Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Meet the trustee candidates running in Whitefish School District

| April 21, 2023 12:00 AM

The Daily Inter Lake reached out to school board trustee candidates in contested elections. The information below was provided by candidates for Whitefish School District and edited for spelling, punctuation and space.

Whitefish School District has three openings for three-year terms. Candidates are: incumbents Jerrie Boksich, Katie Clarke and Shannon Hanson, and Judy Hessellund.

Jerrie Boksich (incumbent)

Occupation: I taught every grade from first through eighth in Whitefish as a classroom teacher, Title I teacher, gifted and talented teacher and curriculum facilitator. In 2012, after 40 years of teaching, I retired. To get my “kid-fix,” I was a guest teacher for several years and now serve on the Whitefish School Board.

Family: Ray Boksich; two children; and five grandchildren.

Education: After graduating from high school in Portland, Oregon, I attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, for two years and continued at the University of Montana, graduating in 1970. I have taken one hundred-plus hours of classes to stay current in the field of education beyond my degree.

Background: I have volunteered and served in educational organizations statewide such as the Northwest Reading Council, the Montana State Reading Council and the Office of Public Instruction. I received the Pam Atchison Outstanding Literacy Teacher for Montana, the Northwest Montana Lifetime Literacy Teacher Award, and the national Milken Family Outstanding Teacher Award in 1994. In the community, we volunteer weekly at Meals on Wheels and are involved in the Winter Carnival, having served as king and queen of the festival. I sit on the board of the Alpine Theater Project where I have served for 6 years.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? My primary reason for running is to make certain that Whitefish students receive the best education possible and that our staff receives quality training to ensure students’ success. I am proud of the goals the board has set and pursued: growth for all students, data-driven instruction and safe and welcoming schools. We facilitated the alignment of the curriculum, with teachers collaborating to create common understandings, materials and assessments for students. I wish to serve another term as trustee to continue supporting our dedicated and professional staff and our community as we all help our students strive for excellence.

Katie Clarke (incumbent)

Occupation: I teach communication courses at Flathead Valley Community College.

Family: Mitch Marzo; two children.

Education: Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, and a Ph.D. in communication studies.

Background: I was first elected to the Whitefish school board in 2017 and have served as the board chair for the past three years. As aboard member, I serve on committees such as the policy committee, the high school expansion committee, and the district’s interest-based-bargaining committee. While on the board, I completed my Ph.D. with a dissertation focused on identifying school governance practices in high-achieving school districts.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? School board isn’t always easy, but it is always worth doing. Children and their educational opportunities and experiences matter. The role our schools play in our community matters. I'm proud of what we've accomplished, and I’m excited about what’s on the horizon. It’s a privilege to serve our Whitefish kids and community and to be part of a dedicated and highly capable team working toward such a worthwhile mission. I would be honored to continue this work. Thank you for your consideration.

Shannon Hanson (incumbent)

Occupation: I own and operate Computer Doctor of Montana. I manage and drive for my son's transportation company, and teach very part-time at FVCC.

Education: I am a graduate of Forsyth High School in Forsyth, Montana.

Family: Wife Shelly; sons Jacy and Shane.

Background: I am currently in my fourth nonconsecutive elected term on the board for Whitefish School District. I was also appointed to serve the remaining approximately six months of Dave Ferns's term after he was elected to the Montana House. During this time I have served on multiple committees including those involved with policy and negotiations with our union partners.

I served on the board for the Office of Public Instruction which was charged with the development and update of curriculum standards. I was appointed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer to the electronic government advisory board.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I consider my time on the board a way to give back to the community I have called home for nearly 40 years. Quality education for all students in the district is key to our future.

Judy Hessellund

Occupation: Realtor.

Education: B.A., M.S., J.D.

Background: I am a volunteer with DREAM, teaching special needs kids to ski. I have worked in a battered women's shelter. I have volunteered for shelters in California and Montana. I was a substitute teacher in Tucson, Arizona.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? Well, let's put it this way, I was asked. Never thought about being involved. I have seen every type of principal. Those who do not seem to know how to reach the students, and those who work hard to help their students learn in a healthy way. We seem to forget that our children are our future, they need the tools to learn even after they finish their education. Education needs to fit the student and the differences in everyday life. Everyone has an expertise.