BEA school board picks new member

BLUE EARTH – Sheila Ripley of Blue Earth will be installed Aug. 12 as the newest member of Blue Earth Area School Board.

The board members interviewed three candidates Wednesday evening and quickly chose Ripley as the person to fill the vacancy left by Vickie Hanson’s death in May.

In addition to Ripley, the board talked to Kim Johnson and Lori Frisk-Thompson. Kara Drake had submitted an application, but later withdrew her name from consideration.

“I’d like to thank all who applied; it was not an easy decision,” said Mary Eckhardt, board member.

Ripley and her husband, Ken, have four children: the oldest will be a freshman and the youngest will be in kindergarten.

“We cover all the schools, elementary, middle school and high school. Four kids gives us a taste of what’s happening in each building,” Ripley said. “Four good reasons we have a vested interest.”

The board wanted to know what Ripley saw as the highest priority on which to spend district funds.

“Our education is extremely important,” she said. “Technology is really tough to keep up with. There are creative ways you can fund some of those projects. It’s a balancing act, I know that. You want kids to have a successful experience and achieve to their highest protential.”

The board asked how she would increase student achievement.

“Having students feel invested makes a big difference,” Ripley said. “Athletics, arts plays a big part. For some kids that leads them to do well academically.”

She has a degree in agriculture education from the University of Minnesota, volunteers in the classroom, coached sixth-grade spring volleyball and summer softball, and chaperoned community service days and field trips.

Ripley said the most important role of a board member is listening.

“I understand there are difficult decisions the board has to make. Some decisions aren’t always popular,” she said.

She listed her assets as being willing to listen and communicate.

“Hopefully, my communication skills will help the board,” she said.

The board agreed Ripley was the best choice based on her children, education background, and fitting in, said Frankie Bly, board chairman.

“Like she mentioned, she has four reasons for running for the school board,” Bly said. “Being a former teacher weighed in the board’s decision. She’s interested in being part of a team and working collaboratively with us as a board.”