For the past 15 years, Keith Strassner has worked for the improvement of children's lives through education by voting on budgets and bond issues.

For the past 15 years, Keith Strassner has worked for the improvement of children's lives through education by voting on budgets and bond issues.
Thursday night in his parting remarks to the board, administration, faculty, staff, students, parents and patrons, Strassner said the best thing he was a part of during that time was not adding to buildings or hiring teachers but giving students a voice on the board.
"Of everything we have done in the last 15 years--new buildings, new programs, early childhood education--the one I am most proud of is the creation of the student advisor to the board of education," Strassner said in remarks he prepared for his last night as both member and president of the school board."
The presence of the student representative at the board table each meeting keeps, or should keep, board members grounded in their role and mission, he indicated.
"At every meeting that one person sitting at the board table reinforces what our focus should be. It’s tough when you are debating, voting and deciding an issue not to look down the board table at Ashley, or Craig or Jessie just to name a few and ask the question 'is this in the best interest of our kids?'"
Student representatives, when they leave their seats on the board each year, "tell us when their term is over what a great experience it has been and they have each learned so much," Strassner said, adding "I have to say I think the board is better because they are here."
Turning to current student representative Ashley Barth, Strassner said, "Ashley, thank you for being here and reminding us every day what’s important."
Elected to his first term in 2002, Strassner did not run for reelection in the April 4 election. Carla Clayton was the only candidate to file besides the two other incumbents whose terms ended, Tony Froehlich and Jane Haskell.
Because those three were the only candidates for the three open seats, no Rolla school election was held during the general municipal election, as provided by Section 115.124 of the Missouri state statutes. In the board's business meeting, the board, including Strassner, accepted the election results, noting that no election was necessary, then adjourned to allow board Secretary Nancy McWhorter to swear in Clayton, Haskell and Froehlich.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aaron Zalis chaired the meeting until Greg Stratman, president-elect, was officially voted in as president. Stratman then took over the gavel, and Haskell was elected to the office of president-elect. That office is akin to vice-president.
During the new business agenda, Haskell volunteered to serve as Clayton's mentor and Charla Jamison was selected as treasurer. Those appointments were ratified by a vote.
Other appointments, some ex officio and some by voluntarism, also ratified by vote were as follows:
* Jim Packard to the A-Plus Schools Committee,
* Froehlich to the CORE (Champions of Rolla Education) board,
* Stratman, Haskell and Jamison to the Crisis Managment Team,
* Assistant Superintendent Craig Hounsom to be the ESA Title I authorized representative,
* Stratman, Jamison and Packard to the Audit Committee,
* Stratman as delegate and Haskell as alternate to the Missouri School Boards Assoiations meetings in June and October,
* Jamison and Clayton to the Policy Committee,
* Jamie Myers to the Special Eduation Committee,
* Haskell to the TAB (Teacher, Admministration, Board) Committee,
* Hounsom, Froehlich and Myers to the Residency Waiver Committee.
The board meeting, usually opened to the public at 5:30 p.m. following a 5 p.m. executive (closed) session, began Thursday at 6 p.m. It was preceded at 5 p.m. by a reception for Strassner.
There was cake and punch served, of course, and plenty of visiting with Strassner and his family by school officials, faculty, administrators and other well-wishers.
Meanwhile, a slide show that looped on the screen in the front of the board meeting room at the Dr. D. Kent King Administration Center reviewed the accomplishments of the past 15 years, including bond issues that paid for expansions at all school buildings.
When the meeting opened, one of the first orders of business was the awarding of board recognition certificates to students and teachers who have made notable accomplishments recently. As board president, Strassner made most of those award presentations.
He, though, received the last one of the evening from Dr. Zalis on behalf of the board. Zalis said he figured that over the past 15 years,  he and Strassner have attended some 300 meetings together.
He thanked Strassner for the work of those 15 years, and the superintendent said he believes school board service is "the highest calling of community service, because you're giving back to children."
Strassner then  made his parting remarks.
"This whole experience is way out of my comfort zone, " he said of his board service. "I never imagined running for election, much less winning and serving for this long; it is truly a humbling experience, and one for which I will be forever grateful."
When he was sworn in back in April 2002, Strassner recalled, "We were under a state audit, the administration building had been destroyed in a fire, and we had a new superintendent.  My first board meetings were in the sanctuary of a church. Those were interesting times. I will confess there were a few Thursday nights I went home and wondered what I had gotten myself into."
But the experience, while humbling, has been rewarding, he said, because of the people.
"But I quickly discovered the one thing that makes this district special; the teachers, administrators, principals, librarians, custodians, bus drivers and all the staff that care deeply about children and providing a wonderful education for our kids. You make our job as board members so very easy," he said. "In my time on the board I have visited other school districts and worked with board members from around the state but this place is special,  and it is because of every one of you keeping our kids at the center of all we do."
He acknowledged that many people wonder why anyone would serve on the school board: "The question I am asked most often when someone finds out I am on the board of education is 'why would you want to do that?' I have answered, 'Oh it’s not too bad,' 'it’s fun, you get to give out diplomas,' but for me the real answer why I did this is something I learned from my parents; whatever you do, wherever you go, in the end if you leave it better than you found it, you have made a difference and that matters. I hope in some small way I have left this district better than I found it."
Strassner closed with expressions of gratitude to faculty, staff, students, partrons. He also thanked Zalis, Hounsom, Assistant Superintendent Kelly Hinshaw, Finance Director Vcki Gorman and McWhorter. And he thanked Clayton for "stepping up and serving."
He also thanked his children, David and Emily, and his wife, Nancy.
Regarding sacrfices of time his wife has had to endure, Strassner said, "Nancy, we have missed a lot of Thursday nights together, and we have spent a couple wedding anniversaries watching election returns; likely not the most romantic way to spend the evening. Thank you for always being there and keeping us together, I love you."