One Board Member’s Journey

Debbie Stair

By Debbie Stair, MASB Board Development Manager and Long-Time Huron Valley Schools and Oakland ISD Board Member

DashBoard, June 17, 2015

I ran for a seat on my local board of education 20 years ago, yet I remember it like it was yesterday. The thrill of campaigning and finding out I had indeed won the seat was an unforgettable experience.

However, I found that the excitement was soon replaced with uncertainty. I was overwhelmed upon realizing I didn’t know all of the fundamentals of running an educational institution and that the school board had such an effect on the entire district. As much as I wanted to have a voice of certainty, I knew I needed more information to truly be effective.

I wanted to take a moment and share my approach to making the most of my association membership and class offerings from MASB:

  • Each year when I received my board member certification (CBA) handbook, I poured over it to determine what areas I should focus on to fill in my knowledge gaps. I enjoyed learning as much as I could ahead of time, but also liked the opportunity for “just-in-time” learning for certain issues like when our district needed to hire a superintendent.
  • I also mapped out my plan for the year of when classes were offered and where they were located to ensure I could fit them into my busy schedule, which included raising my young sons.
  • Summer School for School Leaders was offered in northern Michigan one year, and I realized I could fit this into my life while my schedule was slower and I could even bring my family along to enjoy the location.
  • I took hold of the opportunity I was given and engaged in my classes through asking questions and listening intently to others, especially the instructors. I found them to be extremely knowledgeable and that they cared for each school board’s ultimate success.
  • I then began to get more involved with MASB by talking with my mentor (MASB now offers the Members Assisting Peers program where veteran board members serve as a mentor and sounding board for their mentee’s thoughts and ideas). Attending Summer School for School Leaders was one of my mentor's suggestions. I’m glad I considered it and ultimately attended. (My boys were glad too!)

No matter what situation your district finds itself in, Summer School for School Leaders has something for each of your board members. I believe you will become more knowledgeable, confident and gain the tools needed to understand and act on issues related to serving your school district. I know I did!

Register here today!

Questions or need assistance in registering? Contact the Leadership Development and Executive Search Services team at or 517.327.5900.

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