Watershed Voice sent out questionnaires to over 30 candidates running for elected school board positions in St. Joseph County and the surrounding area. Leading up to the General Election on November 3, Watershed will publish the questionnaires as it receives them back from the candidates. Michelle Schuur, a candidate for School Board Trustee on the Marcellus Board of Education, filled out our questionnaire. These are her answers.
Name: Michelle Schuur
Address: 13508 Marcellus Highway, Marcellus, MI 49067
Family (optional): Married my high school sweetheart Tim in 1998 and we are still married. We have 2 daughters, Megan and Mackenzie.
(Answer not provided)
Does your background include training or work, paid or unpaid, in education? What was that experience? What are some of your successes, and what have been some learning moments?
I do not have a background in education.
Do you now or have you ever had children enrolled in the district where you are running?
Our daughter Megan graduated with the Class of 2020. Mackenzie attends the high school and is in the 9th grade.
How else do you currently participate, or have you participated in the past, in school district activities?
I currently volunteer with the marching band and with the athletic department.
How has your school district handled the pandemic in both the spring and fall of this year? If anything, what would you have done differently?
Our school district used feedback from the parents to drive their decisions both in the spring and fall of this year. They listened to the voices of the seniors and their parents and postponed graduation as long as possible in order to try to provide an in-person graduation instead of a drive thru graduation. They were successful and held a graduation ceremony in August, allowing the parents to sit in their cars and watch the ceremony. With 46 graduates, this was feasible. The graduates were able to hear speeches from their valedictorian and salutorians while sitting socially distanced, wearing masks.
This fall, our school district devised many different plans for returning to school, all while communicating to every parent and hearing their opinions on how to keep our kids safe while attending school. Several plans were constructed to cover many different scenarios so that our school could react quickly if /when our governor implemented a new Executive Order. In the end, we offered 3 different options for our parents and have been successful in keeping our kids safe.
Our teachers and administrators have been very flexible and willing to familiarize themselves with new learning platforms in order to provide the best possible education to the students.
The school has provided Chromebooks to everyone and have provided two Wi-Fi hotspots in the village for those that do not have internet.
Outside of the pandemic, what are currently the most important challenges your school district faces? How do you plan to address those challenges?
In addition to the challenge of the continued funding cuts to public schools, our district faces issues with connectivity. There is limited broadband access in our area, which was a problem before the pandemic and now is one of the larger problems. I would support community programs to bring affordable high-speed internet to our area, such as from Midwest Energy. I also support following a conservative budget in order to anticipate funding cuts.
Are there other key points of your platform as a candidate for school board? If so, what are they?
While athletics are important in a student’s life, I firmly believe that academics come first. Without academics, there would not be an athlete. I support athletic programs and would not cut any program unless it could be avoided, but the students’ academics are most important.
How does running for the school board fit your broader views and ethics?
I believe in fairness and integrity. By being on the School board I could help ensure all students are treated fairly and with respect and be provided the best possible education now and in future generations.
Why is education important to you?
A good quality education is the backbone to future success. It provides us with the tools needed to have a happy and stable life. Education teaches independence so a person can make their own decisions and become financially independent.
Is there anything else the community should know about you?
I have a BA from Western Michigan University in Finance and have worked in a management position for 16 years. I have a broad understanding and have the ability to work with a team to ensure all decisions are made in the best interests of the students.