By David Webster
A new position and a new chapter in my book as a school board member are beginning. My position as KSBA president will certainly give me some new stories and new adventures to add, just as being president-elect and traveling to the regional meetings have given me new scenery, new friends and a greater respect for all school board members. Each one of us has stories to write about in our experiences on our local board – I know, because I have heard some very interesting ones.
For all the new board members, your book is just beginning and it will be filled with many great adventures. In contrast, some of you already have many chapters – 12 or 16, even 20 or 40 or more. No matter where you fall in longevity, you will encounter some great experiences to write about and some not so great. Each day presents something new to think about and discuss in dealing with school board issues. You will face opposition and ridicule, be ignored, called a liar and maybe even be cussed out. No matter what, heed this advice: Never lose your temper, and keep your faith that you are doing the right thing. No matter what is said, always hold on to the thought that each and every thing you do must be for the students and the betterment of their education in your district.
You will have successes to smile about, staff to appreciate, graduates to congratulate and smiles from students at your board meetings, as you acknowledge their accomplishments. Oh, what smiles and warm feelings those positive moments bring to us as board members. This is what makes it worth the service.
But as much as we don’t want to admit it, failure is a part of life; we must face it at one time or another. Some of the biggest success stories in our time came after multiple failures. We know about Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Harland Sanders’ famous “Secret Recipe.” What most people don’t know is the Colonel failed at a number of different businesses over several decades before his chicken finally caught on.
Remember that “failure is succeeding at the wrong thing.” Do not try to hide or conceal your failures. Do not be discouraged by your failures. Do not let fear keep you from attempting greater things for the students of your district. Doing the same thing with the same results is not the answer. I know, because we were there in our district at one time. It takes all the district staff and the students working together with the same goal in mind. It takes the board of education showing complete support for the turnaround in the school or schools, and keeping the community updated on the turnaround.
But I will reiterate that the complete focus has to be on the students and their success, from preschoolers to high schoolers, the gifted and talented, those with special needs, the brightest and those who struggle. When we lose that focus, then we lose what we are there for as school board members. It cannot be about an agenda, about the adults or even the community. It cannot be about which side of the tracks the students are from, who their parents are and what they do for a living, their race or country of origin. If they attend our schools, they are all our students and deserve the same attention, the same love and the same education. No one student is better than the other.
Every student that walks the line on graduation day, from our high school or alternative school, is a success story so, Love them all! Educate them all! And celebrate them all!
My motto – and you will see it often – “Aspire to inspire before you expire!”