In this presidential election year, most of us have been understandably focused on the politicians and public servants who represent us at the national level. However, thousands of public servants around the country serve in governing boards and municipalities in leadership roles that arguably have more impact on our everyday lives.

Our school board is one of those critical groups of local leaders. Forest Lake Area School Board members are essential to creating a thriving, effective public education system, which is a cornerstone of a vibrant community.

Our seven-member school board serves on behalf of the community to provide district leadership that ensures a quality education and high achievement for students. They look out for the interests of students, parents and staff, but also for the community as a whole to ensure that our school district is a quality asset for all who live or own businesses here.

Our school board members clearly understand their role. Julie Corcoran, who has been a long-standing member of the school board said: “Board members are the critical link between the classroom and the community. Only together can we succeed.”

This sentiment reflects the quality leadership of our school board. They understand that their role is to provide support for school staff, while also continually challenging school staff and leaders to do their best work for students.

“I see my job as helping ensure that our schools are always turning towards a better education for kids,” said board member Rob Rapheal. “This might be by ensuring our buildings are the right space for learning or ensuring that kids have equitable access to a good education.”

Board members spend countless hours in their work on behalf of the community. Beyond the regularly scheduled School Board meetings, board members also represent the district at other meetings of community groups and municipal governments. They also support students by attending various activities, concerts, sporting events, and more. They receive a small stipend each year for their service, in an amount that barely covers their mileage driving to and from various events and meetings. It truly is a labor of love.

Gail Theisen, a board member who recently won election to a third term said: “I enjoy being active in the many communities that encompass Forest Lake Area Schools. My desire has always been to engage, listen and communicate with my constituents as we continue to strengthen and build upon the work we have accomplished together.”

On a personal note, the board members of Forest Lake Area Schools, Kate Luthner, Jeff Peterson, Rob Rapheal, Julie Corcoran, Gail Theisen, Jill Olson and Alex Keto, are some of the most supportive, thoughtful and high-quality leaders I’ve had the privilege to work with. Their dedication to our schools and our community is admirable. I would like to thank these members for their service and leadership. Their contribution to our schools truly makes a difference for our students.

Steve Massey is the Superintendent of Forest Lake Area Schools.

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