Board of Education Appreciation Month

In the heart of our community, a group of exceptional individuals is dedicated to shaping the future of education within our district. As Board of Education Appreciation Month is celebrated in January, a well-deserved spotlight is cast on each member of the Solomon School Board. These are a few of the faces behind the decisions, the voices championing progress, and the hearts dedicated to building a brighter future for all.

Andrea McCook, the Vice President of the board, initially joined after a friend asked her to consider the position. Knowing that she wanted to be involved in the school community as her children started school, she is happy that she did. Her motivation for her work is the rewarding feeling she gets when she sees student success, and she enjoys working with teachers, staff, and school administrators. McCook is proud to see how the past strategic plans have benefited the district, including the hard work it took to encourage the community, staff, and students to support the bond that led to updating the school facility. She stated, “Enrollment numbers continue to rise, and we hear positive things about Solomon from surrounding communities, and I am proud to be a part of that.” 

Another board member, Rob VanDeCreek, shared that he is glad he joined the school board. “It has opened my eyes to the internal workings of how a district works and the processes it takes sometimes to accomplish certain things,” he stated. His motivation to serve stems from his two daughters, and wanting to be a part of making sure they get a great education. VanDeCreek has over 20 years of sports and recreation business experience, claiming that over the years he has done anything from sales and service to administration and long-term planning. He believes that his athletic approach provides a unique perspective to the board, adding “I would like to believe that I can take what I do and apply it to bettering the athletic programs in the district particularly.” He is proud to have been a part of the updates of the school facility and the creation of the Early Learning Center. VanDeCreek values recognizing and rewarding those who go above and beyond, which reflects his personal goal for the school: to make the district a better place. 

Denise Miller, another member of the board shared that her inspiration and motivation for working on the board revolves around the children of the community, including her own. She prides herself in her experience in the school system, teaching at the community preschool, and even acting as a substitute teacher in previous years. Her devotion was clear when she stated, “I care a great deal about children and I wanted to be a voice for them.” She hopes to leave behind a legacy that all the children in her life never felt that she was too busy for a warm moment of encouragement or a hug. Reflecting on her time on the board, she believes it has been very constructive and dynamic, mentioning that she has many proud moments. 

Leanitta Heller, whose full-time role in mental health reflects strong advocacy for all individuals' social and emotional well-being. In her life as a dedicated mom, coach, friend, and volunteer, Heller draws from her experiences to have a better understanding of the needs of families within our community. Heller takes pride and joy in being an active community member. One notable project that Heller was proud to participate in was her involvement in the community advisory committee for the bond project. Heller takes pride in her contribution to the development of the plan and expressed, “To get to see it made into a reality has been something I will never forget. It is a huge accomplishment not only for those involved but for the entire community.” Looking ahead, Heller envisions a legacy as a school board member that not only she can be proud of, but one that makes her children and grandchildren proud. “I hope to advocate for the changes needed, and to see the continued growth and development in a school district I am proud to raise my children in.” 

There are two new faces to the school board this year, including Jennifer McDowell. Her background in Human Resources and Talent Acquisition spans nearly two decades, which has shaped how she collaborates and engages with others on both a personal and professional level. McDowell states, “My overarching goal is to ensure equitable treatment for everyone. This involves active listening, empathetic understanding of their concerns, and making decisions that prioritize the collective welfare of others whenever feasible.” Her journey to the school board was inspired by her family’s relocation to Solomon two and a half years ago, seeking a community that would welcome them with the open arms of a family. Although this is her first year on the board, McDowell was eager to get involved as soon as possible. Motivated to add to the educational environment for Solomon staff and students, she joined the Site Council Committee and has been contributing ever since. McDowell enjoys cheering on her daughter and son in their high school and Solomon Rec athletics, noting that it also helps her have a deeper understanding of other aspects of the school and community dynamics. 

Brandon Legg is the other latest addition to the board. Legg reflects that he was inspired by his wife, who is involved in various community organizations, to get involved and join the school board. With four kids in Solomon, he believes that they will be an unwavering source of motivation to change the school for the better. Legg hopes that during his time on the board, he will be known as someone who doesn’t shy away from tough situations or disagreements, but always handles them respectfully. He stated, “I have always been taught to not be afraid of conflict but be respectful when you are having it. You can’t always go with the flow, you have to be willing to stand up and ask questions if you want to make a change.” With a background and career in agriculture, he noted how much he values adaptability and efficiency, which will influence his approach to educational leadership. Outside of his work and career, he enjoys taking care of his small family animal farm and cheering on his children at their athletic events. 

Each board member has a different story, but together they will continue shaping the educational landscape for the benefit of students, teachers, and the entire community. As we express our gratitude during Board of Education Appreciation Month, let us celebrate the unique perspectives and shared commitment of our school board members, Brad Homman, Andrea McCook, Rob VanDeCreek, Denise Miller, Leanitta Heller, Jennifer McDowell, and Brandon Legg.