Kathryn Whitaker on cartoon chalkboard with apple and piece of chalk

I recently attended a school board conference where presenter, Jeff Henderson, reminded us that systems and scale can drive out humanity if we are not careful. As school trustees, we spend a lot of time addressing systems and scale through goal setting, policy adoption, and budget approvals. This board work is absolutely necessary, and a hard one at that when the demands on educators increase without an increase in compensation. 

Nonetheless, boards need to always remember the who and spend sufficient time in focusing on the who when making decisions. Henderson insightfully warned about “insider-itis”—viewing our districts from inside our districts while ignoring how our students, parents, and other stakeholders see and understand us.  

Henderson then posed two questions to combat insider-itits: What do we want to be known for? and What are we known for? As you reflect on these two questions, would you be able to answer them immediately or would you have to consider them for a while? Is it possible you could not even adequately answer one or both of these questions? If so, I invite you to work with your board to honestly assess and address these questions in meaningful ways.  

The same guidance is also important for the Nevada Association of School Boards. The association’s vision is to support success for all students through local school board leadership. Our challenge is to be better at understanding how you as members see us so we can better serve you. Based on a membership survey we did a couple of months ago, there is a lot of work the association needs to do. If NASB is not known for supporting student success through local school board governance, then we are not fairly serving our members. 

Rick Harris, NASB’s new executive director, has been working for us for a month now and he understands our vision. I have been working closely with him as he takes on this new role, and I am looking forward to what he will do to help us as school boards to successfully support students. NASB will develop and provide meaningful training that not only meets state law requirements but also satisfies additional needs of school boards to carry out their visions. We will also build stronger relationships with legislators to advocate for issues important to us. 

You each have a NASB director on your school board who represents you on the NASB board. The next board will be meeting in September and again in November where we will discuss what effective training looks like and what platforms NASB should support in the upcoming legislative session. If you have ideas, concerns, and solutions, please share them with your board representative so they can be shared at the next NASB board meetings. We want to know. We need to know so we can serve you more effectively. 

Lastly, I want to recognize NASB Business Manager, Tom Ciesynski. He served the association as interim executive director for four months while the Executive Committee and Board hired a new executive. His absolute dedication and support cannot be overlooked.  I am grateful to him and all he has done to support the association and its members. And thank you to all of you for your work and dedication as trustees.