This election ballot includes the selection of seats on the Nodaway-Holt, North Nodaway, West Nodaway and Northeast Nodaway school boards of education.
South Nodaway BOE held a non-election as there were only three candidates who filed for the three open seats.
Nodaway-Holt, North Nodaway and Northeast Nodaway have three open seats, while West Nodaway board has two open seats.
The Nodaway News Leader administered surveys and collected photos from willing candidates earlier in March; however decided to hold the information closer to election day for publication.
The candidates answered the following questions:
1. Why are you running for your school district’s board?
2. What difference do you hope to make by being a part of the board?
3. How is your experience – or lack of – a plus or minus for the board?
4. What assets do you think your district has to offer the students and community?
5. What is one of the biggest problems you see currently facing your district?
6. What would you do to fix those problems?
7. Any other information you wish to share about yourself or the school district?
Hanson, 43, has lived in the N-H school district for 17 years and has served on the BOE for six years. She and her husband, Mike, live east of Graham on the family farm along with their two children. Clay is a freshman and Paige is a seventh grader at Nodaway-Holt. She noted, “being involved in the community is very important to me, and I have had the privilege to serve our school district as a board member two previous terms.”
1. Serving on the board is a responsibility I take seriously and I would be honored to have the opportunity of another term. I do my best to look at topics and issues from all angles, ask questions to seek understanding and do what’s best for the students in our community.
2. I want to help create a school environment that makes our students and community proud. I want our kids to thrive in the classroom, learn about healthy competition in athletics and ultimately be prepared for life after high school graduation.
3. I understand the reasoning for past and current projects. I am not afraid to ask questions or dig deeper into issues.
4. Our school is in a really positive place right now. We are lucky to have a very supportive community and a dedicated administration that wants to see our students succeed. There was overwhelming support of the building addition and it is so exciting to see our junior high and high school kids getting the opportunity to learn in such a modern space. Our administration and teachers are doing a great job improving the school culture and getting our students in all grades interested in learning.
5. We have to continue to challenge our students so they can be successful after high school graduation. They need to be prepared for next steps, whether it’s college, vocational education, military, etc.
6. Build upon the base that we have and not be afraid to look at new learning tools, such as a STEAM room.
Fuhrman, 58, has lived in the district for 28 years and has served on the school board for six years. He is a 1979 Nodaway-Holt graduate and has a bachelor of science degree in ag economy from the University of Missouri. He is the father of four children and has two grandchildren.
1. I would like to see the kids of the community to get the best instruction possible with the best facilities we can provide.
2. Currently I am the delegate for the district for the Missouri School Boards Association. I would continue to advocate for the kids.
3. After college, I worked for the FDIC, then quality assurance and production services for Seitz, Sara Lee, Hillshire Farms and am currently farming. Those experiences should help.
4. Great teachers, staff and administration; plus newer facilities.
6. Budget and to make sure the funds we receive are put to their highest and best use.
Jenkins, 39, has lived in the district for 16 years and has never been on the BOE. He is a 2000 graduate of Jefferson and is the son of Marilyn Jenkins and Curt and Linda Jenkins. He is married to Karlene Nelson-Jenkins, a 2001 Nodaway-Holt alumni, and have children, Kloe, 16, Preston, 13, Miley, nine and Hadley, six.
He shared, “We have always encouraged our children to take an active role in all of the activities that the school offers. Even if there is an activity that they are not necessarily enjoying, they don’t have to ever participate again, but they would finish out their original obligation. I have assisted with baseball coaching for the ball association ever since Kloe started playing t-ball and have helped with all four of my children. I have coached fourth, fifth, and sixth grade boys and girls basketball consecutively for many years. Our junior high/high school teams can’t be competitive if they don’t learn the fundamentals at a young age and learn how to handle a basketball. I’m from Jefferson, it isn’t something that we ever questioned. I am also a volunteer on the Skidmore Volunteer Fire Department, and a first responder for the Nodaway County Rescue Squad #140 Unit, based out of Burlington Jct. My wife and I also own and operate a lawn mowing business.
1. I am running for the school board because our kids are worth it. As much as I love watching and playing sports I want to know that even though we are a small community, all of our kids in the district are getting a good education that they can be proud of and the ability to go onto a future career.
2. A difference I hope to make being part of the board if I am elected once I understand all of the elements is to help reinforce all of the good things that our district is doing and bring a different perspective that no one else has with my different life experiences.
3. How is my experience a plus or minus for the board? I have a variety of experiences that I think are a plus for the board. I also feel that I am vested into this community with my four children and feel that failure is not an option for anyone’s kids, especially if they are putting forth the effort. I understand that there are rules and regulations as a board we will need to follow. There are also codes of ethics and basic morals and values that also come into play. Working as an assistant maintenance supervisor and now as a supervisor being conscious of following laws and budgets will be very similar to what the school has to operate on and with. My wife and I currently have children at all stages of schooling so that makes us hypersensitive to what is going on from the classroom to the cafeteria to even the library. With having four children, they all have different learning styles and interests. I myself was not a classroom student and was more interested in playing basketball and was in the vo-tech program for two years in Maryville. I was not in a position where I was going to go to a four year school. I truly value the opportunity I had to attend vo-tech. However my daughter, Kloe, is the exact opposite from me wants to attend UMKC to become a pharmacist in two years after high school. I see the importance of math and science and don’t want our school lacking in these subjects. My son, Preston, is similar to me and is more interested with working with his hands. I think a huge piece I bring is the eclectic pieces of importance and dual understanding of all parts. My wife is a musician and plays the piano and violin. She loves the fine arts and has had a lot of great opportunities because of that also. We live in a farming community and even though I am personally not a farmer, my father-in-law is and has taught me a lot about it and how reliant of it we are. My own dad has worked at LMP for almost 40 years. There is a need for people willing to do manual labor and able to be mechanics. The list of items that I an connected to and have a down-to-earth understanding of goes on and on.
4. Assets that I think we have to bring is that we have a lot of people who are willing to re-invest themselves into our community. If you look at the staff we currently have there is a large number that are former alumni. That says a lot about how they care about this district. Another asset is when you have an administrator willing to move into the district and build a new home. That says a lot about what they are willing to put back into our district. That also says they are here to stay. We’ve had a lot of retirees the last several years so hopefully some of our non-alumni will follow suit. Our facilities are relatively up to date. They’ve had the new addition at Graham and are physically trying to stay ahead of the wear and tear. I think a good example of the assets has also been the extent that the “un-certified” “non-teachers” have done during this COVID-19 shut-down by coming in everyday and having meals at three facilities for kids. I know this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the district, but it was your paras, cooks, building secretaries, nurse, custodians, maintenance, & computer support who followed through with it. Some of the best assets are the ones you don’t always see.
5. One of the biggest problems I’ve seen has been the inability for administration to truly punish out-of-control, beyond disrespectful, behaviors. This also goes back to mental health. I have talked with other parents and I am aware our district is not alone, but when one student is continually harassing and threatening another student even after multiple complaints have been made, there is physical evidence, law enforcement has been made aware and there are social media threats, when does it ever stop? Parents need to step up and not let their kids govern them. How are these kids ever going to function in society if they can’t even get through a day of school without making an excuse to skip out of a class because they didn’t feel like going? The staff needs some extra mental health support. After these kids being cooped up through this COVID-19 crisis and only having access to the internet and not true social interaction what are they going to be like when they try to return to school? Mental health challenges related to anxiety, depression, self image, etc.; being a kid is hard enough. Have parents been truly monitoring what their kids have been doing while they’ve had all this access to the internet? Do parents really know what is on TikTok? I know the budgets are going to be tighter, but with the mental health challenges that these students already face and with all the negative social media information that they have been exposed to, they might be scared to be around other people, when they may have only been around immediate family for the last months.
6. I think a way to get ahead of this is to consider getting a part-time counselor or social worker. Maybe other districts are going to have the same concern and this person can split their time between two districts to assist the full time counselor with her already full duties.
Eddie Stiens and Nick Madden are also on the Nodaway-Holt board of education ballot. They did not submit the completed survey and photo to be published.
Leslie Wilmes, 35, has lived in the school district for 12 years and has not served on the BOE before. She and her husband, Craig Wilmes, who is a lifelong resident of Ravenwood, have two daughters, Aubrey and Emma. The girls are in first grade. Wilmes has served as the treasurer for the Ravenwood Community Betterment and the Ravenwood Festival and secretary for the NEN Foundation.
1. NEN is a great school district. I want to help position it for continued and successful future.
2. I am a good listener and willing to assess everyone’s concerns.
3. A portion of my daily duties as HR Director include problem solving and interviewing applicants which will help serve on the Board. I have also worked in customer service and in the community my entire life.
4. We have small class sizes and the ability to have more one-on-one with students. We also have a friendly faculty and staff. NEN is also part of the NASA program.
5. As problems arise, I hope to work as a team with fellow school board members to resolve the issues.
7. I truly appreciate everyone’s support!
Redden, 42, has lived in the school district all of his life and has served on the BOE for nine years. He noted, “I graduated from Northeast Nodaway in 1988. I married my wife, DeAnn, in 1995. We have raised our four children, Holly, Emily, Cassy, and Jake, on a farm outside of Ravenwood. Holly and Emily have graduated, Cassy is a junior and Jake is in seventh grade at Northeast Nodaway. Next year, our granddaughter will start preschool at NEN.
1. I am running for the school board because I want to continue to make sure our school is the best it can be, for students and staff, and thrive in the future.
2. I hope to ensure the students and staff have the necessary tools available to get the best education possible.
3. Having nine years experience on the board gives me the ability to make good, common-sense decisions. I have first-hand knowledge of the issues the school district is facing and I am ready to work with the rest of the school board members to continue to improve our school for the future.
4. Our school district has a great facility and a great staff! We have great people in the community that support our students in everything they do. The community sees that we need a good plan for moving forward for the future of our school.
5. One of the biggest problems we see facing our district right now is the ability to find qualified applicants when positions come open.
6. To fix the problem, we need to work hard to keep our salaries competitive and have good support for our teachers in place. These are very important pieces in retaining good teachers.
Atkins, 56, has not served on the BOE before. Atkins tells, “I have lived in the Northeast Nodaway school district for most of my life and graduated from NEN in 1981. I have been married to my wife Julie for almost 20 years and have two children, Chase, 17, and Jaden, 14. We live on the family farm west of Ravenwood. I worked for Energizer for 28 years, but now am at Northwest Missouri State and have always have farmed.
1. To do my best to be involved in the success of the students, making sure they have the knowledge and skills needed to be college ready or prepared to enter the work force.
2. I hope to help attract highly qualified teachers to our school and keep them.
3. Since I would be a new member, my hope would be to provide a new perspective on various situations.
4. A safe learning environment and teachers who care about the success of their students. Our community has always been very supportive of our school.
5. Funding is always an obstacle and our district is the same.
6. As a new member, I would be opened to learning of all options that would be available.
Coffelt, 29, has lived in the NEN district for 20 years and has never served on the BOE. Coffelt shares, “I have always been business-minded whether it be me running the family farm operation, building a book of business or starting my own business. I graduated from NEN in 2009. Around 2011, I enlisted in the Air National Guard for six years. During that time I worked on the family farm and Tri-State Ford. In 2014, I married my wife, Valerie Coffelt. In 2017, I graduated with my business degree from the University of Phoenix. We have two sons; Graham is four and Grant will be two in May. We just recently moved back on the family farm and opened a dealership of our own. I wanted to find a way to give back to the community along with my expertise with the car business. Anyone who knows me and knows my family knows that we are there for anyone that needs help. I think those values are what we need to bring back to our community.”
1. I am running for my school district board because I think everyone should be on a board at least once in their life to see how things are run from a different perspective.
2. I hope that I can learn the first year as far as how it is operated before I see if there is anything that I can do to make a difference.
3. My experience has always been business oriented. I think that you have to have business there as well as core values.
4. The assets that my district has to offer the students and community seem limitless with the right plan. For instance, right now the bus routes are delivering food to the kids. That is an awesome idea for the time we are in.
5. I can’t say that I can see any problems currently facing my district because I have not been aware of issues.
6. If a problem does arrive there are ways to assess the situation and make a plan and act the plan.
7. I look forward to going through this process and learning more about how I can benefit the school district for my children and other children as well.
Busby, 42, has lived in the NEN district all of her life and has never served on the BOE. She says, “I grew up on the family hog farm outside of Ravenwood. I am a 1996 graduate of NEN; Husband Brad is a 1994 graduate of NEN; Baylie Busby, 13, is now in the seventh grade at NEN; Bexlie Busby, six, is in the first grade at NEN; Twin older brothers are 1989 graduates of NEN, Quentin and Clint Meyer; Jeremy Meyer, brother, is a 1998 graduate of NEN; Janice Meyer, mother, 1964 graduate of NEN.”
1. I want my kids and other students to have what I had which are great teachers who are willing to help any students at any time, with any kind of problem they may have. I want teachers to focus on students’ achievements so they can make it in the changing world we are in, and help these through any failures. I want the students and teachers to be successful.
2. I want to continue and improve the quality of education the school is providing.
3. Being a part of the board will be like being on a new team. Most of my experience will be from my nursing background where you have to be a team player with many different people in different areas to come to a goal by working toward and solving problems.
4. We may be a small district but there are several assets it offers such as the businesses in town, old and new, there are several people who are entrepreneurs the students can learn from, and the older generation who is from the district who would have a lot of knowledge. Other assets would include the churches, organizations and groups.
5. I don’t feel there’s a large problem at this time. I feel a large challenge we have and everyone else has is the continued evolving technology that happens daily in the real world. Such as in farming and nursing, new technology comes out so often we are constantly learning new ways to do the same things.
6. We have to continue to improve our technology learning to keep up with the technology world we live in. For example, in some areas now, they are offering doctors visits through chat/conferencing rather than physically going to the doctor’s office to see them. So we are going to have to know how to connect and make that happen and there would have to be upcoming students wanting to learn more about computers to be able to get IT jobs after high school with the computers offering this service.
Blackford, 40, has lived in the district for 18 years and has never served on the BOE before. He and his wife, Courtney, moved to Hopkins shortly after their marriage as he noted, “We instantly loved the small town atmosphere. Members of the community were extremely helpful and friendly so Courtney and I decided Hopkins was the perfect place to start a family. We have been able to raise two wonderful boys, Andrew and Aydan. Courtney is currently employed through the North Nodaway School District and I’m employed at Kawasaki Motors in Maryville.”
1. I feel now is the right time to help invest into what is best for the students and administration for the North Nodaway School District. We have an opportunity to look at many improvements for the students to help them prepare for the future.
2. I feel I have a great mix of how the school system works and have good relationships with the members throughout the community. With this I wish to improve student participation in school activities.
3. My leadership abilities that I have gained through my current employment will help me make clear and decisive decisions on the school board.
4. Small class sizes help students get the attention needed for classwork. The small school size helps the parents and community understand and know each other compared to larger school districts.
5. Administration turnover will always be a priority to look into. I would like for our Teacher and Administration Member salaries to be raised to attract and maintain staffing. This builds consistency for the students.
6. There are projects around the community and area that can help direct money for these priorities.
Halvin, 41, has lived in the NN school district for 25-plus years and has never served on the BOE before. She is a graduate of NN and her children have been students at NN since they moved backed to the district four years ago with one child in elementary and two children in middle school.
1. I would like to be involved in the policy/procedure process. I believe investing time in our students’ education and future is important and I would like to be a part of this.
2. I would like to see that decisions are made in the students’ best interests.
3. I have not served on the board, however, I do have good relationships and communication with the staff at NN.
4. NN is a small school within a small community. This gives an opportunity for students to directly contribute and develop a strong bond with the school and community.
5. Economic challenges that affect staffing and funding across the board at NN.
6. I would need more information and to be familiar with procedures and policies to answer this question. Being a part of addressing these issues is why I am running for the school board.
7. If elected to the board I will do my best to serve.
Dobbins, 45, has lived in the NN district for 18 years and has never served on the BOE before. Dobbins tells of her family, “My oldest son started preschool at Pickering Elementary. My husband joined active Army and we moved around per military orders. We returned home for our three children to go to school back at North Nodaway through graduation. We try to participate in any and all community and school fundraising and events to support our district and families in anyway possible.”
1. I want to serve in anyway I am able.
2. I hope to be a fresh set of eyes and ears in hopes of bringing community together for the continued well being of our school and building our community.
3. I feel that the board has many very experienced and great members and I hope to get the chance to work with them and learn from the wealth of knowledge they already have.
4. That we are like-minded in wanting to provide the best education and provide every opportunity to reach long term success in any and all future endeavors.
5. The lunch schedule.
6. Look at re-configuring the lunch breaks. Possibly adding an additional time so less kids are trying to get through at the same time.
7. My biggest desire is to see unity in the community. Helping our neighbors, getting to know one another.
Brown, 42, has lived in the district for 25 years and she just marked 13 years on the school board this past April. She is married with three children. Saylor is a sophomore, Saryn eighth grade and Stetsyn is in sixth grade. They have attended North Nodaway all of their school years. Her husband, Steven, is from Hopkins and is engaged in farming. She has her doctorate degree in nursing practice and works as a nurse practitioner.
1. My service as a board member allows me to contribute to the improvement of our school as well as our community and since my children attend North Nodaway this allows me to be a part of their education and also provides me with a personal interest in improving the quality of our school district.
2. As a board member I focus on what is best for the students, all students, not just the athletes or the scholars. I grew up in a small rural community with a great school in the sense of building structure as well as administration and faculty and I want the same for my own children; to feel safe at school and to know they have teachers and administrators that will be there for them and guide them, even after they graduate.
3. As already mentioned, I have been on the board for a number of years and I have witnessed the energy, compassion and collaboration our administration and staff put forth to provide our students with educational opportunities as well as personal growth. My prior experience on the school board has allowed me to gain tremendous knowledge about school budgeting and finance.
4. Here at North Nodaway we have a great group of educators, administrators and support staff. As most already know the district will be receiving funds from the newly-erected wind farm in the county. These funds are going to be a huge asset to our district. We will be able to carry out some of the plans and goals we have created over the years to enhance the district.
5. Three issues we face as a district are teacher retention, funding and the lack of bus drivers.
6. The issue with funding will somewhat be alleviated with the wind farm funds; however, we have to keep in mind the decisions we as a board make have to be ones we can sustain once wind farm monies are exhausted in approximately 20 years. We have been working on raising our base teacher salary to be competitive with other schools in our area; we are not at the bottom of the list and we are not at the top of the list either. Our district is currently seeking bus driver candidates!
Clements, 37, has lived in the NN district for 14 years and has never served on the BOE before. She is a graduate of Worth County RIII and married into a large family of North Nodaway alumni. She noted “We have two boys that attend North Nodaway School district; my oldest in the sixth grade and youngest in the third. I am in my 17th year at Kawasaki Motors manufacturing as a production supervisor.”
1. To get more involved in the community.
2. By bringing a different opinion to the table I hope to work with the other members in a constructive way to make sure our district keeps working towards the vision we have established for our schools
3. As a supervisor at Kawasaki I am in a position in leading a diverse group of individuals which allows me to see things from different perspectives. This has taught me good listening skills, the ability to communicate with others and think outside the box. Working several years with diverse groups, I have learned to bring people together to work towards common goals.
4. We have a small-town caring district that I believe has a strong special education department. We have had the experience with working with this department at the elementary level to make sure our youngest child is getting everything he needs to succeed. I also believe we have some very strong educators that strengthen our schools.
5. I have concerns about losing educators to other districts. I would like to help ensure the district is giving them every opportunity they can to encourage them to stay.
6. Find the source of what makes the educators want to leave and ask ourselves what we can do to encourage them to stay.
7. I am excited for the opportunity to serve as a voice between the community and districts. I am also excited to learn more about the school board and doing my part in keeping our schools moving forward towards the districts mission.
Thompson, 49, has lived in the NN district for over 40 years and has served on the BOE for three years. He graduated from North Nodaway as did both of his daughters; plus his parents.
1. As everyone knows the small schools are all struggling with getting new families in the district. I hope the board can work with the administration to expand the curriculum to offer more class variation.
2. I think our small class sizes offer more one-on-one time for the teachers and students. We have several young teachers that relate to the kids and what they are going through.
Brady, 46, has lived in the WN district for 16 years and has served on the BOE for nine years. His wife, Brandy, is a graduate of WN and their three children have either graduated or are attending WN currently.
1. Everyone should be able to find a way to contribute to their community. Serving the district is very fulfilling for me. Being a small part of helping students to be their best is very rewarding.
2. The same I feel I have brought to the board in the past. Our district is full of differing perspectives. I like to think I bring an ear for listening to them all to reach the best course for our students.
3. My time on the board has been a learning experience since day one. This has taught me that if you ever decided you know all you need to know then you are limiting your own ability. I certainly see what the board has given me as positive and I hope the district sees that as well. My professional life has aided me in this as well. Lessons come at you everyday as long as you can see them.
4. I have been and always will love the dedication that our faculty and staff show towards our kids. As a small district we will always have our struggles but we, the district, are there for them. This isn’t limited to the walls of our school. The district is more than its buildings and buses. Our community has always been there for us and when help is needed we are there for them.
5. Beyond the funding issues that plague most districts our size, I would say tailoring ourselves to be what the student of tomorrow needs. Understanding that we are helping to prepare students for a future that may take them anywhere doing anything. Identifying the resources that each student needs to excel is difficult. But it is our duty to make sure they have the tools for anything in this ever-changing world.
6. Education has and should always remain multi-dimensional. We of course should always seek to reinforce the basics through finding and taking advantage of continuing education for not just our students but our educators. In addition I hope that our district can seek out more of the specific skills that can strengthen the interests of the individual student. Now more than ever we need to see our kids as the wonderful individuals they are. We have to be willing to give them the resources they need to take that path and make it their own.
7. I’ve been very fortunate that my community has trusted me to share this responsibility. When Brandy and I chose to move to the district it was a commitment not only in where our kids would attend school but in where our own dedication would lie. We have a great district here at West Nodaway. It takes work though. It’s work that I have been and continue to be very grateful to be part of. I look forward to serving the community in the future.
Dawson offered the following instead of filling out the survey directly. “My family has been deeply rooted in the Burlington Jct community and the West Nodaway School District. My husband, Corey, and I graduated from West Nodaway in 1997. Our children, Hunter, a sophomore, and Haylee, a sixth grader, are West Nodaway students.
“We are members of the West Nodaway Booster Club and actively participate in community betterment opportunities.
“There are a few reasons why I am running for our local school board. I have been approached by numerous patrons of the district to run for the board of education. After careful consideration, I feel that this is the time for me to give back to our school and community in another facet by running for the board. I would like to see our district promoted in a positive light and be able to recruit and maintain quality instructors and administrators.
“I feel that I can bring enthusiasm to our district as well as a fresh concept of potential district needs. I will be open and willing to rationally discuss concerns brought before me by school personnel in a confidential manner. I feel that a school board should hire the most qualified and competent administrators to handle the day-to-day operations of the district. Although athletics are important and bring recognition to a district, I would like to see more focus put on academics, test prep and scores, and college preparedness.
“Although I have not served on the school board, I feel that I can bring a wealth of experience to our board. I have worked at IAMO Communications since graduating from high school. During those 22 years, I have worked closely with other employees to bring an atmosphere of cooperation, consensus, and enjoyment to the workplace. My duties are to tend to customer needs and to assist them in resolving any issues that they may have. Technology has changed rapidly over the years; we have in-service training to update us on the changes so that we can, in turn, be more able to assist our clientele. I do feel that my work experience will be beneficial to our school board and district.
“The West Nodaway school district boasts wonderful facilities with an abundance of parking available on-site for school activities, whether it be sporting events, academic contests, performances, graduation, etc. Our district also has small class sizes, especially in the elementary grades where students receive individual attention from instructors and paras. The school administration quickly makes our buildings and facilities available for community events ranging from Farmers’ Fall Festival contests to memorial/funeral services. Teachers keep abreast of technological updates and computers are readily available to our students with many of the computer programs student run.
“There are a few issues that currently face our district: declining enrollment, inferior state funding and hiring and maintaining fully certified, strong instructors with high student expectations.
“To attract top instructors and administrators, we need to showcase our beautiful campus, increase the base salary, and continue to work to incorporate a pleasant and safe atmosphere for our students, faculty, and personnel. As for funding issue, I would certainly encourage the administration and faculty to search for grants to subsidize funding for our classrooms, playground, and other programs.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have encouraged me in this endeavor and look forward to the opportunity to serve our school district and community. I’m asking for your vote. Thank you!”
Dennis Chitwood is also on the BOE ballot but did not submit a completed survey and photo.