After 12 years on the Whitefish School Board, Ruth Harrison says she’s running again to see the district’s biggest projects through.
“I am running because we are in the midst of such really exciting times in the district,” she told the Pilot last week.
Harrison was first elected to the board in 2006. Harrison has a degree in English and has worked as a teacher and a rancher for most of her life. She served eight years on the Pleasant Valley School Board as a trustee and clerk for the school as well.
For Harrison, the big issues facing the district are the ones they’ve been continually working on while she’s been on the board.
Building the new Muldown Elementary School and realizing the potential of the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship are the two obvious priorities, she says.
“The Muldown rebuild is going to be very important to the future of our district, how it’s handled, the end product and how it serves our kids,” Harrison said. “I’m very excited about the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship. It has a lot of potential for making our schools cutting-edge teaching institutions. It’s just an additional complement.”
School safety, especially following February’s deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, is also key.
“Clearly the safety of our students is on everyone’s mind in view of our current culture, not here in Whitefish so much but in the broader sense. So we’re working to make sure that we keep our kids as safe as possible,” she said.
Harrison commended the work done by board-appointed Safety and Security Citizens Work Group, and said she’s also attended some of the Run, Lock, Fight training the Whitefish School District staff completes.
Harrison said she was happy to see she can count on staff to step up in the face of danger.
“I think that a lot of our teachers felt a lot more certain that if they had to, they would know how to act and react rather than cowering in a corner, they know that if they’re pushed to it they can disarm someone, that they know how to channel their students to be in a safe place,” she said.
In her time on the board, Harrison says Muldown and the CSE stand out as the big highlight accomplishments.
She’s also impressed with the success of the writing coaching program, which she participates in, as well as the music program and FREEFLOW.
Harrison notes she’s been happy with the direction the district has been on during her 12 years on the board.
She’s pleased with the engagement of the board members, despite occasional disagreements, and thinks the board is always doing its best to support Whitefish’s students.
“Our board is very thoughtful. There are people who think things through very deeply. We have other people who ask a lot of questions, and whether we always agree with one of another or not, it provokes a lot of careful thought and collaboration,” she said.
“It is important that we serve those students truly. We’re always working to accomplish that in a better way.”
There are three candidates seeking two positions for three-year terms on the board. Election Day is May 8. Voting is at the district office at Whitefish Middle School.