Jennifer Coltrane doesn’t pretend to have the answers to challenges facing students and educators in today’s society.
“But I want to do my part to support them in all they do,” she said.
She often practices what she preaches.
Coltrane, who has three children between the ages of 7 and 14, is a frequent parent volunteer for all things scholastic, from showing up at school to read with a child or to serve on myriad Parent Teacher Organizations.
Now, she hopes to help with the administration side, as a candidate for USD 257 Board of Education.
Voters in Gas and LaHarpe will choose Tuesday between Coltrane and Tracy Lee for the school board seat to replace the outgoing Darrel Catron, who is not seeking re-election.
“When someone first suggested the idea (of running for the school board) a few years ago, I had no interest,” Coltrane said. “But as I have considered it further and some time has passed, it seems like the right time for me to give it a try. My kids are all in school now and I have a little more time to devote to activities outside the walls of our home.
“With three kids in three different USD 257 school buildings, I most definitely have a vested interest in what goes on within our school district.”
Coltrane has been a part of the community since arriving to Allen County 16 years ago, after having met and married Iola High School alumnus Aron Coltrane while both were students at Kansas State University.
She carries a degree in business administration with a focus in accounting from K-State, and worked for two years on a school finance team for the Kansas Department of Education from 2001 to 2003.
Since then, she’s worked as a stay-at-home mother to Audrey (a ninth-grader at Iola HIgh School), Rebeka (eighth-grader at Iola Middle School) and Micah (a first-grader at Jefferson Elementary School.
Coltrane also handles the bookkeeping and accounting for Coltrane Farms, Inc. (Aron is a farmer).
She’s served on PTO at LaHarpe and McKinley and Jefferson schools, and is now on the joint Iola PTO, serving as a room parent, treasurer and building coordinator. Coltrane also volunteers with the Accelerated Reader program.
A QUOTE from acclaimed teacher and historian Nicolas A. Ferroni encapsulates the challenge for USD 257 students, Coltrane said: “Students who are loved at home come to school to learn, and students who aren’t, come to school to be loved.”
“That is a fairly universal challenge facing teachers,” she said. “They often are expected to act both as parent and teacher, and be paid pitifully for it. We have wonderful staff here in Iola that does its best to rise up to meet this challenge. They need the support of our community.
“I do believe facilities are important and should be updated, but I don’t think that is the biggest piece of the puzzle for effective schools,” she continued. “Students need to know that they matter, that they are loved, and that their families and community care about helping them learn and succeed.”
One of her goals would be to facility more family and community input and involvement in the educational process.
“ As a Christian, I believe it is my responsibility to be involved in the education of my children as well as to serve in my community,” Coltrane said. “I look forward to the opportunity to support our wonderful school staff in all that they are expected to do with the limited resources available.”
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