Board meetings are sometimes described as dull affairs; however, that phrasing doesn't describe the reality of Rolla Public Schools latest Board of Education meeting.

The meeting began with board member Jane Haskell introducing a special guest, Representative Don Mayhew, who was sworn in as the elected official to represent parts of Phelps and Pulaski counties in the Missouri House of Representatives for the 121st District in the 2018 General Election.

“Tonight we are excited to have Don Mayhew from the Missouri House of Representatives, he is going to join us to recognize the qualifiers for state from the Rolla High School wrestling team,” Haskell said.

Representative Mayhew began the Thursday, April 11, Board of Education meeting on a light-hearted note.

“Thank you for having me tonight. Anything we can do to keep them from staring at a phone is a good thing,” Rep. Mayhew said. “That is one thing about wrestling; it’s tough to play on your phone and wrestle at the same time. I only know that from watching, but maybe you guys have figured out a way.”

Mayhew, then on behalf of the Missouri House of Representatives and in recognition of the team’s accomplishments, presented a Resolution to the Rolla High Schools boys’ wrestling team with the team members who qualified for state in attendance — Hayden Fane, Zach Fennell, Colton Franks, Nathan Pulliam and Xander Sederburg.

A heart-warming recognition followed the honor bestowed upon the boys’ wrestling team. Jamie Myers, who has served on Rolla Public Schools' Board of Education for 11 years, has worked in the prevention field since 1990 and has brought forth imperative resources to the community as the executive director of Prevention Consultants of Missouri since its establishment in 1993, was presented a Resolution, at what was his last board meeting, after Myers didn't run for re-election. 

Myers proceeded to deliver a powerful speech that acknowledged the critical work the school district has carried out, from facility improvements to hiring board leadership. Myers said the most noteworthy part of serving as a member of the board of education for Rolla Public Schools is the fact that the best decisions he has made as a board member came about because the board worked as a group.

Myers then acknowledged Rolla Public Schools’ Superintendent Aaron Zalis for the admirable work undertaken by the superintendent and his administration, and for his transparency when updating the board on information pertinent to the district.

“I’m sure you all recognize that. We haven’t had to make fast decisions. There are times that you have to address an immediate issue but typically that comes over time and during that time we’ve had the opportunity to discuss and share ideas,” Myers said. “That is an important role that we’ve all taken, and through my tenure on the board, I think we’ve done a good job, so I congratulate all of you, both current and past board members, for being a part of that because I think that has been incredibly important.”

Myers thanked Superintendent Zalis for his forthrightness in carrying out the duties as superintendent and not steering the board, “saying here it is, and helping us come to a consensus,” which Myers noted is a testament to the superintendent and his staff as well as the entirety of the board.

Poker chips were then handed out by Myers to each of the board members, to represent protective factors — the conditions or attributes in individuals, families and communities that minimize or eliminate risk in youth, families and communities, and increase the health and well-being of children and families.

Myers said: “So these poker chips represent something, and you’ve heard me talk about protective factors, right? When I think about kids in our school district, every kid comes into the building every day, and they have their stack of poker chips.

“Everybody has an individual stack, and poker chips represent protective factors for things that help them make good decisions, things that help them do well at school, things that help them succeed academically, to work hard, to do all of those things that we hope and pray our kids do every day. So those are protective factors and every kid comes to school with their own stack.

“Some kids have a tall stack because of the environment they come from, and what they’ve learned, and those kids are willing to go out for the team, that are willing to make good decisions, that are willing to raise their hand in class, and are willing to take positive chances and have a high stack of poker chips.

“But some kids, as you know, don’t have a high stack of poker chips, they don’t have those protective factors, so I think our job and the decisions that I’ve hopefully made as a board member, and I hope all of you as well, every day what do we do? How do we make decisions that help every kid build their stack of poker chips?

“That is what I leave you with. Thank you all very much.”

After each board member told their individual narratives that reflected their great appreciation for Myers; the board made a motion to accept the certified school board election results determined in the 2019 Phelps County General Municipal Election.

Phelps County voters chose Jim Packard and Shannon Lusk to serve three-year terms on the Board of Education, and both Packard and Lusk took the oath of office and were sworn into their respective positions as board members.

The Board of Education than reorganized in accordance with the 2019 election and Charla Jamison was named President of the board following Haskell’s recommendation, Packard was named President-Elect of the board and Carla Clayton was named the board's Treasurer.