January 8, 2014 | Vol. 95, No. 5

January time to honor school board members

To the Editor:

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.

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. They continually advocate for the children of our state, and in the past year school board members made countless 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.

The men and women serving Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District are Russell Bailey, president; James Fyfe, trustee; Bruce Kerkove, vice president; Edwin Martinson, treasurer; Clarence Minkin, secretary; Dennis Morin, trustee; and Ann Wuorinen, trustee.

Bruce F. Mayle

GOISD superintendent