Mercer principal J. Lindsay Florence is even-keeled, direct and genuinely modest in conversation. He's got all the outward characteristics of what most any parent would want in an elementary school principal.
But that's not what the K-4 crowd saw when he started at Mercer nearly 14 years ago. They just saw a guy who was downright huggable.
The gestures were kind, but for Florence, who had spent the previous 11 years teaching middle and high school PE and serving as a middle school administrator, it was a sign that he was in new territory. "All the sudden, I had kids rushing up to me and giving me hugs," he says, recalling his initial confusion. "The older kids don't do that."
Today, Florence is plenty at home in Mercer. "I love to go around to each classroom each day and see what's going on, just to observe," he explains. "So I get to know the kids. I've always enjoyed talking to them, asking how they're doing, and really learning who they are. I've gotten a good sense of them that way. And it's one of the things about the job that I really love."
Florence knew early on that he wanted to be a teacher. The Wooster, Ohio-native was a YMCA day-camp counselor and loved the experience. He attended Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, where he played basketball (he still loves watching basketball---college and professional---and he officiates games), and then took his first teaching job as a PE teacher in Twinsburg. Then he moved on to teach at Garfield Heights High School and coach men's varsity basketball. He stayed on for a few years before coming to Shaker, where he has served as a middle school PE teacher, middle school assistant principal and Woodbury assistant principal.
Outside of school, Florence enjoys spending time with Woodbury Assistant Principal Pat Rashid and his son, a basketball player who will enter the eighth grade at Mayfield Middle School in the fall.