HOUSTON — Hardin-Houston schools District Superintendent Larry Claypool is bidding farewell as he retires from his position after eight years.
Claypool’s last official day as superintendent will be July 31.
Born and raised in Van Wert, Claypool graduated from Van Wert High School in 1971. Though he has relished his time in the world of education, he initially worked within several other career fields before realizing his dream of becoming an educator.
“At one point, I thought I may have a music career,” Claypool said.
“I sang for my first wedding when I was 4 years old, and it was such a natural thing — you know, some people have blue eyes, some people have perfect pitch, some people have a certain knack; as a baby, I just sang,” he said. “My mom told me that when I was little, I would sit on the floor before I could walk, and I would sing Pat Boone songs from the radio.”
After graduating from high school, Claypool began working as a disc jockey at the WERT radio station in Van Wert before finding work elsewhere.
Claypool also spent time in New York City during the 1970s, studying music with a private voice instructor. At the end of the decade, he moved to Dallas where his work took a turn toward business. Claypool began working for a business forums company in the city, eventually becoming vice president of the company.
Claypool also attended the University of North Texas, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education. In 1996, he went on a solo singing tour in Denmark.
Claypool returned home to Van Wert, in 1997, to help take care of his ailing father.
It was during this time that he first entered into education professionally, as he began teaching special education in Van Wert.
“I loved it,” he said. “I just enjoyed the kids and I really began to feel like that was my calling; that music was a hobby, and I just sort of felt a calling to do something more than just make money — I wanted to give something back.”
Soon after beginning his work in education, Claypool began to lose the talent he had held so dearly for so long.
“I lost my voice sometime around 2000,” he said. “Acid reflux took my singing ability away, but I was thankful I could still talk. I recorded a solo tenor CD in 1997; I could tell I was beginning to lose it, so I’m thankful that I have that as a memory of what it was like.”
He received his master degree in education from the University of Dayton. He earned his principal and superintendent licenses at the University of Findlay.
Claypool continued to work in special education for three years before becoming the director of student services for Van Wert County, after which he became the principal of Continental High School in Putnam County. His first role as superintendent was for Hardin Northern Local School District in Hardin County.
In 2002, Claypool married Christina Ryan Claypool. The two met in Lima, during a function at which Christina was a speaker.
In 2011, Claypool began his tenure as superintendent of Hardin-Houston schools.
One of Claypool’s favorite parts about his job as superintendent, he said, was to see the students grow and succeed.
“To see the kids walking in the hallway when they’re in fourth or fifth grade and then to hand them their diploma when they’re 18, getting ready to go out into the world; it makes me feel like I’ve added something and been a contributor to their life,” he said.
Claypool’s replacement, Ryan Maier, will take over as superintendent beginning Aug. 1. Maier has most recently served as the principal of Hardin-Houston’s junior and senior high school.
“I wish Ryan well,” Claypool said. “He is an outstanding guy and I believe he will do a great job for the district.”
Reach the writer at 937-552-2205.