CANDIDATE PROFILES: Sanders County School Board
April 7, 2022
NAME: Jen Christensen
EDUCATION: BA in Elementary and Secondary Education, Health/PE/Biology
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? I have been involved in many areas of education and I have a vested interest in making our school the best it can be. As a former teacher, I understand issues from the educator’s side. I have two children attending Hot Springs schools, and relate to parents’ points of view. I have coached junior high volleyball, been a member and president of our local PTO, and was the Title 1 parent involvement coordinator. I feel like these experiences and my willingness to visit with students, parents, teachers and administrators will help us all reach common goals for Hot Springs schools.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? I would like to see better tracking of student progress across all learning levels. I think all students should be challenged whether they are struggling or are at the top of their class. I would like to help make sure all students are striving for their next goal, and are given a conductive learning environment to help them reach these goals. I would like to help make sure that achievements reached in Hot Springs schools are relevant and that our students are prepared for college, trade schools and the workforce.
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students? Again, I think my willingness to talk to everyone involved will help me make the best choices for all students. I encourage students, parents, and teachers to voice their concerns and praises so that those involved in the decision making processes can be informed before decisions are made. That and I am willing to do the necessary research before making decisions.
NAME: Kadilyn Renee Roragen (most often go by Renee Roragen)
EDUCATION: High School Diploma 2012; some college (approx.. 3 years, focused on health and health sciences)
OCCUPATION: Owner of Wild Pursuit Pet Treats/Office Manager
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? As a parent of 3 young children, 2 of which currently attend Dixon School, I understand the struggles and dilemmas of the modern day parent. Working as a substitute teacher, along with my kids attending the school, has allowed me to interact with the students and staff, giving me a picture of the needs and current status of our school. I want to give our school a board member that is actively involved, and I believe I am that candidate.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? The school has done a great job putting more emphasis on programs, sports and organizations for students attending, and I would like to see that continue to grow and develop.
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students? I work as a substitute teacher for the Dixon school and have actively participated in school board meetings and various school functions. Working one on one with staff and students, I get to see the strengths and weaknesses of our school personally, and can therefore actively work to change or grow whatever is needed for the students of Dixon.
NAME: Mary (Baker) Halling
EDUCATION: 2.5 years, University of Montana
OCCUPATION: Licensed Property Manager and Real Estate Agent
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? As a graduate of Plains HS (1986) and a mother of three kids who have all graduated from Plains, I have a good history of the school and community. I believe in hard work, discipline and integrity; attributes which have helped me establish a successful Real Estate and Property Management business since 2005. I enjoy reading historical biographies, gardening and hanging out with pets and family. Lastly, I am a keen believer that communication is key. No one knows what is best for a child more than a parent. Parents need to know their input is valued and necessary.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? I would like to see more engagement with our community trades-people. I envision a strong entrepreneur influence wherein established business-people can help our youth. Sanders County is still an area where a skilled trades-person can make a very good living. Some of our wealthiest community members are electricians, plumbers, builders, excavators, etc.… We hear a good deal about how there isn’t much to keep our youth here after graduation. We will shortly have a great void in trades-people in our county if our youth are not encouraged to pursue such careers.
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students? Again, parents must be heard and understood. There are issues on the national stage in which parents have recently become engaged. A school board member should represent the interests of the parent as well as the student. How do they feel about remote learning due to Covid? Masks? Critical Race Theory? Trans-Gender bathrooms and athletes? I have attended the school board meetings in Plains for the last year, which I feel has been perhaps the most significant time in our schools. I feel most parents and students do not wish to repeat the events of the past 2 years.
NAME: Brian Meaden
EDUCATION: B. A. in Youth Ministry, Prairie College
OCCUPATION: Executive Director of Camp Bighorn, Outdoor Experiential Education
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? Having worked with youth for over 15 years in various capacities, including experiential education, I understand the needs of students. I coach sports in our community and my two children attend Plains Schools. I value this community, and I want to help make it a better place. I am level-headed, a natural problem-solver and a team player. I value listening to opposing views and finding a middle ground. As the executive director of Camp Bighorn, I am familiar with the workings of a board.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? One change I would like to see implemented in our school district is an increase in after school programs and clubs focusing on arts, sciences, and athletics. Allowing children opportunities to learn more and to practice their interests in a safe environment is key to long-term success and to developing well rounded individuals. If I am elected to the school board, I will listen well to all opinions and help make decisions which best serve our community and children.
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students? I believe the school is the heartbeat of a community. I will listen to parents, students, and school staff, keeping students at the forefront of decisions. When the school thrives, families and the community also thrive. I plan to make decisions that help students be excited to come to school. Excitement begins with creating a culture which supports each other, listens to the needs of others, and helps each other through—not around— the challenges we face.
NAME: Beau French
EDUCATION: Paradise Grade School, Plains High School, University of Montana COT
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? I think anyone can make a good candidate for a school board position. You just have to be there for all the right reasons. It's not about you. It’s about the kids and providing the very best education for every kid enrolled in the school.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? I don't feel like change is the right word. I feel like we as board members need to take in and process information given to us on a particular issue and decide the plan of action that is appropriate for the situation presented to the board one thing at a time.
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students? Honesty and Integrity above all. Without students you don't have a functioning school. They are the most important piece to the puzzle. We have to understand that the era that these kids are being brought up in is extremely different than even I was brought up in, with information of all kinds right at the tip of their fingers. In turn that creates distraction and the ability to focus. We have to adapt and encompass this, to provide the best possible education.
NAME: Carolyn Nesbitt
EDUCATION: BA in Liberal Studies at the University of California San Bernardino, California
Masters Degree in Administration Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California
OCCUPATIONS: Teacher, instructors at College of the Desert, also worked as an assistant principal, elementary principal and mentor teacher.
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? The attributes that I feel make me a good candidate for the Trout Creek School Board begin with my residency here, my lifelong involvement in education, my personal commitment to providing an excellent education to EVERY child plus my ongoing dedication to parents and staff. I feel we can improve student outcomes by involving parents in their children’s academic experiences. It is imperative that we promote a collaborative approach to supporting students’ academic, social, and emotional development.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? I would like to see Trout Creek School implement more professional development that will enhance the quality of instructional delivery while cultivating an environment that encourages open communication with colleagues, students, and community,
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students? If elected I will be visible at the school and within the community plus encourage student communication as well as that of their parents/families.
NAME: Scott Rasor
EDUCATION: Noxon Public Schools, Class of 1985; Attended Montana Tech obtained BS Degree in Occupational Safety & Health
OCCUPATION: Chief Marketing Officer for Hub International Mountain States Insurance
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? After attending Noxon Public Schools for all 12 years and then successfully completing my college education, I have a true appreciation of the importance of primary and secondary education and how it builds the foundation needed for our youth to succeed. I’ve worked in both the public and private sectors throughout my career and I understand the balance of doing what’s best for people, or in this case our students, while holding discipline to our budgetary constraints and remaining fiscally responsible.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? We need to continue to be creative in the programs we offer at our school district. Both teacher professional development and ongoing curriculum improvement will result in a more robust learning environment for our students of all ages. We need to stay current with technology and this will require future investments from our supportive community.
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students? I’ve been serving on the Board since last Fall when a seat was vacated mid-term. If elected for another 2 year term, I will continue to work within the budget we have been given and make decisions that improve our facilities and create a better learning environment for our students. Fiscal responsibility is important to me and I will continue to work closely with the faculty and administration to ensure we are providing our students with the most comprehensive and creative education as possible.
NAME: Alicia Myers
OCCUPATION: Licensed Practical Nurse, Admissions Specialist
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? I believe that my experience with the school as a past student myself, a parent to multiple kids in the school currently, and a staff member gives me a well-rounded view of how the school functions and what the needs are for both faculty, and students. I recognize that if I am elected to be on the board that I will be resigning from current position, as per policy, so that I may focus all my energy on supporting the board, faculty, and students.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? The main change that I would like to see in our school district is to see the board and faculty alike form a united front keeping the best interest of the children as our priority, which means that we will have to learn to embrace changes to see growth occur.
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students? I will ensure that I am making the best choices for the students as I will be interactive with the student body and faculty by being present within the school. I will be attentive to testing scores and ensure that the board provides the proper tools, talent, and technology to enhance our academic performance.
NAME: Lisa Ruen
EDUCATION: Graduated Thompson Falls High School and some college at university COT in Missoula for paralegal studies
OCCUPATION: Homemaker/ Substitute
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? I was raised in the community and educated in the same buildings and taught by some of the same educators as my children. When my children began attending public school I wanted to continue to be active in their educational growth, so I began subbing in the school.This ignited a new passion to help better our school system. I feel it’s important to be involved in the decisions being made for our children and staff. I have had some of these teachers growing up and subbing made me realize how much more I would like to be involved.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? Our school has failed to utilize one of its most abundant resources. Parents. Parents have had to fight to have the ability to participate in classrooms or even volunteer. Our school wants to improve our schools which is fantastic, but they have failed to put bids out to local contractors. Allowing the community to participate in the improvements. Instead of outsourcing to businesses that are less likely to reinvest those funds into our community and our students. I would like to see more community involvement with our schools and parents. Less lack of communication and more guidance from the board.
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students? I am not afraid to step up and do the work; to have the hard conversations, to listen to questions and concerns and stand up for our staff members. I feel that our community can see that people are trying to make a difference, because people keep running for school board positions. If elected I will address what is the highest priority at the time also by listening to questions and concerns given by all. I do think the children come first but it’s also important to take care of our staff members by addressing their needs as well.
NAME: Michael Beckman
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology
OCCUPATION: Retired Military
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? I have experience working on committees and work well with others. Also, I helped write and change policies while in the military. The process of developing policies should be a team effort, reflecting the input of every member. I completed an apprenticeship in counseling through the Department of Labor, am a patient person with common sense, and I think education is very important. After retiring from the military, I knew that I wanted to return to a small town in Montana and I would like the opportunity to serve the community in an area I feel is important.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? I would like to find ways to encourage attendance and promote the importance of education to ensure students get the most out of their opportunity to move forward in a positive direction, whether it be attending trade school, college, or no further education. Our students need real life skills in order to succeed.
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students? I’ve worked with military and civilian employees and it’s important to take everyone’s concerns into consideration, listening to all and finding a way to accommodate while still being accountable to Montana School standards. I’m committed to educational equity and feel students need the same opportunities regardless of their circumstances or long-term goals and will look at school practices and curriculum adjustments that will benefit the students.
NAME: Ramona Jacobson
EDUCATION: Graduated from Hamilton High School
What attributes make you a good candidate for the school board? Thompson Falls has been home to our family for 25 years. I am married with four children; three of whom have graduated from Thompson Falls HS; our youngest child is currently enrolled in HS. I have had the opportunity to help in classrooms, field trips, substitute teacher and attending the school board meetings.
What one change would you like to see implemented in your school district? I am eager to join hard-working Board Members, Administration, Teachers and Students. Change may become more evident as I become more familiar with board operations. We can always improve in the involvement of our student’s education and community.
If elected, how will you ensure you are making the best choices for all students?I want to Preserve Fundamental Education and Family Values. My motivation for joining the School Board was witnessing how fragile the School System in our country can be. We need to be educating, not indoctrinating our students. Students deserve strong and effective leadership so they are prepared to be productive citizens and have confidence and respect for themselves and others.