A fond farewell
School district celebrates legacy of departing school board members
Laughter and tears punctuated Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting, as teachers, administrative officials, and even a former MVWSD superintendent commemorated the departure of trustees Ed Bailey, Steve Olson and Fiona Walter.
The three outgoing trustees were officially recognized for their service to the district at the Nov. 15 meeting — their last before the newly elected board members, Christopher Chiang, Bill Lambert and Steven Nelson, take over.
"I just want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for what you've done for this district," Donna Campbell said in front of a packed board room. Campbell, who teaches at Bubb and also serves as the head of the district's teachers' union said she greatly appreciated the work all three had done during their tenure.
"They always put students first and never allowed their personal interests interfere with the greater good of the districts and the students," Superintendent Craig Goldman told the Voice. "I'm extremely grateful for their service to the district. This was an exceptional board."
The departing board members were at times emotional as they addressed the crowd, teachers, district administration and fellow trustees.
Walter made sure to credit the Mountain View Whisman community for all the support that the board received over the years she served. "Nothing happens without hours and hours and hours of community involvement," she said, as she tried to keep her composure. She also thanked the district's administrative staff. "We have a brilliant staff here at the district office."
Bailey compared the board to his family, most of whom were present in the audience. "Outside my family, I think that this is the best team I'm aware of."
And Olson said it had been "an honor" to work on the board, thanking his "amazing colleagues." He also made a point of thanking former superintendent Maurice Ghysels, who spoke favorably of the board.
"The three of you flipped the MVWSD from a district that was spiraling down to one that is spiraling up," Ghysels said in a brief speech to the board.
All three incoming trustees were in the audience, and the outgoing board members had some words of advice for them as they took their new positions as the majority of the district's governing body — to listen carefully to the advice of the administrative staff and to always try to keep their personal views at an arms-length so they might objectively evaluate all the proposals that come before them.
"You've got some big shoes to fill," said current board member Phillip Palmer, addressing the incoming trustees.
"We are clearly going to miss their leadership and engagement," Goldman said. "At the same time we're highly hopeful that the new trustees will see the current board members and retiring board members as models.