The Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) has selected five Oklahoma school board members, who demonstrated outstanding service to their local school boards and communities, to be a part of the 2022 All-State School Board.
The honorees are Kandy Collins, Verdigris; Andrew Snell, Locust Grove; Richelle Humphrey, Pauls Valley; Paula Lewis, Oklahoma City; and Rick Gowin, North Rock Creek. All-State School Board Members receive $400 for their district to spend on instructional materials.
Recognized as the state’s most outstanding board member, Collins was also selected to receive the OSSBA Buddy Spencer Leadership Award. As this year’s recipient, Collins will receive an additional $600 for her district to spend on instructional materials. In addition, former Adair School Board Member Rodney Schilt was selected as the 2022 Distinguished Service Award winner.
“This year’s All-State School Board and Distinguished Service award winners have displayed a passion for uplifting students and teachers and advocating for education in their communities,” OSSBA Executive Director Dr. Shawn Hime said. “We are excited to celebrate these board members at this year’s Education Leadership Conference and recognize them for their commitment and service to public education.”
Collins has been a member of the Verdigris Board of Education for 23 years and has been the board president for 18 years. She was a key member of the Save Our Schools Committee, which helped create a multi-phase master plan that moved Verdigris from a K-8 school system to a PK-12 school system.
“Kandy has led the district through adding the high school – the facilities, the grade levels, the staffing and the programs – as well as through the Oklahoma budget cuts, teacher shortages, teacher walk-out and navigating through the circumstances from COVID-19,” Verdigris Superintendent Mike Payne said. “She also works phenomenally with the public.”
Collins also helped the school district to pass several bond issues that allowed Verdigris Public Schools to grow, build and update facilities, and provide new and exciting opportunities for its students.
Snell, Locust Grove school board president, has served as a school board member for 12 years. He is active in his district, serving on the Locust Grove Public Schools facilities committee, health and safety committee and the negotiations committee.
“Mr. Snell is a service-minded board member who believes strongly in making sound decisions that are in the best interest of the students,” Dusty Torrey, former Locust Grove superintendent and current Garber superintendent, said. “He has been a true servant of Locust Groves Public Schools for the past 12 years.”
Snell helped the school district pass three bonds. He ensures that the district maintains updated policies and is compliant and works well with his fellow board members. Throughout his tenure as a school board member, Snell was selected as legislative liaison for his board of education and has been an active member of the OSSBA.
Humphrey has been a member of the Pauls Valley Board of Education for six years. She is dedicated to bolstering her school district, assisting with the planning process to pass a key bond issue for the district. The bond issue helped build a new elementary school, band facility, FFA facility and provided upgrades to the gym.
“Richelle seeks professional development at every opportunity,” Pauls Valley School Board Member Joe Don Looney said. “She is always engaged and searching for opportunities for Pauls Valley students and staff. She shows great knowledge when making decisions in board meetings, wants what’s best for all students, is a good steward of taxpayer dollars, and supports the administration, teachers and parents.”
She is active in her district and attends all school banquets and is often seen at extracurricular activities supporting Pauls Valley students and staff. Humphrey is very active in her community. She is a part of the Pauls Valley Academic Excellence Board, the Pauls Valley Rotary Club, has served on the Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce Board, including spending a year as board chair, and was the Whitebead School Parent Teacher Organization treasurer.
Considered a driving force for her district, Lewis has been chairwoman of the Oklahoma City Board of Education for six years.
“Believing the rich diversity of our community is what makes Oklahoma City Public Schools strong, Paula has championed a number of initiatives intended to celebrate with more than 32,000 students and 5,000 staff members throughout the year,” Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel said. “It is always her desire that our students, families, staff and community partners feel welcome and appreciated when they come through our doors.”
Lewis implemented board work sessions and demonstrated leadership skills that created a collaborative, team-focused environment. She consistently ensures parents and community stakeholders are given opportunities to provide input when major initiatives are being considered.
She was instrumental in restructuring school board education meetings to better serve the district, its students, staff and community members. She holds a vital leadership role on the Compact for Oklahoma City Public Schools, a collaborative partnership between the district, community and city leaders and the United Way of Central Oklahoma to create community ownership in district outcomes. She is also the district’s school board representative to the Council of Great City Schools.
With 14 years of service as a school board member at North Rock Creek Public Schools, Rick Gowin has shown his dedication to his district and public education.
Gowin is dedicated to public education on the local and state level, providing opportunities for students not only at North Rock Creek Public Schools but across Oklahoma. He exemplifies the leadership qualities, boardmanship and teamwork of an outstanding school board member.
Gowin is also a member of the Organization of Rural Elementary Schools, serving on the activity committee. Not only dedicated to providing opportunities to students in his district, Gowin travels across the state organizing and hosting academic and athletic state tournaments for almost 100 elementary schools. He is currently on the OSSBA Board of Directors.
Schilt’s two-decade-long service to the Adair Board of Education has had a tremendous impact on the district and community. He has led educational initiatives to provide all Adair students with numerous opportunities.
“Rodney has given of his personal time more than any other school board member,” Russ Langley, Adair school board member, said. “He consistently acts in the best interest of all students at Adair Public Schools.”
His career at Schilt Management Services has provided him with extensive experience with school construction projects, and he fully understands the project process from concept to funding to construction to completion. In 2021, Adair Public Schools was the recipient of the Luminous Eagle Award, recognizing the district for excellence in policies and practices to promote equitable conditions and improve academic outcomes for Native American students, an initiative in which Schilt assisted. He has also served on the OSSBA Board of Directors, the National School Boards Association Board of Directors and NSBA’s American Indian, Native American Council.
The All-State board is an honorary board that includes five of the most outstanding board members of the year. Nominations for the honor board and the distinguished service ward winner can come from superintendents or other board members. A committee of board members serving on OSSBA’s board of directors then review nominations and select that year’s winners, including choosing an All-State board member to receive the Buddy Spencer Leadership Award. The selection committee doesn’t include board members from nominee districts.