The Camas School District Board of Directors appointed two new members to fill the District 1 and District 2 seats during its regular meeting on Monday, March 26.
Corey McEnry, who grew up in Camas, is a high school band director in the Hockinson School District and has more than 10 years’ experience as a teacher, will be the new board member for District I.
Erika Cox, an avid parent volunteer who has three daughters in Camas schools, was named to the District 2 seat.
The board seats became available earlier this year, after two longtime board members announced their resignations at a Feb. 12 school board meeting.
Casey O’Dell, former board vice president, who served on the board for 17 years, resigned in February, saying he was finding it challenging to devote enough time and attention to the board after taking a new job as the Port of Vancouver’s director of facilities in October of 2017.
Julie Rotz, former board president, had been a member of the board for eight years. She resigned after her husband took a new job in Florida.
The remaining school board members conducted interviews for the open positions during a workshop on Monday, March 26.
Other potential candidates included Mary Tipton and Joe Keller.
In Cox’s interview with the school board, she said, “I am the daughter of two public educators and I’m a product of public education myself. So, my passion and commitment is to educators and teachers who make this their profession (and) to the students who have the opportunity to have the best public education that they can have … My intentions have always been out of pure love and appreciation and wanting to serve and give back to my community.”
Cox also said she will prioritize relationships with legislators and community members.
“It’s really important to have that back and forth communication between city, state and families,” Cox said during her interview. “If I were to serve as a board of director, I’d want to prioritize that and be able to share with you all the things that I’m hearing to be able to have those meaningful discussions.”
McEnry said that, as a parent of an elementary school student, it would be important to him to listen to Camas’ elementary school constituents.
“It’s just natural within the school system that a lot of attention tends to follow athletics and those activities,” McEnry said. “A lot of attention goes to middle school and high school. I think, for me, it would be important to have that elementary perspective as well.”
McEnry added that he is a big fan of listening, and would be visible to the public and open to all perspectives.
“I think that the district’s mission of seeing and serving every student is really important,” McEnry said. “Just knowing that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to every student … I think as board members, it would be our job to really listen to the professionals, listen to the teachers, listen to the administration support staff and be involved in the process however we can.”
McEnry said he is an advocate for public education and for giving students as many opportunities as possible for growth.
He added that, as an educator, he tries to keep in mind that what works for one student may not work for another.
“We really need to meet every student where they’re at and be able to offer a more diverse and innovative educational experience for those kids,” he said.
McEnry said he has contemplated the idea of being on the school board for a long time.
“I’m a big believer of public education and public service and giving back to the community,” he said in his school board interview. “That’s really my main goal. I don’t think there is anything in particular that the Camas School District is doing wrong. I really just want to be a part of the team and work collaboratively to do what’s best for kids, because that’s why we’re all here.”
Current School Board President Doug Quinn said he took note of Cox’s extensive history of service to schools in Camas.
“She has been a leader with the Camas Education Foundation and PTAs, and served on the attendance boundary committee,” Quinn said of the new school board member’s track record. “She displayed an obvious passion to serve our students, founded in years of professional marketing experience. She has children currently in Camas schools, which provides firsthand contact with our educational activities and events. That is valuable to the board as we discuss the implications of various program amendments.”
Quinn said he also appreciated McEnry’s strong Camas community ties and deep understanding of the Camas schools culture.
“To say education is important to him understates his interest,” Quinn said of McEnry.
McEnry’s wife is a second-grade teacher and his daughter recently started kindergarten at Lacamas Heights Elementary school.
“As a teacher, we recognize that he can bring voice to the most critical aspect of our educational system,” Quinn said of McEnry. “His passion for the arts will be invaluable. Music is an obvious interest for him, having developed a successful, engaging program in his district.”
School board elections occur during odd number years, which means Cox and McEnry, if they wish to remain on the school board, must run in the general election in November of 2019.