‘The most rewarding thing I’ve ever done’

By 7:35pm PST June 05, 2019

Current school board members reflect on their journeys to inspire others.

“It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” she said. “I love the idea that as a school board member, I can focus on one thing. All my attention goes to the schools.”

Inspiring People to Get Involved

A Deep Commitment to the Community’s Young People

“They kept saying, ‘We need people! We need people!” she said. “Finally, I ran out of excuses. And I have never regretted it.”

The rewards have been great, she said. As a board member, she’s fought for infrastructure improvements and seen graduation rates increase to 94.4 percent, among the highest rates in the state. She’s also supported theBartleby program at Elizabethton High, a student-designed program focused on community improvement and entrepreneurship that grew from two courses to a schoolwide effort to rethink high school.

“When you change high school, it really is a fulcrum,” she said. “Our junior high and even our elementary school are starting to do the same things our high school is doing. We’re even seeing the community get involved.”

High school transformation is what’s motivating Ashney Shelly to get involved with the school board in her hometown of Cold Spring, Texas. Shelly, a high school counselor and future law student who attended the SXSWEDU panel last week, hopes to bring her expertise and enthusiasm to benefit young people in her community. She’s even considering a run for school board herself, in the coming years.

Transparency and Communication

“I decided to run because I wanted to give something back to the community I grew up in,” he said. “I wanted to help provide students with the same opportunities I had, so they’ll be prepared for the 21st century and get the skills they need to succeed.”

For him, the key to being a successful school board member is transparency and communication. It helps him forge strong relationships with the community and ultimately makes him a more effective board member, he said.

Former Senior Writer, XQ Institute