January is National School Board Month | PostIndependent.com

January is National School Board Month

Re-2 News
Theresa Hamilton
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Theresa Hamilton

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 public schools.

All Colorado citizens should recognize the vital contributions of these men and women, and the crucial role these elected public officials play in the education of our children. In the Garfield School District Re-2, those valiant volunteers are Jay Rickstrew, Chris Pearson, Brad Moss, Scott Doherty and Anne Guettler.

Public education is the backbone of American society, and local school boards are deeply rooted in U.S. tradition. Their origins can be traced to colonial times when the Massachusetts Law of 1642 empowered town officers to compel parents to teach their children to read. 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 continuous improvement in student learning. Yet local trustees sometimes tackle an often thankless job devoid of any glory. Too often we are quick to criticize school board members without really knowing all the details that went into a given decision. Now is the time to thank them for their untiring efforts.

As school board members, these citizens put on a collective hat when they get down to the business of leading their school districts. Though they may individually disagree on certain issues, board members must pull together as a team toward a common goal ” helping students achieve.

It is easy to forget school board members wear many hats in the world, in addition to their school board responsibilities. They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, employees, managers and business owners. They volunteer in Rotary, Lions, booster clubs, all in addition to their work on the school board.

Too often we forget about the personal sacrifices school board members routinely make. Board members contribute hundreds and hundreds of hours each year to lead their districts. The time spent in board meetings represents just a small fraction of the hours school board members spend. They also work hard at seminars and training sessions to keep abreast of the latest trends in educational leadership, are deeply involved in community activities and spend many hours in the schools and at extracurricular events. Their love for learning, and concern and caring for students, staff and community, drives board members’ desire to lead so students can achieve.

In recognition of the dedicated service, January is designated National School Board Month. This is a time to show our appreciation and begin to better understand how local trustees work together to provide a better future for our children. In January, join with others from throughout the Garfield Re-2 school district, our surrounding school districts and the state of Colorado to salute the men and women who provide grassroots governance of public schools.

Theresa Hamilton is director of districtwide services for the Garfield School District Re-2.

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