Longtime Twinsburg parks and recreation director leaving for Beachwood position
TWINSBURG – Derek Schroeder admitted his early dreams were “to work at a marine lab on some Caribbean island.” However, life had other things in store for him, and his path took him to Twinsburg’s parks and recreation department.
Schroeder, who became Twinsburg’s parks and recreation director in 2007, has resigned from that position, with his last day on Jan. 5, to accept the community services director position with the city of Beachwood. Beachwood’s City Council unanimously approved his appointment.
“The best candidate was Derek Schroeder,” said Martin S. Horwitz, the mayor of Beachwood, during the Dec. 23 council meeting. “His scope of responsibility is immense. The city of Twinsburg is a bit larger than us. The range of programs he’s brought to Twinsburg is astonishing. He brings a wealth of creativity, he brings a wealth of experience.”
Schroeder said he started with Twinsburg parks and recreation as a lifeguard at age 16 during summer breaks.
“Each summer I returned, I took on additional responsibilities,” Schroeder said.
"I taught swimming lesson, coached the swim team, and became the assistant pool manager and then eventually pool manager. This was all seasonal and part time work.”
Schroeder received his undergraduate degree in marine science from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in science in aquatic ecology from The University of Akron.
“But each summer break I continued working for Twinsburg Parks and Recreation,” Schroeder said. “I started to love working with the public, bringing families together, providing health and wellness opportunities, and making Twinsburg a better place to live. When the opportunity arose to go full time, I grabbed it immediately and I haven’t regretted it once. I would never want to be on that whale watch boat. This is what I was supposed to do.”
The full-time job opportunity came in 2002, when he became the recreation activities coordinator and assistant parks and recreation director.
“During these years, I planned day camps, community programming, special events, and assisted the director of parks and recreation,” Schroeder said. “I also was the Senior Center coordinator for a couple of years as well.”
As well as watching over the senior center, the Fitness Center, and the parks programs, Schroeder oversees the Twinsburg Community Theatre, Light the Night, an initiative to have artists paint the city’s electric boxes and activities such as the adult Easter Egg Hunt. But the activity he points to with the most pride is Rock the Park, which started in 2009.
“It is hard to believe that the first concert had 100 people or so,” Schroeder said. “I am typically the first person to arrive and the last to leave on a concert day. The day will most certainly be tiring with many moving pieces occurring at the same time. But during each show, I take a few minutes to stand back and look at what I have created. I see 1,500 people smiling, dancing, and having fun with their families and friends. Their joy is my joy.”
Schroeder said he felt that Twinsburg’s parks and recreation department “is top-notch and well-respected in the community.”
“Imagining that COVID had not occurred in 2020, I think I have brought this department to a place where I am actually comfortable leaving,” Schroeder said. “The team that I have assembled will continue to get the job done. I have fulfilled my job and am looking for a new challenge in Beachwood.”
Schroeder said that while he was excited by the opportunity provided with the job change, he added that it will be “very difficult to say goodbye to the city of Twinsburg as it has been a huge part of my life for 25 years.”
“I have interacted with thousands of residents over the years, been involved in dozens of committees, and watched families grow over the years,” Schroeder said. “As an employer, I couldn’t have ask for a better ‘company. Mayor [Ted] Yates and city council, and former Mayor [Katherine] Procop, have supported my career and allowed me to do some crazy things, like an adult Easter Egg hunt and suspending a giant disco ball from a fire truck. For that, I am extremely grateful. To my fellow employees, I am going to miss you very much. This position allowed me to work with almost every department in the city and it’s been great working with such outstanding people. But, I will miss my parks and recreation team the most. We may be small in numbers, but we work well together and accomplish more than double.”
Schroeder lives in Northfield Village with his husband, Dan and two children, Julia and Joshua.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at email@example.com