Tonight was my last evening to serve as the School Board Chair. While it was my decision not to rerun, it is still bitter sweet! I was first appointed and then elected to a 4 year term. In my quick 5 ¼ years on the school board, I was voted in as the chair each year for my last 3 years. An experience that I gained incredible insight from. Thank you to my esteemed board teammates for believing I could handle it. 🙂
This is my 32nd year as an educator…teaching elementary students in grades 3 and 5, then serving as an elementary principal, and now teaching teacher candidates at SMSU how to be powerful teachers. Serving as a school board member provided me the opportunity to view education through a brand new lens. An educational understanding you can only acquire by serving on the board.
Here are a few essential lessons I learned while serving the students of my home district as a school board member and chair:
Run for school board WITHOUT an agenda!
Read and understand the School Board Code of Ethics!
You can’t please everyone so always do what’s right for the kids!
Make your decisions for kids then move on!
Make INFORMED decisions!
Pray about every decision you make (this should be THE number one priority)!
Communicate with your state School Board Association for advice (THANK YOU to Sandy, Gary, Katie, and Cathy at MN School Board Association for ALL your help)!
Attend the yearly School Board Conference. Excellent leadership professional development!
Assume positive intent when you are questioned on your decisions!
Know that people will make speculations and assumptions (especially when they are not at the meetings and only get their information from the local newspaper).
Social media (especially Facebook) will attack you! It can get downright nasty…oh well!
Do NOT engage in social media rage!
You are ONE voice! Do not speak for the rest of the board!
Prep prior to the meeting!
Respect those who are speaking…no side bar conversations!
Listen to ALL points of view!
There are two sides to every story!
Bring ALL concerns to the superintendent!
Use face-to-face or a phone call to communicate with the superintendent!
Ask questions, then follow up on those questions!
Offer your perspective!
Respect the opinions of others!
Keep an open mind and heart!
Support the board after a final decision has been made!
NEVER tell the public “you will take care of it.”
Know your role!
You are NOT the superintendent!
You are NOT to micromanage!
You will finally know what you are doing by about year four!
And please, follow the chain of command!
Those are just a handful of lessons learned from my time serving. There are many more I could share, but I’ll save them for a possible book someday. 😮
A gratitude-filled shout out to my hometown, Pipestone, MN. Thank you for having faith in my abilities. Did I make mistakes? Of course I did! I’m human, and none of us are perfect. I strive for “continuous growth.” 🙂 However, I know my servant leadership had a positive impact and made an uplifting difference for this district while serving. And that is what life is all about…serving others. It’s been an honor and a pleasure! God bless!
Photo Credit: Kyle Kuphal, Pipestone Co. Star
Stay Calm and Respect Your School Board,