Cheryl Ann Programs N ews R FALL 2014 eview VOLUME NINE, ISSUE FOUR Shawn Thieman to Lead Cheryl Ann Mercer DD Board Names Thieman as New Superintendent Shawn Thieman will become the next superintendent of Cheryl Ann Programs when longtime Superintendent Mike Overman retires at the end of this year. Thieman, 42, has been Cheryl Ann’s business manager since 2008. “Shawn met all of the qualities we were looking for in the next leader of the program,” said Board President Teri Spoltman. “Shawn is of extremely high character and possesses many leadership capabilities. He has been our business manager for the past six years so he obviously has a strong hold on the financial aspects of running the program. Since he has been in a management position at Cheryl Ann for several years, he has also developed a strong chemistry with not only the other employees, but, more importantly, the people with disabilities in Mercer County whom we serve.” Thieman said he looks forward to building on the foundation that has been set at Cheryl Ann. “I hope to continue with the work that Mike has set the groundwork for,” he said. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with him. I can’t begin to explain how selfless he is, and how impressed I am with him. With every decision he makes, he asks, what impact will this have on the people of Cheryl Ann?” He also looks forward to working with “one of the best DD boards in the state. Cheryl Ann Programs is an amazing place. A lot of what I have to do next is to continue down the path of success that has been set for us.” Thieman lives in St. Henry with his wife, Tracy, and their three children. He has an MBA from Wright State University. Before joining Cheryl Ann, he spent eight years as the program director with the Tri-County ADAMH (Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health) Board, based in Van Wert, Ohio. Prior to that, Thieman was a case manager with the Mercer County Mental Health Center in Coldwater. “I went into homes, I worked with families, hospitals and individuals,” he said. “I learned from that experience how important family support can be for people who are struggling to fit into society, and I learned what it was to have a good relationship with the people you are trying to help.” While as business manager he had to keep an eye on the numbers, he believes that administrators also have to think creatively. His experience in working with individuals and families as a caseworker, and his experience in administration provide him with a Shawn Thieman, right, has been named Cheryl Ann superintendent to replace Mike Overman, who will retire at the end of 2014. good balance as he prepares to lead Cheryl Ann Programs, he said. “Shawn possesses a strong commitment to Cheryl Ann Programs,” Spoltman said. “He is eager to take on the leadership role and move forward with the mission of Cheryl Ann to help individuals with disabilities and their families discover, pursue, and achieve what is important to them.” Mike Overman to Retire in December Under his leadership, Cheryl Ann grew, reached out, evolved (The summer issue of the Cheryl Ann News Review explored the early years of Mike Overman’s career at Cheryl Ann Programs. Overman, who has been Cheryl Ann’s superintendent for more than 30 years, is retiring at the end of this year.) Before the state of Ohio paid much attention to children with developmental disabilities, homegrown activists in Mercer County had established a program for those children that became Cheryl Ann School (later Cheryl Ann Programs). In the 1960s, the state began to catch up to those parents’ desire that their children be offered some of the same opportunities as children with typical abilities. In 1967, the state of Ohio created a board of mental retardation in each county to create a school setting for children with special needs. “It was meant to give those children some training, and give their families some relief,” Overman said. “The state provided no significant money, but it did create a structure. It was a major game changer.” Overman, it turned out, was also a game changer. He had been a classroom teacher at Cheryl Ann School for a few years (in the meantime earning a master’s degree as an administrator in special education from Wright State University), before the superintendent’s position opened up in 1982. By that time he had ideas about where he would like Cheryl Ann to go, and what he would like it to be. He was ready. He applied, and was hired as Cheryl Ann’s superintendent. “I was enthusiastic about teaching. I loved the kids and truly felt I could make a difference in their lives,” Overman said. “But I felt that if I was the superintendent, I could have more impact on more people’s lives.” In the beginning, it was very much a hands-on position. “When I started, we had a school program and a pre-school program, plus one OPEN MIKE Mike has built strong and trusting relationships with persons with disabilities and their families, agencies, schools and the citizens of Mercer County. Under his leadership, Mercer County DD is a highly respected agency with overwhelming support from the community. His influence will be felt for many years to come and he will be greatly missed. Cindy Shafer, retired CAES coordinator I have always been impressed with Mike’s love of his job, his love of the people he works with, his love of his community, and his love and commitment to the individuals with disabilities whom he serves. John Martin, director, Ohio Department of DD teacher who did home visits and spent time with our elderly associates,” he said. “We had the workshop, which was the only option we could offer for adults, and buses that brought people in and took them home. I was a substitute teacher and a substitute bus driver.” The field of helping those with developmental disabilities continued to grow. “Research started coming out. We learned more and more about community employment, case management and adult day services—and all the other issues that come up in people’s lives,” he said. Cheryl Ann grew to meet those needs, from respite care to family support, to recreational opportunities, to job training. Residential services was another area of growth, as Cheryl Ann helped individuals find appropriate places to live. “We had a significant number of people who were living in their family homes or out in the community, who in the past would have been institutionalized,” he said. “Overwhelmingly, they have proven to be good neighbors and they have good neighbors.” Cheryl Ann, which Overman calls a “cradle to grave” program, established an early intervention program for newborns to age three. “Last year, we served 125 individual children and their families. We get no federal or state funding for our early intervention program. We’ve consciously chosen to support any children or families who are seeing delays in development, because early intervention absolutely works,” he said. Cheryl Ann is able to move forward with its innovative programming because it feels the support of the local taxpayers, who have generously approved levies over the years. “My gut feeling is that the majority of Mercer County voters, when they hear the words ‘Cheryl Ann,’ it rings positive to them. What we’re doing rings true to them,” he said. “The taxpayers support us, and in return we provide the best possible service we can to people with developmental disabilities.” It’s about the people with Cheryl Ann and with Mike Overman, and, from start to finish, it always has been. “The people who work in our field are overwhelmingly care-giving people. It’s good to have some type-A people in an organization like ours, but not too many: they are generally not attracted to this field because they may feel things move too slowly,” he said. “If you are in too big of a hurry with an associate, you are not going to get anywhere and you are going to be really frustrated, and so are they.” Being a supporter and an encourager and nev- er a hindrance: that has been at the heart of his career. He sees himself as a bridge between all the services that are available, the associates, and their families. “I’ve always had a strong connection for the families of those we serve,” he said. “Parents come in and talk with me, and I can feel their hurt and their joy. Essentially, that’s been my mantra: we are here for the individuals and their families.” The families, in turn, hold him in the highest regard. “Mike’s ongoing support and advocacy for our children with developmental disabilities let us know we were not alone in raising our children over the years,” said Diane Menchhofer, who with her husband, Tim, raised two sons with developmental disabilities. “He taught us, by his example, to value our children and appreciate their abilities. He will be so missed—he is a friend as well as a superintendent.” Families are an integral part of Cheryl Ann, Overman said. “That will be my first piece of advice for my successor: respect the families. Understand that they come from a different perspective as you, but their perspective is at least as valid as yours. If you lose the support of the families, you might as well pack it up.” Top to bottom: Mike Overman at his desk with a stack of the documents that have been part of his life for over 30 years; Mike pays a visit to Serenity Springs group at Cheryl Ann; and Mike with the Warren Menchhofer family, who were given the Albert Heckler award in 2013. It’s an award that he established for Cheryl Ann’s notably supportive families. Featuring the S P OT L I G H T O N : TORI HECK Tori Heck has a sharp eye for detail, and that makes her an invaluable associate with Outsource Solutions as well as in her enclave job with Pax Machine Works in Celina. “She is fast and thorough. Details are her specialty,” said Darl Strable, enclave manager. “She is always Tori Heck on time and always dependable.” Tori lives in Mendon with her parents, Nickie and Andy Heck, and the family’s four dogs, two cats Cheryl Ann Programs 4980 Mud Pike Celina OH 45822 amazing people at Cheryl Ann and two fish. She helps at home and also at Cheryl Ann, where the staff relies on her when it’s time to decorate for the holidays. “Tori is a great artist and she is always willing to help us out,” said Jill Petrie, team leader of Outsource Solutions. Tori draws, paints and works in ceramics and clay. She is a real asset to Outsource Solutions and to the businesses who benefit from her work ethic. “Tori strives for perfection no matter what job she is doing,” said Jessica Dilhoff, support specialist. “She does her best at everything.” October 27: Mercer County Board of DD meeting, 7:30 p.m. November 11: Cheryl Ann Programs is closed for Veterans Day. November 20: ARC meeting at Community Hospital, Coldwater, 7 p.m. November 24: Mercer County board of DD meeting, 7:30 p.m. November 27–28: Cheryl Ann Programs is closed for Thanksgiving. December 12: Christmas party for associates, at the Mud Pike facility. (In case of bad weather, it will be held December 15). December 22: Mercer County Board of DD meeting, 7:30 p.m. Cheryl Ann Calendar Happy Thanksgiving from Cheryl Ann Programs! We’re grateful for all our families and friends!
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