“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead

Although sometimes perceived as a “thankless” job, the job of a school board is critical, valuable and essential to the success and pulse of a district and community. Asking someone to run for the local school board may seem like a daunting task, but rather than asking and advertising, spend your efforts educating and encouraging potential school board candidates. Sharing the positive opportunities of school board membership is beneficial, but it is also helpful to address these essential characteristics:

Being informed. An active school board member seeks growth and understanding through an effort of study and learning. Before meetings, school board members must be prepared and knowledgeable of board agendas and inquire if clarification is needed. Training, workshops and webinars can provide school board members with resources and updated information regarding school issues. Because a school board member serves all students in a community, they must be knowledgeable of the district and local area.

Being objective. It can be challenging to balance passion and logic. At times, school boards have to make difficult decisions regarding controversial topics. Most school board members are engaged and strong voiced community members. Being objective is key to making well-informed and well-rounded decisions.

Being committed. The time commitment for school board members can vary, but in general, school boards have one or two meetings a month, in addition to committees, work sessions and events. Most board members find they must change their schedules in some way to fulfill school board responsibilities. Board service gives the individual a real sense of purpose.

Being accountable. The board, collectively and individually, takes full responsibility for board practices. Following policies, working together as a team, valuing and respecting each other’s opinions and following confidentiality and other laws are just a few ways school board members demonstrate responsibility and build trust with the community. This promotes a culture of unity and support for the district.

Being open. A board member who wishes to serve the community must be willing to listen to and engage with community members as well as collaborate with fellow board members and the superintendent. Progress is made through open communication and exchange of ideas, even when opinions may be drastically different. Effective board members place the needs of the district and community above their own.

Being. Nothing worthwhile is achieved with ease. Being a school board member can be a challenge, but it is an incredibly rewarding experience and one that can help positively impact students and community. Being a school board member is not just a job or a Monday night task. Being a school board member is a way of listening, a way of speaking, a way of doing—a way of being.