Editor’s note: Have you ever wondered what a school board does? Today marks the third installment of an eight-part series focused on what the St. Vrain Valley board does and getting to know its members.
Tuesday: Five questions with Siegrist
Today: Five questions with Paula Peairs, board vice president
Thursday: Five questions with Karen Ragland, board treasurer and assistant secretary
Friday: Five questions with John Ahrens, board secretary
Saturday: Five questions with member Chico Garcia
Sunday: Five questions with member Jim Berthold
Monday: Five questions with member Richard Martyr
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Originally from Westchester County, New York, I have lived in Colorado for 17 years. I graduated from Bucknell University and received an MBA in health care administration and finance from the University of Connecticut. I worked professionally in managed health care for 15 years before pausing to raise three children, who all graduated from St. Vrain Valley schools. That focused time as a parent introduced me to local education in several volunteer roles.
Why did you run for the school board?
I ran for the school board because I think public education is foundationally critical for any community, state and our nation. I believe my experience as a parent in SVVSD and as a founding member of Grassroots St. Vrain, a local nonprofit education advocacy group, gave me important insight into the challenges, demands and details of public education. Coupled with my background in business, I wanted to bring a broad lens approach to the school board.
What is your favorite thing about SVVSD?
My favorite thing about SVVSD is the sustained ability to balance expanding educational opportunities with parity throughout our system for schools and students. The work focuses on all students having equal opportunity for excellence, while the pathways may be different. I admire the endless creativity and drive to granulate programming and enrich student engagement so every student has means to be connected to their education, and therefore invested in it. As St. Vrain has worked to differentiate modern education, I value the community of schools St. Vrain has built. Our students have options and agency, receive the highest quality education, and know they are a part of the St. Vrain family.
What do you feel is the biggest way you contribute as a school board member?
I feel the key role of the school board is to provide strategic oversight and direction. I believe the work of prior boards to establish our vision and mission statements still stands strong today. Our more recent work to establish 10 strategic priorities has proven to be a critical road map — these are the core metrics to watch during business as usual and a crisis.
I believe my biggest contribution is to provide the superintendent with input from different parent and stakeholder perspectives and provide direction, consultation and eventually approval. I think my biggest responsibility as a school board member is to listen and understand the issues from a non-educator perspective, to understand the operational capacity, financial limitations, state mandates, etc., and with strong baseline knowledge and question and support the superintendent and staff as they work toward inventive and resourceful solutions to maximizing education delivery.
Can you share your favorite memory or story about how you interacted with parents, the community and/or students?
Each year, St. Vrain brings a cohort of students to attend the student strand at the Colorado Association of Schools Board conference. My favorite memories are talking to these students over a bagel and coffee about what they learned from non-St. Vrain students, listening to feedback on what we could do better and appreciating their thoughts on the things we do well. Every time I interact with students, I am so impressed. From their well-thought-out ideas to their courteous handshakes at graduation, St. Vrain students are second to none.