TONTOGANY — Jessica Mehl has been appointed to the Otsego Local Schools Board of Education.

At its meeting Thursday, the board voted 4-0. Mehl was at the meeting and was sworn in.

Eight “fantastic” candidates were interviewed over the course of two evenings, said board President Brad Anderson.

“It was not any easy choice,” he said.

Mehl will finish out the remaining two years of Judy Snyder’s term. Snyder died in February 2019 and Gordon Digby was appointed to fill that seat.

In November, there were two four-year seats open, which were filled by the reelection of James Harter and Digby. Digby is filling the seat of Elizabeth Gorski, who did not run for re-election.

Superintendent Adam Koch explained when Digby decided to run, he could pick the four-year term or the two-year term.

No one ran for Snyder’s unexpired term, necessitating the appointment of Mehl.

“I think they’re doing some really innovative things and I’m really proud to be part of the team,” Mehl said.

In her letter of interest, she explained she has volunteered in roles of increasing responsibility in the schools over the past few years, from helping in elementary classrooms, to coordinating the school supply drive for the Otsego Elementary PTO, to taking part in the Otsego Business Advisory Council and Portrait of a Graduate committee.

An Anthony Wayne graduate, she moved to Middleton Township in 2015. She has two daughters who attend Otsego Elementary, in second and fifth grade.

“I have been very impressed with the quality of instruction, dedication of administration and staff, and the overall atmosphere of the schools,” she wrote in her letter.

Mehl is an experienced higher education administrator with legal training.

She is employed part time as the Assistant Dean of Admissions for the College of Law at the University of Toledo and is a Court Appointed Special Advocate, formerly through Lucas County and now through Wood County Juvenile Court, representing children who have been victims of abuse, neglect and dependency.

Mehl has lived in Northwest Ohio for most of her life and moved back because she was missing the small school and rural environment.

“We really liked how all the schools were on one campus plus the availability of a preschool at the elementary,” she said about her family’s decision.

Her youngest daughter had two years of preschool before kindergarten, and “I think it went a really long way.”

“I saw how much work and time the teachers put in to help the kids, and I wanted to do anything I could to help the school district,” Mehl said.

She is impressed with the community and the innovations, especially the new solar panels that will cut electricity costs on campus. Mehl said that she is particularly interested in EdChoice and the appeal of the pipeline evaluation.

“I’ve seen all the exciting things students are doing in high school and college,” she said. “I enjoy working with students and my passion is ensuring their access to education.”

She said she is a first-generation college graduate.

“The impact of education is a huge equalizer in society.”

Mehl received her bachelor of science magna cum laude in public law and government from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and her juris doctor degree magna cum laude from the University of Toledo College of Law in 2005.