JANUARY IS BOARD OF EDUCATION APPRECIATION MONTH
In recognition of our Board of Education we asked current Board members why they serve on the Board of Education. We included their responses at the end of this article.
As citizen leaders, individual school board members face complex and demanding challenges. They are alternately described as having the most important volunteer jobs in the country and facing the toughest challenge in elected American government. Yet school board members are just ordinary citizens with extraordinary dedication to our nation’s public schools. All Michigan citizens should recognize the vital contributions of these men and women and the crucial role they play in the education of our children.
Public education is the backbone of American society, and local school boards are deeply rooted in U.S. tradition. It’s the foundation on which our democracy was built. Today local school boards continue to do the most important work of their communities—that of educating our youth.
Their job is to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, ensure schools are accountable to the community and strongly advocate for continuous improvement in student learning. The job of a school board member is tough, the hours long and the thanks few and far between. Too often we’re quick to criticize school board members without really understanding the complex nature of their decisions. Now’s the time to thank them for their untiring efforts.
School board members come from a variety of backgrounds, yet they share a common goal—helping students achieve in school and life. As a state, Michigan has faced many challenges, but the key to a brighter future is a strong public education system.
We often forget about the personal sacrifices school board members make. Board members contribute hundreds and hundreds of hours each year leading their districts. The time spent in board meetings represents just a small fraction of the hours school board members spend leading their districts. Collectively, they spend more than 7,500 hours on professional development to keep abreast of the latest trends in educational leadership, are deeply involved in community activities and spend many hours at extracurricular events. They continually advocate for the children of our state, and in the past year school board members made more than 1,100 passionate pleas to legislators, speaking out against budget cuts and pushing for smart reforms.
The month of January marks the annual observance of School Board Recognition Month. This is a time to show our appreciation and begin to better understand how local trustees work together to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. In January, join with others from throughout our district and state to salute the men and women who provide grassroots governance of public schools.
Thoughts from our current Board of Education members...
Scott Williams, Board President -
I originally ran for the WBRC School Board with the goal of contributing to my school (Class of 1987) and handing my daughter her high school diploma. Having accomplished both of those goals and seeing the positive and promising direction that the District was headed, I ran for a second term with the goal of continued top-tier student achievement and expanding and developing programs to meet the needs of all student career paths.
Scott Kartes, Board Vice-President -
I chose to run for the school board because I believe in the importance of education in our children’s future. Whether they are pursuing a career in the trades, arts, sciences, etc., I believe it is the responsibility of our school system to prepare them to the best of our ability. This means that we need to be able to provide as many educational and extracurricular programs as possible while being wise and responsible fiscally, and making sure we are holding these programs to a high standard.
Being on the school board is not always an easy job; sometimes hard decisions have to be made but, overall, it has been very rewarding and I am honored to be a part of it. I am very happy with the direction that we are heading as a district. Serving on the board has given me given me a deeper appreciation for all the hard work the Administrators, Teachers, and Staff dedicate to our children!
Michael Eagan, Board Secretary -
As an employee of the district for 34 years, I felt that I had something to offer the district upon my retirement. I have enjoyed working to make our school district the best possible district for our students.
Richard Nelson, Board Treasurer -
I ran for the school board because I wanted to see changes made and I have seen change…four Superintendents, six Business Mangers and a lot of improvements made in our schools, with additional improvements coming. We still have more to do to restore all the cuts we made during the financial problems the State put us in, and to give our students a better education. I have stayed on the Board as I have two granddaughters in our schools but, after 20-1/2 years, this will be my last term.
Pat Beasley-Groh, Board Trustee -
I ran for a school board position for the chance to understand what it takes to run a school. With that being said, I have been blessed to learn much more. It takes so much to give the kids what they need. Everyone knows the cuts we had to make were very hard, yet things have turned around and now we get to add back. The most treasured part for me has been the programs we have for students who don’t want college (like career and technical education). As a board member, I listen and often do not speak, but I hear what is being said. I’ve learned it takes every employee to make a district work and that no single position would work without the others.
Jessica Quigley, Board Trustee -
Being a board member provides me with great joy at this point in my life. I feel having my own children obtaining their primary education through the same district I did, as well as their father, is a wonderful experience. Providing direction to the district, whether it is in regard to the sciences or school uniforms, impacts my children as well as many friends’ and families’ youth in the school system - which in the end will impact their overall life experiences. I am proud to be a community member and leader of education for West Branch-Rose City Area schools.
Curt Schaiberger, Board Trustee -
I joined the school board as a way to help ensure our students are well educated. I feel the district is moving in a good direction at this time and I am proud to now be part of it.