Rising To The Top

Unexpected Changes Land Wilson In VSBA Leadership Role

Posted: January 5, 2013

Kerri Wilson, chairwoman of the Harrisonburg City School Board, has been named the Virginia School Boards Association’s president-elect. A VSBA member since 2006, she will assume the post of president in November. (Photo by Nikki Fox)
HARRISONBURG — In October 2011, Harrisonburg City School Board Chairwoman Kerri Wilson announced an end to her five-year service on the Virginia School Boards Association.
 
But as the Harrisonburg resident quickly found out, nothing ever goes exactly according to plan.
 
Now, a year after she planned to leave the organization, Wilson is gearing up for another three-year commitment to the VSBA, this time around serving back-to-back terms in its three highest capacities.
 
As of November, Wilson became the statewide association’s president-elect and will take over the presidency this fall before finally serving as past president starting in November 2014.
 
“I am excited to be serving in a new capacity,” said Wilson, who by a twist of fate found her name thrown in the hat to serve as the association’s president-elect.
 
After announcing plans to leave the VSBA, she was asked to fill the position of Valley region chair after Gayl Brunk, who had been slated to fill the post, failed to win re-election to the Rockingham County School Board.
 
“They had a hole to fill,” Wilson said. “I said, ‘Sure, it’s just a year.’ So, I really never left.”
 
But once she was elected to another four-year term on the Harrisonburg School Board in November, she also decided to continue with the VSBA, and accepted a nomination for president-elect — an honor she turned down in 2011 when she thought she would be leaving the board.
 
In the role of president-elect, Wilson will support the association’s president and prepare to take over the role of president herself.
 
As president, Wilson will oversee and make appointments to the association’s various committees and run numerous state conferences and meetings. She also will represent Virginia at National School Boards Association events.
 
The president also works “to find new ways for VSBA to advocate on behalf of Virginia’s schoolchildren,” said Wilson, who has been on the Harrisonburg board since 2004.
 
As a top leader with the VSBA, Wilson said it will be exciting to share some of Harrisonburg’s new programs with others from across the state, including the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, academy, and the new fine arts academy that will start later this year. Those academies give students the option of having a tailored course load in those respective subjects.
 
Wilson said the division also is a model for the way it’s created programs to serve the city’s large English as a second language population, which makes up about 36 percent of the division’s enrollment.
 
“Harrisonburg has some really cool things going on,” Wilson said. “I think it will be a great opportunity to really highlight the positive things going on as well as the struggles. I’m looking forward to bringing that with me.”
 
Wilson has been a member of the VSBA since 2006, holding various roles, including serving on the Federal Relations Committee. The committee, consisting of eight regional representatives, relays local school boards’ stances on national education issues and funding to the VSBA board of directors.
 
Until November 2011, she served as chairwoman of the Legislative Positions Committee, organizing meetings with school board representatives about changes to the VSBA’s stance on education legislation.
 
Her leadership roles on the board of directors culminated in her nomination for the office of president-elect.
 
“I was excited because I invested a good number of years in the organization,” Wilson said. “I like what they do, I like what they stand for [and] I think that their role is very important.”
 
Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or esharrer@dnronline.com


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