Dowagiac appoints new board member

Published 11:30 pm Monday, January 23, 2023

DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac Union Schools’ new board member is no stranger to the community.

After much deliberation, the school board voted for Christina Carpenter to be appointed to the seat vacated by the late Ronda Sullivan, who passed away earlier this month after a hard-fought battle with cancer.

“I am a proud Dowagiac citizen,” Carpenter said. “I am proud to be here. I’m honored to be sitting in front of you. I am proud of you. I take great pride in being a part of our community and I truly believe that I would make a positive impact and become a great team member with you and help make decisions for our district and our children.”

The council hosted the interviews in the middle school cafeteria, while streaming them live on Youtube for the public to view. Candidates were Carpenter, Rebecca Grabemeyer, Craig Schmidt and Jessica Bober.

The board asked each member nine questions, with the majority of the interviews being 10 to 12 minutes in length. After the interviews were concluded, the board members chose the top two candidates moving onto the final round, before choosing the board member. The entire interview process lasted approximately 1.5 hours.

“We’re excited,” said Dowagiac Board President Brent Brewer. “Christina is going to be a great addition to our board. I’m looking forward to having her on and being able to work with her. She’s well connected with the community, she’s passionate about Dowagiac; she was born and raised here and has kids in the school system. I think she’s gonna be a great fit and I’m excited to be able to have her join us.”

A Dowagiac graduate with children in the district, Carpenter has had many roles within the district over the years, including being a school secretary, serving on the Dowagiac Athletic Boosters’ board as well as coaching varsity and little league sports.

“She’s in the community, she’s from the community, she’s been serving in the community,” said Treasurer Tracy Hatcher. “That means a lot.”

Carpenter said she wants to help the district better live up to the phrase “Dowagiac United.”

“When I was in school, we were so excited as athletes and members of the community,” she said. “The football stands were filled. We were proud to be there; I’m still proud and I raise my children to be proud in the community, but you don’t see that and I would love to see that more… You see the other students in those communities and they’re all in their school colors and they’re high five on each other and they’re proud, they’re proud to support their other students and their friends. We’re getting there but it’s going to take a little more.

“We need to bring our community, our staff and our students together,” she continued. “I feel like a student and teacher (dynamic) resembles a coach and an athlete. If I’m coaching and I’m excited, or I’m positive, they feed off that and I feel like our students in the classroom feed off the energy that our staff, our para-pro and even parents in the community give off.”