To the Ovid-Elsie Community,
January is typically reserved for Board Appreciation Month but I felt compelled to bring this recognition to our Board a month early. This year we are saying “good-bye” to two long-standing Board Members, Mr. Jamie Perrien and Mrs. Becky Holmes-Bukantis. I want to personally thank them for their commitment to Ovid-Elsie Area Schools, along with all of our other Board Members, and express to them our appreciation. I would also like to thank President Stacie Rulison, Vice-President Dr. David Huff, Secretary Steve Sopocy, Treasurer Amy Palus, and Trustees Erin Bancroft and Mike Schiffer. We also welcome aboard newcomer Mr. Josh Miller.
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.
Public education is the backbone of American society, and local school boards are deeply rooted in U.S. tradition. It’s the foundation on which our democracy was built. 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 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. Collectively, they spend almost 7,000 hours on professional development to keep abreast of the latest trends in educational leadership, are deeply involved in community activities and spend many hours at extracurricular events. 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.
If you’re interested, I have some suggestions for things you might do to honor the Board. You might:
– Sponsor a public service announcement.
– Invite board members to your January meeting to recognize their efforts.
– Feature the board in your January newsletter.
– Sponsor a newspaper ad thanking the board for its dedication and service.
– Host a fun event for the board and their families.
– Send each board member a certificate for a free cup of coffee from a local coffee shop. Accompany it with a note that says, “You deserve a break!”
– Sponsor signs to be distributed to local businesses.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can work together to honor the dedication of our locally elected school board members. Thank you very much for your support in this deserved recognition.
On behalf of the Board of Education I want to wish each and everyone a very safe and happy holiday season.
Dr. Ryan L. Cunningham, Superintendent
Ovid-Elsie Area Schools