Lee aims to make difference as member of Cassopolis school board

Published 5:00 am Friday, February 23, 2024

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CASSOPOLIS — William G. Lee Jr. is setting out to contribute to the community that raised him, starting in his new role as Cassopolis Board of Education Trustee.

Serving as a member of the School Board is Lee’s first time holding a public office. He came to the position late last year when the board announced that a vacancy had arisen that needed to be filled. Though he had seen the announcement posted on the school district Facebook page, it wasn’t until after speaking to Trustee Heather Beaudoin that he decided to pursue the opportunity. Beaudoin, who Lee graduated with in 2002, encouraged him to consider the position. After speaking to his wife and reviewing the questions published by the board for applicants, he crafted ideas for what he would like to accomplish and how he would go about it, if chosen.

“You figure out what you can do and how you can do it,” said Lee.

During his interview before the School Board, along with three other candidates, Lee described himself as “a success story” of Cassopolis Schools and the community, wanting to help current students achieve the same accomplishments. He was favored by multiple board members for his desire to provide service to the community and for his financial experience as an accountant.

He explained that both education and community had been important in his family for as long as he could remember. Several family members were involved in community programs and, as a child, he was brought along to witness and participate in the work. He was also raised to see the value in education, having several family members attend college and achieving a Masters in Accounting himself.

His vision is to give students the classes and resources needed to leave Cassopolis schools ready to attend college or vocational, technical, and trade schools. With a world he described as continuing to change, he wants students to be best ready for those futures. He sees the district as already on the right track, wanting to keep that momentum going by focusing on curriculum and getting student test scores up.

With his accounting background, he describes himself as able to understand finances, balance sheets, and large budgets. He is able to ask questions other board members may not consider.

“Those numbers don’t scare me,” he said.

Lee also sees value as being the only African American on the school board, helping to better represent the demographics of the village. He recounted noticing that he did not see many people who looked like him and wanted to be the bridge to others who might feel the same, letting them know they are represented and encouraging them to be involved.

Still early in his time on the board, Lee is already learning. He has found the school board and staff helpful in orienting him. He has already begun to review training materials and intends to achieve multiple levels of certification through Michigan Association of School Boards training.

Lee’s plan is to take those tools and his experience to keep the school district continuing in the right direction”, while bringing in his own unique perspective.

“I have one vote,” Lee said. “I’m going to use it in the best way that makes sense.”