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Goyal tours Malabar, learns of education task force

May 15, 2009:

Mark Caudill
Mansfield News Journal

MANSFIELD — Jay Goyal could identify with the Malabar Middle School students he addressed Friday.

After all, Ohio's youngest state representative was in their shoes not that long ago.

Goyal toured Malabar and spoke to a couple of classes, stressing the importance of education.

"When I first ran for office, I was 24 years old," he said. "One of the reasons I was able to be successful was because of the education I received."

One of the students in Gwendolyn Gibson's class asked Goyal where he went the school. When Goyal said Lexington, the boy shook his head with mock disdain.

Another student asked Goyal how his grades were.

"When I was in school, I pretty much got A's," he said. "I studied a lot, but it was well worth it."

Goyal said his favorite subject was social studies. The 28-year-old earned an engineering degree from Northwestern.

Don Bryant, intern assistant for Mayor Don Culliver, invited Goyal to Malabar. Bryant helped start the mayor's education task force, made up of volunteers who visit the middle school as mentors. A couple of members of the task force, Ken and Deborah Haynes, went on the tour.

Principal Dan Wood led Goyal through Malabar, including a stop at eighth-grade math teacher Lloyd Stricker's class. Stricker had a note on the chalkboard that pointed out there are only 71 days until the next school year begins.

Wood took the opportunity to talk up some of Malabar's highlights, including the jazz band and the planetarium.

"How often do students get to come here?" Goyal asked of the planetarium.

Wood replied, "Not enough, but we're working on that."

Goyal also went to the pool, which Wood said contained no fish.

"The mayor swam in this pool," Wood said of Culliver. "It’s hallowed ground."

Bryant told Goyal about his goals for the mayor's education task force, saying he hoped to have 50 volunteers by the fall. Anyone interested in being a mentor can reach Bryant at 419-755-9695 or at