Creswell, Education

Anderson believes third stint as Board Chair will be the charm

CRESWELL – Even with his six years of experience as a school board member, Mike Anderson admitted that he still gets a little nervous before each meeting. Voted in as chair for the 2019-20 school year, this will be Anderson’s third time in the role, and he’s excited about what the new year will offer.
“We got a really good superintendent and a good group of people coming on the Board,” Anderson said. “As far as the day-to-day, we don’t do much. We look after (new Superintendent) Mike (Johnson) and make a few decisions. Myself, (I want to) try to be more a part of what’s going on at the schools and visit them more. More of a handshake and pat them on the back, encourage them, since we have so many new faces this year.”
Anderson graduated from Oregon State University in 1971 and joined the wood products industry, in which he continues to work. He refereed high school football for 28 years, and when he moved from Eugene to Creswell he wanted to get back into the community; he was a Creswell city councilor for three years, from July 2010 to March 2013.
“It was awful,” he said. “Never again.”
But when a position came up with the school board, he said he was initially talked into it, but has found that he has really enjoyed it.
“It’s my turn to help,” he said. “We put in a lot of time, but it’s the superintendent and staff who really do the work.”
Anderson said he is looking forward to working with Johnson. Picking the superintendent was an important decision, he said, and he’s “tickled to death” that he could be involved in it.
He added that Johnson is working on a plan to involve the City and community of Creswell with what is happening at the school, and creating a budget to help align with everyone’s goals.
“It seems like common sense, but you talk with a lot of people who’d go through that process but don’t follow through,” Anderson said. “I think he will (follow through) and it will be a much better school.”
Especially in continuing the STEM education-related drone program that Anderson helped to set up between the airport, the City and the school. After losing the teacher of the program, Janelle Sailer, and former Superintendent Todd Hamilton, Anderson was worried about losing the program; however, Johnson told him once a strategic plan is in place, he will help get those conversations going again.
It helps, he continued, that in the next couple of years Creswell will start to see the money that the state promised during its session. Anderson also wants to continue to support programs that have performed well, such as the Intergenerational Reading Collaboration (IRC) program – which eventually he hopes they could do for other subjects as well.
Along with the staff changes this year, the school board has also witnessed some member changes with the addition of Mark Parker, Debi Wilkerson and Ashley Miller.
“We have a really good group: three veterans, one almost-veteran, and three new ones,” he said, adding about the new members that, “their attitudes are really good.”
“They’re moms and grandpas; it’s a diverse group and everyone has a different background and it makes us stronger,” he continued. “We may not always agree on what’s going on, but at the end of the conversation we’ll have a compromise on the best way to go. I feel real comfortable with these guys.”
One of the challenges as a board member, Anderson said, is being perceived as a boss. He recalled visiting a third-grade class and the teacher commented, saying, “That’s my boss’ boss’ boss, so make me look good,” and it was something he didn’t initially realize.
“You really have to be careful not to overstep your bounds,” he said.
Although there have been other challenges the board has had to face, Anderson said that maintaining open, clear channels of communication within the district and with the community is the “top thing” the board has to do. He noted that with community communications, the board can either send emails or notes can go home with kids, but neither option allows for everyone to always be up to date, which is especially crucial when important information needs to go out.
“We can do a better job with that,” Anderson said. “I think the paper will understand what we’re trying to do and make reporting easier. It’s a two-way street with the paper to get information out because nobody goes to the meetings unless they’re mad about something or their daughter is going to give a speech.”
He added that if anyone has any questions, they can reach out to him.
Although Anderson has granddaughters in the school, he said he would continue to be involved in the schools even if they weren’t there. One of his proudest moments was during the 10th anniversary of the middle school when students flew a drone around the school.
“It was really cool,” he said. “I sat there and had tears in my eyes because I knew the time it took those kids to do that, and that what the teacher and Todd had done – with me having a small part in getting it done – was worth it. I don’t want a street named after me or anything like that, just to see the kids being successful.”



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