District 21 School Board members appointed Lori McCanna to fill the long-unoccupied Zone 3 seat following two Aug. 26 candidate interviews.
Four “yes” votes were recorded for McCanna, with one vote for the opposing candidate, Aaron Bowman of the school district’s budget committee.
McCanna, a manager for the Department of Human Services at The Dalles Self-sufficiency office, cited her 28 years of experience assisting people in finding employment as a solid basis for being a responsible board member.
“As a very young caseworker, I was idealistic and struggled with being too judgmental of other’s circumstances,” she said. “I helped women much older than me move past being on welfare. There were many that didn’t care too much for me because I was very pushy. I wanted better for them. I wasn’t always the best at how I delivered my message, but 28 years later I run into people all the time that say I’ve helped them. I have people tell me what a huge difference I’ve made in their lives because I pushed them and while I’m not at all perfect, I feel like I’ve made a difference, and that’s what I want to be remembered for.”
McCanna said that one of the most important things she thought board members could do to better the district was to encourage more parental involvement.
“I work in social services and see many parents who just aren’t involved,” she said. “A lot of a kid’s success begins at home. So when I saw the plea in the paper that another board member was needed, I thought, ‘I should do something.’”
When asked what their visions for the district were, both she and Bowman, an instructional assistant with Columbia Gorge ESD who works primarily with young children with developmental disabilities, said the Wahtonka Community School was a shining example of what the district was doing right.
“I think you guys were smart to see something outside the normal box that would work well for a lot of our kids and then set out to see it work so wonderfully for so many,” Bowman said. “That’s what got me through high school— that kind of ‘outside of the box’ thinking. It kept me in school and made me graduate.”
McCanna agreed that those students who fall through the cracks of the normal system are the ones that need non-traditional education methods to help them succeed.
“I am very excited about the success my niece has had just over the short summer she’s been at the alternative school,” she said. “She’s already made significant progress and is no longer a year behind in her education, and I think I’d like to see more of the concepts emphasized in alternative education expanded into the regular school system as well.”
Also a member of the implementation team for the district’s Sanctuary model, McCanna said she had a working familiarity with its values and concepts, which board members agreed would be an added benefit to having her on the panel.
Under normal circumstances, a member of the community living within Zone 3, which is bounded by Irvine, Walnut and 10th streets, would apply and be approved for the position now filled by McCanna.
However, since no one who lives within the zone had come forward to apply for the position in almost two years, the board chose to appoint someone from elsewhere in the community to temporarily fill the seat until June 30, 2015.
To learn more about the district and its operations, visit the district’s website at www.nwasco.k12.or.us.