Tim Rogers syas that joining the Creswell School Board six years ago was a way for him to serve his hometown. From science guy to educator, his passion has always been to help students and serve his community, he said. Photo provided
”Service” is an action that resonates with Tim Rogers. From his religious beliefs to his employment at Northwest Christian University, which has ”service” in its motto, the word is close to his heart.
It is also illustrative of his work in education, which started in 2007 after a career change. Beyond working as the science lab manager at NCU where he helps students, Rogers has served on the Creswell School Board for six years; he ran for reelection in May but was unseated by Debi Wilkerson.
”My interest in joining the Creswell School Board came as a result of my employment at NCU,” Rogers explained, ”In 2012, I was very simply looking for a way to serve my home community of Creswell, and with my knowledge of education, the Creswell School Board seemed to be a good fit.”
His interest also began when he saw NCU freshmen that he didn’t think were as ready for college as they could have been. He said that he was also concerned that Oregon’s high school graduation rate wasn’t high enough, and he continued to think about what happened to the students who dropped out.
”I hate losing students,” he said. ”Our graduation rate isn’t 100%, and even if it’s (all but) two – what happened with those two? What didn’t we do? I don’t just mean as a board member, but as a community or a society, what didn’t we do? That’s our responsibility.”
Before Rogers got involved in education, he worked as a lab manager in the paint industry. When the recession hit, he got a job at Oregon State University and managed the chemistry supply stock room, where he interacted with and helped students. He said it was fun and fascinating to watch the light bulb go off in their heads when they figured something out.
”I doubt any of my chemical formulations from my paint days still exist,” he said, ”but I have a few students that are still in touch with me. It’s not many, but there’s been a few souls that I’ve done some things right and have helped them. I think making a mark on another human being and helping them along the way…when I look back, I can say there’s a handful of people who are better off because of me; it means I did something right.”
This passion to help students is one of Rogers’ driving factors. His mission being on the board is providing the tools that are needed for the most effective learning to occur, which includes a safe environment for everyone to learn in.
Since he first started to show interest with the board – even before he was elected onto it – Rogers has never missed a single board meeting.
Although there have been some challenges along the way, one of the difficulties that come with being a board member is the misconception that the position has individual authority, when it doesn’t. The board only functions as a group and its duties only include: hiring a superintendent (who then hires the other staff), setting board policy and advocacy on behalf of the school district.
”While I firmly believe being a member of the Creswell School Board is a significant responsibility, it comes with very little authority, and that is a surprise to many,” he explained.
To combat that miscommunication, Rogers said the responsibility is twofold and the key is communication, both between the board and the community and between the school district and the community.
”People need to step up and say, ‘I’m interested,’” he said. ”I highly encourage people who don’t have time to go to meetings to go online and look at past minutes: What has your school board been doing?”
Despite the challenges that come with the job, in the six years that he’s been involved Rogers said there were multiple accomplishments that he was proud to be a part of. The board completed a policy update conducted in conjunction with the Oregon School Boards Association, which ensured compliance with state regulations and clarity on board procedures. They helped develop a district bus replacement schedule, implemented uploading meeting minutes online and – his proudest accomplishment – hiring the new superintendent.
”We cast a wide net, brought in input from the entire community, and found an excellent new superintendent in Mr. Mike Johnson,” he said.
Even when The Creswell Chronicle and the board were at odds about executive meeting policy, Rogers said he was proud that he and another board member sat down and communicated the best ways to resolve the issue and move forward.
His biggest advice to new school board members is to take at least the Bronze Certification training course at OSBA’s website. During his tenure, Rogers reached Platinum certification but he said that every board member should at least get Bronze. The certification focuses on board basics, such as policy, law and advocacy.
”(They) will have a greater grasp of what a board can and cannot do, and understand the slippery slope of what a board should and shouldn’t do,” he said.
Although Rogers would have wanted to continue his service to the school board, he isn’t planning on stepping away from education anytime soon. He said there’s a potential Site Council position opening up at Creswell Middle School that he might apply for if it comes available, as well as working with both Creswell Boosters programs.
When asked if he would run for the school board again, Rogers said that if he didn’t want to serve, he wouldn’t have run in the past election.
”If the opportunity comes up,” he said, ”I’ll serve.”