Wednesday, September 28, 2011

End of and Era: Hanson & Goodnight Pass the Gavel

Trent Goodnight (R) and Maureen Hanson (L) accept a plaque commemorating their years of service
to the Hudson Community School District

We are incredibly grateful for the years of service of both Trent and Maureen.  Both board members decided during the last year that they would not be seeking another term on the Board of Education.  I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with both of these fantastic community leaders during my first year as superintendent at Hudson.  As they were finishing up their tenure, I asked each one to reflect on their years of service.  Thank you both for your service, please don't be strangers around the school!

Trent Goodnight, Director        6 years of service
  • What did you expect board service to be like, and how did it differ in your time on the board?  I reluctantly said yes to board service as a way to do my part for the community.  My general impression was that my role would be centered around the idea of impressing a community viewpoint on the School.  In other words, I thought board members were primarily there to act as a liaison for complaints or ideas from community members.  This turned out not to be the focus, or primary need.  Rather, the board's real job is week-to-week support for public education in general, and the Hudson school universe in particular.
  • What was your greatest achievement, or what were you most proud of during your time on the board?  Hiring three superintendents.  Plus, I quickly grew to care deeply about teachers, administrators, support staff, and the community, and I tried to fairly represent each one of them at the appropriate times.
  • What was the most surprising aspect of serving on the school board?  How much time it takes, especially during key events, and how important it really is for our American way of life.  Plus, I was surprised by the quality of people involved with public education; most are very impressive individuals.
  • What advice would you offer to the next board?  Learn quickly that board service is a responsibility to represent and serve many others, and they are counting on you to work hard on their behalf.
  • What will you miss?  Being involved with the week-to-week trials and joys that go on.  It will be difficult to find another role that serves the community as much as board service.
  • How will you stay involved, or what are your plans now that you are no longer serving on the board?  Not sure yet.
Maureen Hanson, President of the Board      22 years of service  (Continued on the next page)

  • What did you expect board service to be like, and how did it differ in your time on the board?  I ran for my first term on the board the year our oldest daughter, Alexis, started kindergarten.  I wanted to be involved in the school in some way, and there was no PTO at that time.  I expected to be more directly involved in her education, but quickly discovered that the purpose of the board is not to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the school, but instead to be involved at a higher level where the board can make a difference for all students.  During my years on the board, the conversations shifted from those focused more on management (facilities upkeep and how we spent our money) to those focused on educational leadership (what we wanted our graduates to know and do, and how we would work toward ensuring that all students graduating had those characteristics). 
  • What was your greatest achievement, or what were you most proud of during your time on the board?  One of the board’s most important jobs is hiring the superintendent.  I am proud of the time and energy the board and many others in the school and community put into each of our superintendent searches.  I believe we always hired the best candidate, and I also believe that the person we hired was the person we needed most in our district at the time he was hired.  Our needs were different at different times, and the people we hired had different strengths to address those needs.  My greatest achievement was helping to create and/or adopt our core purpose and Learner Performance Goals.  Our core purpose is:  We create effective learning environments that result in success for all students.  What a valuable and rewarding purpose!  Having a core purpose allows every board and staff member to evaluate his/her decisions and actions against this question:  Are my actions forwarding the core purpose?  The Learner Performance goals help us all have a common understanding of the characteristics we want to instill in our students.  Learner Performance Goals have become part of our culture, and our students clearly understand what they mean and how they can achieve them. I am also proud of helping to establish Senior Celebrations as the culmination of each student’s learning at Hudson Schools.  It gives students an opportunity to reflect on their school years and on how well they are demonstrating the Learner Performance Goals. 
  • What was the most surprising aspect of serving on the school board?  The most surprising thing for me was the number of policies!  We have hundreds of policies (most are mandated by state law), and the board is responsible for every one of them.  One other surprising thing for me was the diversity of thought among board members and the community.  It is extremely helpful to have people with different opinions on the board!  It seems that we all assume everyone else thinks like we do, but, clearly, that is not true, and it is very valuable to hear many different thoughts before making decisions.  The board was very good at debating many different aspects of a question and then coming together to support the decision once it was made.
  • What advice would you offer to the next board?  Continue to keep the core purpose in mind at every board meeting.  Also, keep in mind the purpose of the board – to hire great superintendents and to adopt and maintain policies and guidelines that help us fulfill our core purpose.  Finally, realize that it will take many months for new board members to understand what they are supposed to do.  I would encourage them to ask questions about anything they don’t understand!  We have an outstanding administrative team and school staff.  Everyone is willing to help in any way they can. 
  • What will you miss?  I will miss the interactions with so many wonderful people, including:  attending work sessions with the administrative team, learning together as a board by reading and discussing books and by attending the IASB conferences, working  with the superintendent to prepare for upcoming board meetings, visiting the school every year as a board and seeing all of the wonderful things going on in every classroom, serving lunch to the teachers and staff during Teacher Appreciation Week, attending senior celebrations, and much more.  I will even miss the regular monthly meetings! 
  • How will you stay involved, or what are your plans now that you are no longer serving on the board?  I hope to stay involved by participating on the School Improvement Advisory Committee and by being willing to contribute in whatever ways the current board believes would be helpful. 
In closing…
Over the years, the board has had to make some extremely difficult decisions.  We did our best to be honest and open in our discussions, and we always made the decisions we believed were best for students and for the district.  I am grateful to the people who shared their thoughts with the board, and I hope people know that we did our best to listen, even though we did not always agree with everyone’s suggestions. 
Students in the Hudson School district are very fortunate.  The school administrators, teachers, and staff members are all very dedicated to the students and to creating effective learning environments for each student.  The Hudson community is very supportive of the school.  And, the school board is made up of a wonderfully diverse group of people who complement each other’s strengths, but who all want what is best for students.  I would like to thank all of those groups of people for their commitment to Hudson students, employees, and school board. 
It has been a wonderful 22 years for me!  I have had the good fortune to work with many wonderful board members, superintendents, administrators, board secretaries, teachers, other staff members, and community members over the years.  I am very grateful to the community for giving me the opportunity to serve as a board member! 

Best wishes to our Emeritus Board Members as they move on to their next challenge!


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