My family’s ties to public schooling in my community go way back. My great great aunt Hattie Derrenbacher started my current school district in her kitchen on a long bench that sits in a museum near my home. She recognized the need to have an educated populace.

She was just one lady who started with educating just one child, which quickly grew to 12 children, and then to a schoolhouse full of children. And it all started with just one lady, who believed that just one child should have a chance at a better future, and that this education should be free.

Each of us is “just one.” We are just one of our country’s 90,000 school board members and just one of the hundreds of thousands of school leaders and educators. While those numbers seem large, and our collective power and voice is strong, we need to remember the power we each possess.

In our work together and individually, we impact students’ futures and their chance to receive a quality public education that will help them achieve their hopes and dreams.

As in my hometown and in so many of your towns across America, public education began because people believed in its power and what it can do for just one child. Our beliefs haven’t changed. They’ve just grown—as children’s dreams can and should grow.

The very fabric of our country and the success of our nation comes down to the education of our children. We know that with a good public education, each child can have a successful life, including the student living in or close to poverty, the student with special needs, the student who is being bullied, and the students who aren’t getting the support and opportunities they need and deserve.

At the end of the day, every child deserves the best public education possible and to graduate from high school equipped to be successful in college or technical training or the military or the workplace. Each child deserves his or her hopes and dreams to be fulfilled.

In our job as school board members, we need to set policies that promote the protection and support of all of our children. And we need to have our administrations develop programs that teach the skills students need for the future.

As school board members, we must remember our classrooms are full of just one child—all of whom are dreaming of the brighter future that your district can provide. They need you, just one of you, to work collectively with your board and others in your hometown district to make that difference so that they can be successful.

Around NSBA

A group of high school students paint on canvases during an art class.

2023 Magna Awards Grand Prize Winners

School districts rethink and reinvent education for their students, staff, and communities.