Assistant Superintendent Dan Mumma is poised to assume the top-ranking position of the Ohio Valley Educational Service Center on Jan. 1 when Superintendent Carol Austin retires.

"Mrs. Austin has been a great mentor. She has done wonderful things for the OVESC," Mumma said. "She gave me the opportunity to learn how the OVESC functions and the time to grow into the job. I'm looking forward to maintaining the high quality of services that are provided to the districts."

The OVESC's $12 million annual budget serves approximately 20,000 students with 240 employees and encompasses 13 school districts within five counties: Belmont, Guernsey, Noble, Washington and Monroe.

"The OVESC is a consortium ... where we share teachers and resources. It's a way for school districts to save money and that's the bottom line," he said.

Mumma said there are many challenges facing the education system in general and educators in particular.

"The biggest problem we have at the ESC is funding. We are not supported sufficiently by the state. We have not had an increase in funding since 1981. Everything keeps going up and there is almost no way to raise money. So, we have to be creative how we leverage our dollars."

With 40 years of experience as an educator, Mumma's credentials speak for themselves. He graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor's degree in education and later earned his master's degree as a reading specialist supervisor at West Virginia University. He received his principal and superintendent certification from the University of Dayton.

His rise through the ranks began in 1969 as an English teacher for Bellaire City Schools, then at Union Local Schools where he was a teacher, assistant high school principal, principal and in 1992 as superintendent. He retired as superintendent in August 1998 and became a coordinator for continuous improvement at Bridgeport and then for the Union Local School District. In July 2000 he accepted the position of assistant superintendent of the OVESC.

From negotiating union contracts and writing grants to directing levy campaigns and serving as an adjunct professor at Ohio University and Muskingum College, Mumma has immersed himself in continuous educational self-improvement.

When asked about personal interests, he smiles. His family, of course, it at the top of the list, but what he now considers a "hobby," at one time played a very important part of his life.

"I always wanted to play in a rock and roll band," he said. "And for a while, I was very serious about it."

He began playing the guitar when he was "laid up" with a cast on his leg from an injury sustained while playing football in high school. He never had any formal lessons, his musical acumen came from his parents, both of whom were musicians.

"It was more or less something to do while I was laid up," he said.

"Actually, my ties to Guernsey County are through my Uncle Bill (Mumma), who lived on Barrett Hill Road and where my exposusre to bluegrass music began ... I always felt close to Guernsey County, it's where I spent almost every weekend," he said.

And, the more he played the more he wanted to play.

He played with some friends in college, then in 1969 (the year he began teaching) and for the next seven years while he was honing his skills as a teacher, he was also honing in on his boyhood dream of playing in a rock and roll band.

"We had a band called 'Youtah.' We played all around Ohio, in Wheeling and the Pittsburgh area. We even recorded an album. But, I was married and had a family ... it was to the point that I had to make a decision and I chose teaching."

Mumma still plays in a band, but now it's with his two sons and his playing time is limited to church events.

Mumma is a lay leader at Bethesda United Methodist Church, a member of the Hazel Lodge of Free Masons and Elks Lodge 1699.

He and his wife, Sandy, who retired as Barnesville postmaster in 2003, reside in Barnesville.

The Mummas met in the fourth grade, dated through high school and married in their senior year of college. They just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.

They have three children and five grandchildren. Son Jason is an accountant for the Ohio Department of Taxation. Son Ben is a teacher at Meadowbrook High School. Daughter Angie is a dentist in Marysville.