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Barry Mills

Barry Mills

Barry Mills

Age: 66

Education: Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 1970, B.A., University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, M.B.A.,University of Montana, 2013, M.Ed.

Career History: Fazer High School, Frazer, Montana teacher, 2015-2017, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Bremerton and Spokane Valley, Washington, Santa Fe, NM, Coeur d’Alene, ID, Cheyenne, various management positions

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your school?

The biggest challenge in today’s schools and not just in Stevensville, is preparing students, in Montana especially, for the post-secondary education, jobs and career climate that actually exist. With students routinely exiting college with a five-figure college loan debt, many find that there are no jobs (in the state), that require this credential for the application. The emphasis on high stakes testing, ACT, Smarter Balance, etc., misdirects the attention to the final destination awaiting our students.

According the Montana’s Labor and Industries Economic Forecast, the top five high demand occupations do not require a college degree: food preparation, sales and related, office and administrative support, health care practitioners and technical and construction. In addition, where the trades are concerned, more older workers are exiting the labor force than qualified younger people are entering it.

It would be better to guide our children into productive careers to begin their working life. While starting off in with a modest salary in a service or trades industry, for instance, may not be the glamorous poster occupation (that does not exist), it would seem better than taking the same entry level position, as many do now, with a large post-graduate debt.

Why is communication with the community important?

What we’ve got here, is a failure to see what may appear to be our differences, as facets of a larger design. It’s not an “education” problem. Far too often the educational dialogue is like listening to the proverbial one hand clapping.

Having observed two school boards for over three years, I must confess that most school board meetings have all the allure of a tax audit. The only time there seems to be lively debate (albeit negative) is when something goes contrary to someone’s expectations. By that time, the likelihood of finding a satisfactory resolution is only a misplaced hope.

I find that the problem is not for the lack of policy, procedures, practices, rules, guidelines, mission statements or even good intentions, but the daily application of trust, compassion, and willingness to see the other’s perspective. How the rules of conduct are applied, are just as crucial as what rules have been put in place.

A pivotal influence on me of late is the reading of Brene Brown, and her philosophy of compassion, connection and courage. It is only when we breakdown the walls of educationial-ese, that the conversation will work the way it’s supposed to.

Why are you the best candidate for school trustee?

I have striven always to dare greatly. I have a background in education and business. This allows me to understand the technical details of finance, budgets, and business aspects of public school administration. While at the same time my practical experience of business management has exposed me to the challenge of bringing managerial plans and budgets into focus with the daily demands of the workplace.

As an added bonus, having been in the classroom, I have seen the impact of administration and board policies, and have, again, tried to meet the challenges of bringing policy, practice and the daily life of teaching together to a successful outcome. I have succeeded and I have failed, but, I have come to embrace the motto: “Dare greatly.The credit does not belong to the critic, but to the one who is actually in the arena,who strives valiantly …, who at the best knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt.

In education, I believe we dare too small.

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