Candidate Profiles: MFL MarMac School Board

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Sharon Greener

Roberta Hass

Tonya Meyer

Collin Stubbs

Voters in the MFL MarMac School District will have a choice between four candidates to fill three open seats on the school board when they head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters in the Farmersburg and Wagner townships and the city of Farmersburg will vote at the Farmersburg Community Center; voters in the Giard, Grand Meadow and Monona townships and the cities of Luana and Monona will vote at the Monona Community Center; and the voters in Mendon Township and the cities of Marquette and McGregor will vote at the Marquette Community Center. Three incumbents— Sharon Greener, Tonya Meyer and Collin Stubbs—are on the ballot, and they are joined by newcomer Roberta Hass. The highest vote-getters will serve four-year terms on the board. The candidates recently shared their thoughts on some topics regarding MFL MarMac Schools.

Sharon Greener

Sharon Greener is a southwest Wisconsin native and attended college at UW-Stevens Point. She moved to Iowa in 1985 for a job opportunity. Greener is married to Bruce, and the couple has four children: Tori, Harlan, Adam and Isaac, all of whom attended MFL MarMac. She has one grandchild, Alina, who attends MFL MarMac. Greener retired from Effigy Mounds National Monument in 2014 and currently works at Maggie’s Diner, outside McGregor. She volunteered as a youth basketball coach with the district for five years and has been on the school board since 2009.

Why are you running for school board?

I am running for re-election because I feel that a good education is one of the most important gifts we can give our children and grandchildren. I feel that I instill a positive influence and a rational voice to the school board. I enjoy being involved in all aspects of education, from academics, fine arts and athletics to clubs and community involvement.

MFL MarMac is moving forward with plans for a fieldhouse and elementary addition/improvement project. In March, voters are expected to vote on a $6.8 million bond referendum measure to help pay for it. Do you support the project? Why or why not?

MFL MarMac Community School District is well known in the area for being progressive and forward thinking. Everything we do is geared toward improving the education and welfare of our students. The facilities plan for the district ties into our progressive and forward-thinking mindset. The facilities improvements that will be accomplished with the bond referendum will improve the education and welfare of our students. 

In particular, the elementary improvements will address decades-old issues that affect our youngest students: non-handicap accessible restrooms, a shortage of restroom facilities, improved security regarding visitors, etc. It would be very short-sighted of us to ignore needed security improvements considering violent events that have happened across the country. There is a desperate need for improvements to the “circle drive” area, which is the primary entrance of the elementary. 

The fieldhouse addition will position our district to compete for families with students. We must continue to maintain or grow our student base. That directly correlates into dollars for the district. Encouraging families to move into the district also directly correlates into dollars for the local communities—all our communities. We need to maintain our communities as vibrant, healthy (physically and fiscally) and attractive places to families to want to live and grow.

In short, I support the facilities improvements that voters will be asked to approve. Let’s not be short-sighted and prevent our school district the opportunity to grow. If our district grows, all five of our communities and the rural economy will benefit.

What additional learning opportunities would you like to see MFL MarMac offer or explore?

MFL MarMac has done an exceptional job of partnering with other schools and local employers. It only makes sense to continue to build on these partnerships. We all have a stake in communities and schools in northeast Iowa being successful. Part of being successful in the future is embracing new technologies. I feel it would be an opportune time to add more technology courses to the curriculum, either on-site or through our highly successful partnerships we have with local community colleges.

At the same time, we are facing a shortage of skilled workers in the area. I would like the district to offer more hands-on opportunities for the skilled trades in the areas of plumbing, heating, electrical and concrete work, etc. Perhaps partnering with local employers through high school internships, courses taught by successful local employers and additional coursework would accomplish this. 

I feel the district should continue to focus on preparing students for life after high school whether it be through college prep or on-the-job training. 

What do you view as the district’s biggest strength? Why?

I have always felt one of our biggest strengths is our fiscal position. We all know that money makes the world go around. By being in a good financial position, we can offer opportunities to our students we otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Our sound financial position also helps attract qualified staff and young families to the district.

We have worked very hard at moving the district forward with limited funds and limited annual budget increases from the state. We have been able to make required improvements to the buildings at both the Monona and McGregor centers. We will continue these smaller improvements to both centers as funds allow.

What is an area(s) you feel MFL MarMac could work to improve and why? What changes would you suggest?

There is always room for improvement in the mental health area. We have employed strategies in the last few years to improve our recognition of mental health issues. We need to continue to work on identifying and aiding students that struggle with mental health issues. We are limited on what we can accomplish during the school day. Perhaps we need to find ways to reach and work with these students at home, through their employment and extracurricular activities. We also need to work at removing the stigma associated with mental health so those best in the position to help struggling students, their fellow classmates, can help identify those trying to cope with mental health issues.

I feel we still need to work on improving the rigor of the school. We have made definite strides on this the last few years, but there is still room for improvement. Our students need to be challenged every day, in a way that prepares them for the future. These challenges could be through tougher curriculum, higher expectations for grades and attendance, continued expectations that our students demonstrate responsibility and integrity and the realization that there is no free lunch.

 

Roberta Hass

Roberta Hass is a Riceville graduate and attended the University of Northern Iowa, receiving an elementary education degree and masters in reading education. She’s a national board certified educator in early and middle childhood literacy and taught for 29 years in the MFL MarMac School District after one year at Postville and two at Mar-Mac before having kids. In addition to teaching middle school, grades one and two at the elementary and Title 1, Hass has coached basketball, helped with the school garden and formed a reading program where she took books and activities to students over the summer. She has served on the district’s advisory committee, helped write the Teacher Leadership Compensation program, served and helped write the Educator Development Document with the Iowa Department of Education and was active in the association at the local, area and state levels.

Hass and her husband, Rick, have been married for 40 years and live on the family farm between Marquette and Monona. They have raised two children, Rita and Kyle, and have two grandchildren.

Why are you running for school board?

The education of our students has been a passion all my life. This is another way to serve the students and those who work closest to our students.

MFL MarMac is moving forward with plans for a fieldhouse and elementary addition/improvement project. In March, voters are expected to vote on a $6.8 million bond referendum measure to help pay for it. Do you support the project? Why or why not?

I do support the bond issue and these are my reasons: first of all, the elementary needs bathrooms desperately. There are periods of time when they have 100 kids running through there to get to the bathroom. Creating more space in the entry way of the building would also offer needed space for students and staff to use. 

The fieldhouse is needed as well. PE for the students during the day could be better scheduled both at the high school and elementary levels. Having gym space for practices means students could be home at an earlier time and focus on their academics. Having a walking track and making it available to the public would be a great addition to the community, so folks who want to get some exercise in the winter will have a safe place to do it. 

I understand that, if there is money left over, then the lunchroom would get some much-needed work.

What additional learning opportunities would you like to see MFL MarMac offer or explore?

I know the staff and administration are always looking at the best ways to help the students be well-rounded. Something I’ve been aware of is mental health. With that, I would be interested in more inservices dealing with trauma-centered classrooms, where we’re really looking at what can help these kids, whether the trauma is at home or at school. 

Partnerships would be great with local businesses, and technology is always changing, so we need to find the tools that best help us and are affordable.

I believe it is important to have a balance of offerings for students, and I feel we do a great job of this for the size of the district. Students are involved in FFA, speech, music, sports and other activities that keep them involved with education, while possibly finding a career path in the process.

What do you view as the district’s biggest strength? Why?

Staff and administration have a good working relationship. Students feel safe in that environment because they can focus on learning at the highest potential.

What is an area(s) you feel MFL MarMac could work to improve and why? What changes would you suggest?

I would like to see that class sizes at the elementary are kept at as low a number as possible. Having that teacher-student contact every day is really important and critical in those first years. It’s the foundation for the future.

I know that we have a district advisory committee that meets during the year to set goals and develop them. It would be wonderful if we had more community people to serve in that capacity. That would even help with the bond issue because that’s where it started.

 

Tonya Meyer

Tonya Meyer and her husband, who are both MFL MarMac graduates, have lived in Monona for 13 years and have two daughters. Meyer spent most of her school age years living in Marquette and McGregor. She has worked as a dental hygienist at Family Dentistry Associates of Monona for the past 13 years. Meyer was a member and president of the Little Bulldog Childcare Center board of directors until joining the school board.

Why are you running for school board?

Our children’s education is why I became interested in the school board. Education and continued growth of our school district are why I am running for re-election.

MFL MarMac is moving forward with plans for a fieldhouse and elementary addition/improvement project. In March, voters are expected to vote on a $6.8 million bond referendum measure to help pay for it. Do you support the project? Why or why not?

Initially, I questioned whether a new fieldhouse was the right thing for our district. After input, discussion and processing the information, I am now a big supporter of this project. First and foremost, I feel this project will really set our district apart from the others, and will appeal to families looking for a great family oriented community with a school district that is current and thriving. As a result, our student numbers will continue to increase and local businesses will have more support from these new families. The new elementary addition/improvement will provide long needed updates as well as improve safety for students and staff. A new fieldhouse will allow for more and improved practice and competition times as well as an improved experience for spectators attending sporting and other events.

What additional learning opportunities would you like to see MFL MarMac offer or explore?

I feel it is important that our district continue to expand the use of technology and project based learning for all grade levels. I would like to see more trade program opportunities for high school students. I am also interested in taking a closer look at how testing data is utilized to improve teaching and learning in our district.

What do you view as the district’s biggest strength? Why?

Administrators, teachers, staff and coaches in our district go above and beyond, and really work together to provide the best educational experience for the students.

What is an area(s) you feel MFL MarMac could work to improve and why? What changes would you suggest?

There is, and always be, the need for improvements. Whether it’s upgrades or changes to the facilities, implementing new curriculum or technology, budget changes, etc., these are addressed as needed and as the budget allows. Some improvements the district can budget and pay for on it’s own, but some projects, such as the fieldhouse/elementary project, need the help of the community.

 

Collin Stubbs

Collin Stubbs and his wife, Shelly, live on a small acreage outside Luana and have been married for 23 years. They have two sons, Chase, who is a junior at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, and Ethan, who is a senior at MFL MarMac. After spending 25 years with Cabela’s, he recently started a new business that specializes in contract warehousing and distribution.  Stubbs has been actively involved with many youth activities over the past 15 years and currently enjoys volunteering his time as a school board member and as an assistant coach for both wrestling and baseball.

Why are you running for school board?

I chose to run for school board because I enjoy being involved in our community and the school. It’s a way that I can give back and help provide our community with a school district everyone can be proud of. In small communities like ours, the school is often times the heartbeat of the community and I want to help ensure our schools continue to remain strong for many years to come. I want MFL MarMac to be considered the leaders in education, not just in northeast Iowa, but in the entire state of Iowa. 

MFL MarMac is moving forward with plans for a fieldhouse and elementary addition/improvement project. In March, voters are expected to vote on a $6.8 million bond referendum measure to help pay for it. Do you support the project? Why or why not?

I absolutely support this project 100 percent. This project will help to ensure the strength and stability of our school district for many years to come and is something the entire community can be very proud of. 

What additional learning opportunities would you like to see MFL MarMac offer or explore?

I would like us to continue growing all areas of the curriculum we offer our students. We have an obligation to do our best to ensure we offer something for everyone. Some students want to be doctors and lawyers, and that is awesome, but we also have students that have other interests. We need to prepare every student to be successful in whatever they chose to do in life. In particular, I think we have an opportunity to further advance our vocational and technical trades and skills at the high school level. I think people are beginning to recognize that we still need farmers, plumbers, electricians, welders and construction contractors in this world. A four-year degree may not be the best option for everyone and certainly is not a pre-requisite for a successful career. I would like to see us as a school board pursue opportunities to involve members of our own community in the education process for some of those trade skills.

What do you view as the district’s biggest strength? Why?

Without a doubt, our district’s biggest strength has to be its people. It starts with our amazing students, our dedicated staff of teachers and administrators and each and every member of our communities. Things may not always be perfect, but we are very fortunate here at MFL MarMac to live and raise our children in such an amazing community.

What is an area(s) you feel MFL MarMac could work to improve and why? What changes would you suggest?

I think, as board members, teachers and administrators, we have to always be challenging ourselves to be looking for new and innovative ways to improve the education we provide our students here at MFL MarMac. From the types of courses we offer to the way we teach the curriculum, times change and we have to change with them if we want to continue to be leaders in education. 

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