Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Small Beginnings

Although I grew up just outside of Swanton, lived in the area most of my life, and still have many friends and relatives here, I discovered during my campaign for Swanton Board of Education that my married name effectively "disguised" me for the most part. It was a bit unsettling. People just didn't know who I was, and I'm sure it made some a little nervous.

But I was elected to the School Board in November 2007, and I am excited to have a chance to serve the community!

Shortly after the election, I met Neil Weber, our school superintendent, and his right-hand person, Chris Wood. We had a nice chat one morning, although I didn't catch up with Cheryl Swisher (treasurer) that day nor the other time I popped into their offices. I sent a quick email to each of the school principals as well, and Mrs. Paulette Baz was kind enough to offer a tour of the high school!

She was very kind to take me through the facilities and give me the opportunity to meet some of the teachers when possible. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together. Afterwards, I decided maybe it would be a good idea to introduce myself to the other school principals as well, so that we could each put a face with our name.

I first stopped in to meet Mrs. Linda Reeves at Crestwood Elementary. Having deposited myself on her doorstep unannounced, I caught her a bit off guard, but she was very gracious in asking if I would like to schedule a day to come during the lunch hour to meet each of the teachers as well. We set a date, and I was off again!

Next I headed over to the Middle School, hoping to meet Mr. Steve Smith. I entered the office, and realized that the lady in front of me must be the other newly elected board member, Mrs. Mona Dyke. I introduced myself to her, and we had a quick chat together - I learned that her cousin was a friend of mine from my former employment at The Andersons! Small world! She pointed me in the direction of Mr. Smith, and I headed that way. Unfortunately, he was not in his office at that moment, and two students were already waiting for him. I decided to try and catch him at another time.

From there, I went to Park Elementary where I met Mrs. Carolyn Short. I apologized for showing up unexpectedly, but Mrs. Short was wonderful. She immediately asked if I would like a tour of her building? and I was delighted to say, "yes!" Off we went! I was able to meet several teachers, and during our conversation, Mrs. Short was clear and direct as to her opinion of what needed to be done for Park Elementary and its students. At one point, she apologized for being so frank - but I was glad she spoke plainly. I much prefer the direct approach myself, as does she. I was very impressed with her ideas and approach to the students' needs in her building. She is a delightful woman - I could have happily taken her home with me.

I was not able to attend the Board meeting in November, as I have class on Monday nights. However, my schedule is such that I should be able to attend the December meeting and I am planning to do so. One thing I plan to ask is that the Board digitally record their meetings and then make the recordings available online for those parents and others who are unable to physically attend. There are many who would love to come, but circumstances preclude their ability to do so. Having the meetings available 24/7 would go a long way in helping to forge a bond between the Board and those they serve.

We'll see what happens! I don't want to come across like the new kid on the block trying to bully everyone else around. I just think it is a good idea, worth pursuing. Hopefully the other Board members will, too.

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