My Utica Community Schools story begins in elementary school when I began at Flickinger before being transferred to Dresden. I went to Eppler Junior High and then Utica High School. I was involved in extracurricular activities at the school, including being part of a baseball championship team in 1983. I was involved also involved in DECA – Distributive Education Clubs of America - where I had the honor to be the only Michigan student to qualify for the nationals. I also appreciate Utica High School for a program called Cheiftain Charades, which was very similar to Saturday Night Live and allowed introverted students like myself to get up on stage and come out of our shell. Also, I am appreciative to Utica High School because that is where I met my wife.
Now that I am an elected official, I really appreciate representing this school district. When we go up to Lansing and discuss and debate the educational issues, all I have to do is turn to the second largest school district in the state of Michigan -- Utica Community Schools -- and see that we do it better than anyone else in the state. If we are debating an educational issue, I have a point of reference to go back and say this is how we’re doing it in Utica Community Schools and we’re doing it the right way. I argue that before we look at other options, we should first see if we can replicate what Utica Community Schools does.
My background in business is in turnaround operations. So when we made a turnaround and it was successful, people would wonder "what is the silver bullet?" There never was one is the answer. The same applies to our school district. The quality comes from a community that really cares, excellent teachers and an administration that provides solid leadership. It is the integration of all three of those things over fifty years that has created this tradition of excellence in Utica Community Schools.
I have lived in this school district for 35 years now and know that investing in our schools will pay back in the value of our homes. I know for a fact that our home values are higher because people respect the job that Utica Community Schools does for the children of this community.
As far as the future of our schools, I think all of us are facing great change in many aspects of our lives. The population is diversifying and there is great pressure on public schools to perform better in the face of competition. Change is uncomfortable and can create unease, but change can also be the boost that you need to continue providing excellence. Utica Community Schools has a foundation in quality education. I do not think there is a school district that is in a better position to address these changes than Utica Community Schools. I am excited to see what the future brings for our community.
Utica Community Schools Board of Education