Board Appreciation Month
The month of January provides us an opportunity to acknowledge a special group of volunteer elected officials in education. It is School Board Recognition Month, and it offers communities across Michigan a way to acknowledge the continuing efforts of local and ISD school board members in providing leadership and guidance to local school districts. Across the state, there are more than 4,000 school board members who dedicate countless hours of hard work to improving education for Michigan children.
In my sixteen years as an administrator, I have worked with many school board members. I can honestly say that not one of them took the position for the pay, especially since school board members get paid very little or nothing at all. Instead, school board members take on the position, because they care deeply for their local school. They want to help their school and their community as a whole since in small communities such as those in the Copper Country, schools are often the center piece of the community.
I spent nine years as an administrator in Chassell. During those years, I had great one-on-one discussions with board members. They always wanted to know what the school could do to make the education that students received better. This wasn’t because they were dissatisfied with what was happening; on the contrary, they were happy and saw good results, but they also didn’t just sit back and let things remain static. They wanted to know what else could be done. Did all the board members agree on what should be done? No, they did not, but that is when great discussions would happen.
I then moved on to become the superintendent of the Copper Country ISD, a role that requires working with school board members from all parts of the Copper Country, representing many different communities. These board members look at the various department administrators’ reports and ask questions to really understand what services the ISD is providing, demonstrating that they really care about what is happening at the ISD. Developing such an understanding allows them to go back into their communities and have discussions with community members and other local school personnel to bridge any gaps in services.
The CCISD board members are not afraid to challenge and question me. This actually makes me a better superintendent. It forces me to think twice about why I am leading them in a particular direction. But, by doing this, it allows me to become more confident in the direction we are going, or in some cases, to realize that I need to look at a situation differently and change course if needed. A good school board serves as a partner in decision making.
I would like to personally thank all school boards members with whom I have worked with over the last sixteen years. I appreciate the sacrifices these board members have had to make, the time and dedication that they put forth and their commitment to our students.
For those who are considering running for a school board, I would encourage you to attend board meetings and to talk with current board members, administrators and teachers. There is always a need for dedicated community members to get involved.
Please join me this month in thanking a school board member for all that they do.