Hear why school board members serve their communities, and see what schools are doing to celebrate them during School Board Recognition Month in January.
School board members are elected by their local communities to serve their local communities.
“I proudly served my school community for about 38 years as a teacher before retiring,” said Robert Rojas, Nogales Unified School District Governing Board member and Arizona School Boards Association Santa Cruz County Director.
“Service as a board member is a personally meaningful way for me to continue to make a positive impact on our students, effectuating change on their behalf,” Rojas said.
School board members govern a community’s public schools through budget, employee benefits, policy, evaluation of the superintendent and more.
“Communities need school boards to be their voice,” said Dr. Sheila Harrison-Williams, executive director of Arizona School Boards Association.
“The more than 1,100 school members representing every school district across Arizona will affirm the needs and challenges of their communities and how different they are from one another,” Dr. Harrison-Williams said.
Their decisions are reflective and in response to local needs and circumstances, ”Dr. Harrison-Williams said.
School Board Recognition Month was created by the National School Boards Association in 1995 to help school districts celebrate their school board members.
In Kyrene School District, each governing board member was asked “why they wanted to be on the board, what their favorite thing about being a board member is, and one thing about their position that most people probably don’t know,” said Nicole Ashton, communications analyst.
Then, Kyrene School District created graphics with board member’s photos and shared their responses on social media.
“I became a Board member because it’s so important to have strong public schools in our Kyrene community,” said Kevin Walsh, Kyrene School District Governing Board President.
“My kids are thriving in Kyrene, and I want to ensure that all Kyrene students have access to a fantastic education,” Walsh said.
“What people may not know is that a Board member’s service often includes advocating for our students and staff,” Walsh said.
“You’ll often find us at the State Capitol speaking to the legislature about the importance of fully funding our public schools in Kyrene and throughout Arizona,” Walsh said.
Arizona School Boards Association has created a resource page for members about school board recognition month and ways to honor school board members for their service that can be accessed here by logging in with a member’s ASBA password.
In addition, ASBA has been celebrating school board members this month with social media posts.
The #celebration continues this month for #schoolboardmonth. Thank YOU for your extraordinary service in helping Arizona students thrive. We want to know why YOU serve…leave a comment below. https://t.co/xLPDvkJIhv 🥳👏 #ASBA #education #celebrate #students pic.twitter.com/uqBDZClUOS— azsba (@AzSBA) January 11, 2023
Flagstaff Unified School District Board Member Dorothy Denetsosie Gishie said she serves as a school board member because “my parents have taught me, and role modeled for me to be involved in my community.”
This “is where my children and grandchildren live. Being involved in the community creates a safe space for them,” said Denetsosie Gishie, who also serves as Coconino County Director for ASBA.
Glendale Elementary School District celebrated their board members with a large display of thank you cards created by students and staff, created signs with their images, and sang “We Are Family” to them.
It’s National School Board Appreciation Month! We appreciate our amazing @GESD40 Governing Board! Meet the Fabulous Five! Members Jaramillo, Wilson, Pimentel, Clerk Bartels and President Martinez! @AzSBA pic.twitter.com/Od9vIspSaR— Cindy Segotta Jones (@SegottaJones) January 14, 2023
“The reason why I feel it’s important for me to serve as a school board member is to help parents and students improve student achievement,” said Yulonda Boutte, Sierra Vista Unified School District Governing Board Member.
“It’s important to share the issues that we face in our county, and also to share the success we have in our county with education,” said Boutte, Cochise County Director for ASBA.
Chandler Unified School District thanked board members with a large banner and giant posters from students in the schools they serve displayed in the board meeting room.
January is School Board Member Appreciation Month. Governing Board members are elected officials who volunteer their time to serve. They do not receive payment. To our current Board and former members, thanks for your service and dedication to CUSD! #WeAreChandlerUnified pic.twitter.com/tZ54eNAg8A— Chandler Unified School District (@ChandlerUnified) January 19, 2023
“I try to keep the best interests of our students and staff always at the forefront of people’s minds,” said Wendy Effing, Flowing Wells Unified School District Governing Board member.
“I always want to do what is best for kids to give them every chance to succeed in life, whatever path they may choose,” said Effing, Pima County Co-Director for ASBA.
Agua Fria Union High School District celebrated their school board members through their social media posts.
“If you want to be part of a greater good, work as a team, and support the district throughout your community, there’s probably nothing more rewarding than the opportunity to be a school board member,” said Steve Johnson, a former Florence Unified School District Board Member and Pinal County Director for ASBA.