. "We have schools calling and asking about our program. There's not many schools in the country using mobile learning devices."
In addition to his job, Menchhofer golfs, is an assistant basketball coach at UNOH and helps run 2 Willy's BBQ and Catering. Menchhofer runs the business with is wife of 20 years, Kim, and his parents, Bill and Judy.
"It all keeps me busy and has a calming effect," Menchhofer said. "It takes my mind off school. The business does a lot of fundraisers and some festivals and fairs. We make a special sauce that we sell. The sauce took the People's Choice Award for best sauce at Celina's Rib Fest."
Menchhofer is a 1983 graduate of Celina High School. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in 1987 and 1988 from Ohio State University and the University of Findlay, respectively. He began working in St. Marys in 2000. Prior to that, he worked for the Wintersville, Elida and New Knoxville school districts.
The Menchhofers have three children, Kylee, 16, Kami, 13, and Kassie, 9. The family lives in St. Marys.