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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mailbag: Hammann writes: Why I am running for School Board

Hello! Thanks to The Observer for this opportunity to introduce myself to the voters of the Evansville Community School District (ECSD). If you are regular readers of The Review, many of you may be familiar with my byline. Today I’d like to give you “The Brief History of Melissa.” My name is Melissa Hammann and I’m running for a seat on the ECSD Board of Education. I have been actively involved with the School District since our oldest child began Kindergarten in 1999. Beginning with learning stations in 1999 and continuing with K-5 PTO publicity co-chair from 2005-2009, I became familiar with what the district does well and areas that could be improved. With the help of the ECSD voters, I was privileged to serve on the ECSD Board of Education from 2007-2010. I served as Board Clerk and was a key contributor to a number of committees including Finance, Long-Term Strategic Planning, Co-curricular contract evaluation and Policy. My background as an industrial Analytical Chemist for over fifteen years served me well in these roles, particularly in the areas of finance and student achievement analysis. We have three children who have attended or are attending ECSD. Sarah graduated last year and is attending UW-Madison. Holly is a sophomore at EHS and Will is a seventh grader at JC McKenna Middle School. My husband Bill has been Plant Manager at D&K Coatings in Janesville since he sited and built the plant in 1997-1998. He has also been actively involved with the city as both a council member and now as a citizen member of the planning commission. We have embraced Evansville as our hometown and appreciate the many ways available to give back to the community. In addition to being involved with civic matters, our family has actively supported the Eager Free Public Library for many years. When we first moved here, the library was instrumental in providing opportunities for our kids to explore their world with the pre-school activities they sponsor weekly. As a way to repay this wonderful foundation for our kids, each year we have helped out with the EFPL Friends summer fund raising activities. The kids bake cakes, set up tables and scoop ice cream while Bill and I do our best to win bids at the auctions during the ice cream socials. We provide early morning muscle to organize and display about a ton of books (OK, maybe it only feels that way) for the annual City Sidewalk Days book sale. We love our library! You have probably surmised that my hobbies lean heavily toward reading of any kind. The scientist in me is also challenged by many different daily puzzles, including crossword, Cryptoquote, Sudoku and Kenken. I work on maintaining my fitness with a daily walk and Yoga at Creekside Place. When the pool is open, I swim laps whenever I can. I’m running for school board because, while I believe ECSD has many good attributes, I envision its excellence. Every child deserves a public school education that prepares them to successfully pursue their dreams, whether those dreams are to attend Harvard Medical School, to become the most outstanding carpenter in the tri-state area, to sing on Broadway or to enlist in a branch of the Armed Services. A vendor who was once trying to sell me a million dollar instrument asked me if I was from Missouri “because you don’t believe anything I tell you without me showing you.” That effectively summarizes my approach to everything: Trust but verify. School board members that provide an independent analysis of educational initiatives are valuable assets to their districts. I believe my data analysis skills were valuable when I was on the board previously and would provide a unique asset for the current board. The coming years of increased expectations in student achievement through Wisconsin’s new Agenda 2017 combined with unrelenting budgetary challenges will require board members who are capable of evaluating enormous quantities of data and drawing conclusions from that data that will help their district. I come before the voters ready to undertake that challenge. As an added bonus, I am fully informed as to the inner workings of School Finance, which has complex components not commonly seen in business models and is frequently counterintuitive. One common predicament that new school board members often face is the relatively long learning curve required to become an effective board member, particularly in the area of how School Finance. Some board members have noted that they were finally becoming comfortable in their role just as their seat was up for re-election. I have been continuously monitoring or involved in ECSD board business since 2006, first as a citizen activist, then as a board member and finally as a free-lance journalist. Those seven years of scrutinizing ECSD business is more than some current board members’ tenures. This experience will enable me to hit the ground running while preserving an essential eagle’s eye view of where ECSD has been and, more importantly, where it is going and how it can achieve its vision of excellence in all aspects of education.

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