A Challenge Met

Norm Wooten, AASB Executive Director

As we think back over the last several months, it’s difficult to remember what “normal” looks and feels like. It seems as if we’ve been in this “new world” for a lifetime. 

For most of us in education, the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality when we had to close the schoolhouse doors. As AASB began to brainstorm on how best to serve our members, we quickly concluded that we could be the most help by doing what we have always done – being a resource for school board members.
We looked to our mission statement for reassurance that this would be effective: “AASB advocates for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing a quality education focused on student achievement through effective local governance.” 

Our staff immediately began to reach out to our members, partners, and colleagues through webinars, Zoom meetings, email, and social media to help keep everyone advised of a torrent of new developments, and support the swift transformations districts and schools were undergoing. Most of AASB’s services have been transitioned online, and we’re working hard to improve and expand our support offerings.

We also determined that Commentary would be published weekly rather than the usual monthly edition. Our reasoning was that information was flowing so rapidly that board members needed that constant flow to help them in their governance role. It was a challenge for our small staff, but the feedback you provided reinforced our decision. As the school year ends, we will put the Commentary to bed for the summer and give all of us a much-needed break, even as planning begins for the 2020/2021 school year.

When I think about the support school board members provided for students in every Alaska school district, I am humbled and proud to work for you all. This is not what you signed up for when you first ran for election! 

You had a plethora of seemingly endless regular and special board meetings. You had an overload of decisions to make. You set aside policies to meet the needs of students. You were continually making budget adjustments for everything from feeding students, purchasing technology, approving arrangements to get staff back into your community, approving additional curricular materials, and plowing through mountains of paperwork learning about federal and state programs. 

And not a single school board member resigned because the work was too hard.

You supported your students, your teachers, your administrators, your superintendent, your support staff, your paraprofessionals, custodial and maintenance workers, and the parents of your students. You did exactly what you were elected to do – you made sure your student’s education continued throughout the pandemic. 

Take a moment and give each of your colleagues a social distance thumbs up for a collective job well done. And when we’re again able, give each other a hug. Excellent work school board members!


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