Ellis runs for proposed borough school board position
Jean Ellis is a lifelong resident of Petersburg and is currently serving as president of the Petersburg City School District Board. She has now put her name in the hat as a candidate for school board in the proposed Petersburg Borough.
“I served on the board from 1981 to 1987 then went off but came back in 2007,” Ellis said. “During my time off of the school board I served 13 years on the Petersburg Hospital Board.”
Ellis graduated from Petersburg High School and has a deep history in the area beginning with her grandfather who was a part of the 1910 Petersburg census.
“I have history here and I really care about the community,” Ellis said. “Petersburg is a very stable community. There are a lot of people that went to school with my mother, whose kids went to school with me, whose kids went to school with my kids and their kids are there now. I have a granddaughter who is in kindergarten now and I have an opportunity to look after her educational future on the board now.”
According to Ellis, the most challenging aspects of borough formation regarding the school board is there are not enough members.
“We need really active people that have the time and energy to put into the board,” she stated. “I am very pleased about our newest member, Cheryl File, because she has children in the school. It is good to have experience such as mine, but we also need a balance of younger people that really represent the students in the school.”
Ellis explained that the financial disclosure and needing 50 signatures issue discouraged some from running for the positions and they may have found it somewhat overwhelming. She also finds it amazing that more of the residents from the outlying areas have not filed for seats on any of the boards or assembly.
“I am extremely surprised that more people from outside the city limits have not run for seats in the borough,” Ellis said. “This is their opportunity to have a voice in so many issues they are having a problem with regarding this new borough government.”
There have been many changes to the school over the years while Ellis has served in this capacity.
“I think the biggest changes are in the technology,” she said. “Everyone has a computer and has the ability to stay connected with their studies, even as they travel.”
Ellis also explains that she doesn't see so many changes in the future for the school.
“I see more smart-boards and computers are just a wave of the future,” she stated. “Petersburg is actually on the cutting edge of that. When we are compared to other schools in the State of Alaska, we are ahead of everyone and I think that is a very important area.”
She also stated that because our students travel so much, she would like to see that new technology used to really educate them while they are away so when they do miss school, it isn't a detriment to their education.
“We talk about flip classrooms where there is a lot of work done on the computer and then you go back and work in the classroom,” Ellis said. “This helps our students not be so dependent on the classroom setting.”
According to Ellis, one of the things this community really values is travel. She says it is beneficial for our students to be able to travel and see a bit of the world and gives them the opportunity to see other communities at work and compare them.
“One of the points in our school policy is the amount of seat time we value,” she stated. “As a community and school, we don't value the seat time like other schools may. We just do the best we can to make sure the kids are getting an education all of the time and the possibilities are endless with the technology at hand.”
Ellis hopes there will be new opportunities for growing and keeping the population here in Petersburg.
“I think this is a great community, it's caring.” she said. “When it comes to Petersburg, you are either going to love it, or you will leave on the next plane. There is really no in between.”
She also explained that if the community could provide more jobs and more opportunities for schooling there would be more chances to keep the population here.
“With the new library comes new learning opportunities,” Ellis stated. “I believe the facilities we have, such as the aquatic center, the new library coming and the ball fields are all things that will draw families with children, and that is what we are looking for.”
“As we strengthen the school system, it will attract people to the community,” added Ellis.