In the house where I grew up, being an educator was the second-highest calling one could pursue. My dad is still an icon of Kansas education. My son and daughter-in-law continue the tradition. So when the national organization that serves as the national office for state school boards association was struggling, and friends encouraged me to help out, that fundamental belief tipped the scales. I had no idea about the challenges that awaited. I also had no idea the help that I would get in facing those challenges. It is with pride of accomplishment that I pass the torch on this last day of June.
The help came from so many different places. We are a membership organization, so it is appropriate to start there. State associations believed in NSBA and worked hard to stay involved. State leaders—association officers and executive directors — provided support, advice, and friendship as the board and staff made tough decisions and worked to right the ship. You served on committees, attended meetings, and offered encouragement. To you, I say thank you.
Public schools are a people business, but still have buses, balls, buildings, and beans. Associations are all about the people. The people who work at NSBA are committed, hard-working individuals who have adapted, embraced change, and taken on more duties and responsibilities. These folks, many of whom you never see or hear from, are what make NSBA work. To you, I say thank you.
What about a board that represents boards that represent boards? I just finished The Wager, a book that describes the terrors and travails of sailing around Cape Horn. If this board had led that armada, the adventure's outcome would have been far happier. This board provided leadership during the most difficult two years, and they did it with sacrifice, professionalism, wisdom, and hard work. To you, I say thank you.
Another group of folks I need to mention are the advisors NSBA used along the way. In some of the darkest times, the board and leadership team received quality advice from experts without whom the course would not have been clear. To you, I say thank you.
The support I received from my family made a challenging situation bearable. Living 2,000 miles from my wife and 1,000 miles from my kids and granddaughter wasn't easy, but it may have been for the best because stress can make an already-hard-to-live-with individual unbearable. To you, I say thank you.
Finally, a shout-out to an exceptional leader who is now stepping into the gap, taking the helm, pulling the sword from the stone, and whatever other cheesy metaphor you want to use. Leaving an organization in a better place, in the hands of an outstanding individual is the best I could have hoped for two years ago. Verjeana McCotter-Jacobs, to you, I say good luck and Godspeed. But hard work and experience make luck, so you won't need that.