Students present county campus plans to boardPublished 8:04pm Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Stacy Leversen, seeking her second four-year term Tuesday on the Dowagiac Board of Education, is “beyond pleased with the effect the schools have had on my children.”
“As a child of two 30-year-plus school teachers, I was raised to cherish what a gift education is, and have been proud to participate in the process as a part of this board,” she said Wednesday. “Since I joined the board, we have seen many changes. Certainly budget constraints have been difficult, but they taught us to be creative. The teachers and administration in this district have been a tremendous source of this creativity, and I feel we are all working better together with every obstacle we face.”
Reading recovery, for example.
“Just one of the amazing programs Dowagiac is leading the pack with, and our students will reap the rewards of it for a long time to come. This district is moving forward, learning from each other and going beyond,” Leversen said. “It started at Kincheloe. One of our teachers, Katrina Daiga, qualified to train teachers from our district and others. Getting our first grade teachers trained is a big plus for us. It’s intense one-on-one. Long-term, all these kids reading at grade level will be interesting to see. The middle school created ‘success time’ enrichment. High school has dual enrollment. Programs like that are what we really need.”
Leversen as a school board member offers the perspective of someone who did not graduate from Dowagiac, growing up in suburban Chicago, but chose to raise her family here.
Their former Heartland Chrysler dealership brought the Leversens to Dowagiac.
She and her husband, Dan, have a sophomore son at Union High and a daughter in eighth grade.
“We have embraced Dowagiac,” said Leversen, who works for Sysco, the distributor of food service products to restaurants, schools and hospitals. She’s one of nine covering a district based in Grand Rapids. In college, she studied communications for a career in advertising or public relations.
“Our whole goal is to give our kids the best we can,” she said, reflecting on August’s resounding defeat of a bond issue for a new high school.
“The building is important because of technology and (DUHS) needs a lot of work. In a couple years, all standardized testing has to be done on computers. We moved forward. Our board is already going in a new direction and this year, specifically, teachers and administration have been working hard together.”
“With the timing and the economy,” Leversen said, “part of what happened is when we got out in the community, there were some things people didn’t like about the initial plan, like all elementary students in (DUHS), so we made changes and it evolved. This was an idea we had, so we took it off the table, but then instead of the process looking open, we looked like we didn’t know what we were doing. Perception is reality doing stuff like this, so I think we’ve learned we need to find more ways to communicate and more or different kinds of information out there. August is a tough time to pass anything, but we had to put it out there and get an idea. It was a good plan for construction costs (of adding the new high school on to Dowagiac Middle School) versus a brand-new, state-of-the-art building.
“Moving forward, my priorities are to find ways to provide more technology. That’s the world they’re going into. At conferences, I was impressed with how some teachers use it, like Mike Stanger’s history class; my son’s group was using Google Drive. With budget constraints, we’ve got to think outside the box, and they’re excited about projects like that because they identify with the medium.”