Lakota school board honors longest-serving member

Lakota’s school board recently extended a heartfelt “thank you” to Board President Joan Powell for her 16 years of service.

Board Vice President Lynda O’Connor presented a crystal gavel at the start of Monday’s school board meeting, the last of Powell’s tenure.

“Joan is one of the smartest people that I know and her guiding intention has been toward the youth and the children of this community,” O’Connor said, before presenting Powell with the engraved keepsake. “She’s wielded a gavel for many years, and so we thought it was fitting tonight to present Joan with a very special gavel of her own.”

O’Connor said it was important to recognize the “extraordinary commitment” that is 16 years of school board service.

“It’s night after night away from home and family, attending a meeting like this, or a student event or a community event or a committee meeting,” she said.

There also are hundreds of emails and phone calls from community members, including questions, concerns, complaints and “every once in a while” a compliment, O’Connor said.

Because school board presidents typically respond to the public, Powell has carried the majority of that work for half of her tenure, O’Connor said.

Ohio Sen. Bill Coley and State Rep. Margy Conditt also commended Powell for her years of service.

“Sixteen years on a school board?” Conditt said. “I actually think she’s a candidate for sainthood.”

“You have made life fuller for countless students and families and we applaud you on your tremendous work.”

Coley thanked not only Powell, but her family for her many years of service.

“The sacrifice that it take for all of us to participate in the spectacle that is public office comes with a great price paid by our families who have to endure us not being there,” Coley said.

Powell, Lakota’s longest tenured member, is leaving the board Dec. 31 at the end of her fourth four-year term.

Filling her spot is Lakota parent and corporate vice president Todd Parnell, of West Chester Twp., who was elected to the board along with incumbents Ben Dibble and Ray Murray, both of Liberty Twp.

Powell said she is most proud that the district has, for the past 11 years, earned the highest rating in state.

“That takes a real commitment from everybody to always keep the focus on the kids and their education,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard when … a budget is tight and there isn’t money to do what you know these kids need, but everybody I think keeps a good focus.”

Powell said being honored at her last meeting was “very meaningful.”

“It’s great to be recognized,” she said. “You don’t do this for the recognition but certainly it’s nice to know your efforts have been appreciated.”

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