The Duluth School Board will have plenty of people to choose from to fill the vacant At Large seat next week.
Twenty-one people from the community applied for the job ahead of Monday's deadline. The seat was left vacant after Josh Gorham resigned on Sept. 4.
The School Board decided last week to interview all the candidates Monday, Sept. 30 starting at 6 p.m., giving each candidate 20 minutes to answer five questions. Though, due to the large number of applicants, the process may change in some way.
The following candidates applied for the At Large seat:
Tracy Averill has been working as a mental health educator since 2007. She wrote, “I want to be a part of a group of individuals that work toward developing an environment that inspires every student to achieve their potential and works toward the continued student preparation that leads to productive and fulfilling lives.”
Sarah Blix is a mother of five children who are spread out between three different Duluth school district schools, and she volunteers weekly in the schools. She wrote, “I believe that striving for public transparency is exactly what the Duluth community is asking for and I believe I can offer a lot of knowledge, personal experience, time and energy toward achieving that now and helping create a vision for the future permanence.”
David S. Boe is a communications professional, political consultant, historian and 20-year veteran. He wrote, "I feel compelled to be part of the process in overseeing, guiding and maybe influencing our city’s education system.”
Danelle Dunphy has served on many committees and action groups through the Duluth school district, ranging from the American Indian Education Parent Advisory Board to the Education Equity Advisory Council. She wrote, “My belief is that change happens from within and that we all must partner together to make the change that we want to see happen.”
Kelly Durick Eder is an assistant professor of human anatomy at the College of St. Scholastica. Eder wrote, “I want to be a School Board member to focus on best serving our kids by working within the Duluth School Board to provide the tools and environment that our kids, staff, faculty and administrators in our elementary, middle and high schools need with the resources that the district has to offer.”
Greg Gilbert has been an attorney for 34 years and is a former Duluth City Council member. Gilbert wrote, “During my term on the Duluth City Council, we weren’t perfect, but despite taking on controversial issues, councilors supported each other, and, with rare exceptions, had confidence in the openness, fairness and accountability of the process. I hope to bring a fresh perspective and background to the School Board to help achieve these same results.”
Jane Diane Hoffman has 14 years of experience working in education as a tutor, teacher, teacher assistant and special education paraeducator. She wrote, “I would represent our diverse community by trying to listen to the perspectives of students of color who are different than me and what inequities they face in their everyday instruction in public school.”
Art Johnston is a former School Board member who served two terms before losing a re-election bid. He wrote, “I will bring critical analysis to the table, and I will continue my community involvement to carry out the obligation to reflect the needs of the students, parents, employees and the community at large.”
Thomas Jovanovich has coordinated the literacy and apprenticeship programs at the federal correctional institution in Sandstone, Minn. He wrote, “I come from a diverse family and am aware of the literature regarding the negative impact school discipline has on certain communities as well as the gaps in achievement along socio-economic and racial lines. I believe in using evidence-based, peer-reviewed strategies to address these issues.”
James Laumeyer worked 17 years as a human resource and labor relations consultant for private, public and nonprofit organizations, including multiple school districts. He wrote, “I would be a resource for the board’s human resources activities” during the superintendent selection process.
Sean Samuel Avery Moore is a licensed special education teacher who has worked with children of all ages at public, charter and private schools. Moore wrote, “I believe in the power of education and the importance of community actively engaged in the education system. … I embrace the opportunity to explore the financial burdens the board must navigate in order to provide quality education for the community and quality compensation for educators.”
Jeanne Nelson has a background in social work as well as a license to practice. Nelson wrote, “My lifelong experience along with education will contribute to assisting marginalized children to have an equitable educational opportunity.”
Bob Nygaard works as the sports information director for the University of Minnesota Duluth. He wrote, “I served on the Duluth School Board between 2001-03 and enjoyed my experience, although it was quite the learning experience. My hope was that someday I would have the opportunity to lend my services again.”
Charles Obije works as the director of Seafarers housing program and has previously served as the continuum of care coordinator for St. Louis County. Obije wrote, “I would love the opportunity to work on various issues, most important issues that might help kids like mine feel ‘more’ welcomed ‘both in policies and actions’ and represented while still receiving equal quality of education as their peers.”
Amber Sadowski has worked for nearly four years as the education case manager at Life House. She said, “I believe a strong public educational system is crucial for teaching empathy and the beauty of diversity, as well as core subjects and the arts.”
Karen St. George has worked for over five years at Community Action Duluth. She wrote, “I believe that it is imperative to support our community, especially our young people. Serving on the board is a way I can contribute to the health of our young people and the community as a whole.”
- Janelle Soderlind works at the American Indian Community Housing Organization. Soderlind wrote, “I would be a great representative and voice for a large population of students that are sometimes overlooked or fall through the cracks.”
Peter F. Spooner is an educator who has taught art and humanities in public and charter schools as well as at the college level. Spooner wrote, “As a citizen, I feel that I should voluntarily participate on government and nonprofit boards, committees and in public process. … I believe strongly in public oversight of tax-supported institutions.”
Jason Thorsell works as a licensed engineer and has managed multi-million dollar projects for more than 10 years and served on the Duluth Public Utility Commission from 2012 to 2017. Thorsell wrote, "I believe a strong education system is critical for the health of the community.”
Kyle Westrick has worked as a registered nurse director of surgery and is a father of three boys. Westrick wrote, “I care about the experience and outcomes of each student. … Our family moved back to Duluth two years ago and the schools here played a major factor in our decision to move.”
Brenda Windsor is a retired teacher who worked at Stowe Elementary and Lincoln Park Middle School. Windsor wrote, “Since retiring I miss the school atmosphere. I feel with my 20-year teaching experience, my raising four children through the system and running a daycare for 15 years will bring a lot of skills to the position.”