Iowa City school board: Eager to listen, learn and lead

Why are you running for school board? I get that question a lot, lately. I’ll answer simply: Howard Vollberg.

Mr. Vollberg was my choir teacher in high school. I was a confused, depressed kid. I was adopted. My parents were divorced, my father was out of the picture, and our family struggled to get by on the salary my mother drew as a secretary. The only thing I cared about was music. I entered Mr. Vollberg’s Concert Choir class as a sophomore skeptical of this man who flailed and lunged at his students while directing. A lot of kids laughed at him, but no one could deny his passion.

Over the next three years, Mr. Vollberg gave me chances to build my skills. He believed in me in a way no one had before. He gave me rides home from after-school All-State Choir rehearsals. He created a chamber choir. He staged musicals. Mr. Vollberg turned a light on for me. Not many people in my family went to college. Mr. Vollberg got me university catalogs. He helped me find a voice teacher. He arranged auditions and ultimately I received a scholarship to West Virginia University.

Without Howard Vollberg, I wouldn’t be who I am today. He showed me I could be more. That’s what teachers do.

The year after I graduated, Howard Vollberg was shot after picking up a hitchhiker. He died about a year later from complications during surgery. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t have the emotional maturity to visit him while he was sick or go to his funeral. That’s one of the biggest regrets of my life.

I’m running for school board because every student deserves the chance to have a Howard Vollberg in their lives. Amidst the budget concerns and building plans, it’s sometimes easy to forget that schools are about teachers and students and the magic of the classroom. We need a board that will help us remember.

There are a lot of candidates in this race. All of them have something to offer. I don’t know everything — but I am ready to serve. I’m eager to listen, learn and lead. I ask for your vote so I can honor the memory of Howard Vollberg, who meant so much to me, but also to honor the teachers and staff who mean so much to our children and our community.

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