Inaugural School Board Fellowship Cohort Seeks to Strengthen Regional Governance

The St. Louis region has a strong ecosystem of concerned and invested citizens. Fifteen fellows who mirror the city’s racial and ethnic demographics took the next step in fulfilling their civic duty by signing up for — and successfully completing — The Opportunity Trust’s inaugural School Board Fellowship (SBF). These fellows coalesced from a variety of backgrounds including, principals, parent advocates, doctors, researchers, and more, and have invested their time and energy preparing to serve on a school board. After completing 40 hours of training over the past 6 months, our fellows are poised to make an amazing impact.

SBF programming focused on four key things:

  1. 1. Building a network of like-minded public education advocates,
  2. 2. Learning about the education landscape in St. Louis and how to support public education,
  3. 3. Understanding how to be an effective school board member,
  4. 4. Supporting our fellows to join a charter school board, run for elected school board, or pursue other opportunities.

Guest speakers included current and former district superintendents, district and charter school board presidents, charter executive directors, communications experts, governance experts, national school board and non-profit governance experts with current or past experience leading in St. Louis Public Schools, Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, Hazelwood School District, Riverview Gardens School District, City Garden Montessori School, The Leadership School, Kirkwood Public Schools, Lindbergh Public Schools, Washington University of St. Louis, Saint Louis University, Columbia University, University of Kentucky, WEPOWER, and Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

As one of the fellows reflected, “The group of people in this cohort make me really excited because they are all so engaged, and they all have completely different backgrounds. I am optimistic that we can impact change regionally by taking the time to question and understand where the disparity lies and better understand not just how to address disparity…but how to be more equitable with resources and engagement.“

Another added, “The fellowship has been great in helping me visualize myself serving on a board. Relative to what my mindset before I started the fellowship, I absolutely have a much clearer understanding of what serving on a school board entails.”

This clarity has already gone along way as 7 of our fellows have been asked to join local charter boards, 5 are preparing to run for St. Louis City and County School Board seats, and the rest remain engaged with program leaders to determine their best options to participate in school governance.

For more information about school board fellowship visit our website: https://theopportunitytrust.org/fellowships/school-board-fellowship/.