• School Board Vacancies

    The following individuals are the candidates (listed alphabetically) that will appear on the November 6, 2018 election ballot  to fill three full board of education terms of office; January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2022. 

    Dean Bolton - 4621 Ottawa Dr. Okemos

    Adam Candeub - 1185 Wrightwind Dr. Okemos

    Mary Gebara - 1374 Silkwood Dr. Okemos

    Michael Kieliszewski - 2750 Roseland Ave. East Lansing

    Vincent Lyon-Callo - 4112 Hulett Rd. Okemos

    The following individuals are the candidates (listed alphabetically) that will appear on the November 6, 2018 election ballot  to fill one partial board of education terms of office; January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020. 

    Katie Cavanaugh - 2487 Dobie Rd. Mason

    Don Romain - 5420 Jo Pass East Lansing

  • CANDIDATE FOR OKEMOS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    BOARD OF EDUCATION

    bolton

    Dean Bolton

     

    Biography

    Dean Bolton and his family moved to Michigan in 1999 and chose to live in Okemos solely based on the outstanding reputation of its public schools. He has volunteered in Okemos schools for the past 18 years.

    Dean was first elected to the Okemos Board of Education in 2014. He is currently President of the board, having also served as Parliamentarian and Vice President. Dean is the recipient of the Certified Board Member Award and the Award of Merit from the Michigan Association of School Boards.

    From 2008 - 2014, Dean led the Okemos Education Foundation as its chair. Dean’s district-wide service also includes working to develop and pass two bonds and a millage to support our schools: the Steering Committee of the 2007 Technology and Transportation Bond campaign; and Co-Chair of both the 2011 Building and Site Sinking Fund Millage and the 2013 Technology, Security, and Transportation Bond campaigns. In addition, Dean has served as Vice President of the Central Elementary PTO (3 years), President of the Chippewa Parent Group (2 years), and as an Okemos Parent Council Representative (3 years).

    Before being a stay-at-home dad, the best job he has ever had, Dean, a native of Houston, Texas, graduated from Northwestern University. With a degree in the arts, he worked for 12 years in Chicago, Illinois as a theatre lighting technician and an Actors Equity Association stage manager, primarily at The Goodman Theatre and Northlight Theatre. Prior to moving to Michigan, Dean owned and operated a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise in suburban Chicago for 7 years. Dean currently works for the Michigan Public Health Institute as a coordinator of  their Interactive Learning Conference Center.

    Dean has two sons, Lowell (OHS’13) and Miles (OHS ’17), both of whom attended Okemos Public Schools beginning in Kindergarten. Dean’s wife, Helen Taylor, is state director in Michigan for The Nature Conservancy.

    Candidate Statement

    I have had the great privilege to support the Okemos school community in a variety of volunteer positions over the past 18 years, including my current role as President of the Board of Education, as well as leading the Okemos Education Foundation for 6 years and several successful bond and millage campaigns to support our schools and meet the needs of our students. I hope to continue to support student learning and achievement as a member of the Okemos School Board and ensure that Okemos Public Schools continue to rank among the best in our state and nation. I want to meet the high expectations of our community and build on our tradition of excellence in preparing our children for success. 

    Through all of my Okemos leadership experiences, I have witnessed the challenges that the district has faced in the past and the remarkable way our community has come together and met those challenges to provide our children with a world-class education. This is due to dedicated parents and talented faculty and staff who value a rigorous core academic curriculum in addition to the arts, athletics, and other extracurricular activities that support the educational development of the whole child. I will work hard to ensure that this district’s dedication continues for the benefit of all Okemos students. 

    I believe that by focusing our energy and attention on the needs of the whole child, we can facilitate collaboration among all stakeholders to provide opportunity and growth for every student. I see these relationships and collaboration as a wheel. At the center of the wheel are the students, and at the end of each spoke of the wheel are the Board of Education, Administrators, Faculty, Support Staff, Custodians, Food Service Workers, Transportation Workers, Paraprofessionals, Childcare Workers, Athletic Coaches, Volunteers, and Parents. I believe that mutual respect and trust for the critical role each of these spokes of the wheel plays in student success will result in optimal support for student learning and achievement. 

    Okemos is defined more by its school district than anything else. But as a community, we are not just defined by our accomplishments or what we create or what our students achieve. We are also defined by what we refuse to let happen. 

    Three years ago we began a journey to fulfill the goals of the district’s Strategic Plan that called for “Establishing the district as a leader for promoting and establishing a positive direction towards inclusive diversity and creating a school environment where students, staff, and community recognize and appreciate the diverse attributes and identities of each other.”

    I believe the goals of our district’s Equity Plan are some of our most important goals to achieve, together, as we go forward.  

    Together, we must refuse to let anything get in our way as we strive to accomplish these critical goals.  As outlined in the Equity Plan, we must stay committed to:

    “Cultivating a culturally competent and responsive community to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all of our students;”

    “Creating and sustaining an inclusive and safe culture for everyone in our school community;” and

    “Promoting equity and eliminating barriers to learning.” 

    There will be challenges to doing this, it is not easy work, and we all know that it is an on-going process, a journey. But if we work together, prioritize our students and our schools, and refuse to let any barrier stop us, we will continue to be the district where parents want their children to be educated and the reward will be extraordinary when we see our students grow and prosper, becoming stronger individuals and future leaders. 

    There is no greater trust and responsibility that can be given to an individual than to be entrusted with a child’s education. If I am re-elected, I will continue to work tirelessly to uphold that trust and responsibility to provide the best possible educational experience for every student in Okemos Public Schools.

  • CANDIDATE FOR OKEMOS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    BOARD OF EDUCATION

    adam c

    Adam Candeub

     

    Biography

    I moved to Okemos with my wife, Julie Taiber, and son, Jonah, in 2004 when I joined the faculty of the Michigan State University College of Law and where I am currently a professor.  Prior to this position, I worked at the Federal Communications Commission and in private practice in Washington, D.C.  for around ten years.  I have also served on the board of Meridian Township Cable Commission. 

    Since moving to Okemos, we have had two more children, Lucy and Georgia, who are in 7th and 8th grade respectively.  Jonah is in 10th grade.  We are involved parents, dedicating countless hours to class and school activities.

    I grew up in Philadelphia and received my undergraduate degree from Yale University and my law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.  I enjoy running, watching my kids’ sports activities, playing piano, and trying to play squash.   My academic work centers on internet, communications and First Amendment law, and I direct MSU’s IP, Information, and Communications Law Program.  I continue to consult and represent clients on free speech and other internet matters and publish frequently in the popular press.   

    Candidate Statement

    My wife, Julie Taiber, and I have three kids in the Okemos public schools—grades 10, 8, and 7. We have volunteered countless hours for class readings and trips, mileage club, teacher appreciation events, and the butterfly garden at Bennett Woods Elementary. Public education is a central pillar of our lives. 

    I would work on the school board for excellence in education, common sense in administration, and safety in everything.  To maintain Okemos’s reputation for academic excellence, we must welcome innovation and give teachers the freedom to convey enthusiasm and love for their subjects.  Many parents share my frustration at canned-curricula and teachers who are forced to spend more time attending to bureaucratic paperwork than to creating exciting, engaged classrooms. 

    We are experiencing, particularly at the elementary schools, serious overcrowding—a problem that will likely not dissipate given Okemos’s growth.  We must quickly solve this challenge in a sustainable way.  Okemos still is one of the top Michigan high schools in academics, but we will only maintain our excellence if our curriculum and physical resources remain cutting edge. 

    Our students must have even greater access to exciting mathematics, computer, and science courses at all levels.  As more aspects of work require not simply technological competence but coding ability, programming can be incorporated into more aspects of the curriculum.  I also lament the growing omission from the curriculum of knowledge and learning that connects us to our history and builds life skills.  As schoolboard member, I would work to re-introduce cursive writing, which teaches fine hand motor coordination as well as patience; restore our once nationally recognized Latin program; emphasize English grammar at all levels; strengthen offerings in shop, metalworking, horticulture, budgeting, and other life skills courses; and, protect our arts and music program, which are among Okemos’s jewels.

     To achieve education in excellence, we need common sense administration, which in today’s world,  often requires standing up to—or having the patience to work around—bureaucratic mandates that unfairly burden students and teachers and inhibit learning.  Too often, I have seen acceptance of some inane policy simply because it is understood as a state or federal mandate.   

    As a veteran D.C. lawyer, now a law prof at MSU, I have worked with (and in) agencies for my entire practicing career.  Only the rarest regulation has no work around.  I wish to use my expertise to help our schools thrive even when caught in bureaucratic thickets.  

    Above all, we must create an administrative environment in which safety is not a matter of rote rule enforcement.  Rather, safety must be a matter of continued discussion in which we listen to concerns and constantly improve procedures.  The complex threats our students face from violence, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, depression and anxiety, and driving accidents defy simple institutional responses.  As school board member, I would first and foremost be on the parents’ side, always soliciting ideas, concerns, and solutions to the challenges we all face raising 21st century kids.

    Visit me at https://www.facebook.com/Candeub.Okemos.Schools/

  • CANDIDATE FOR OKEMOS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    BOARD OF EDUCATION

    katie c

    Katie Cavanaugh

     

    Biography

    Katie Cavanaugh is an Okemos native and 1994 Okemos High School graduate, the last graduating class of the old high school.  She and her husband, Dr. Bill Truluck, have two children who attend Okemos Public Montessori at Central (the second generation at Central!).  Katie and Bill purposely chose to start their family in Katie’s hometown, a perfect place to raise kids.  

    Katie has a BA in English and Anthropology from Albion College and a MA in American Studies from George Washington University.  For many years, she was Assistant Director of the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame.   She has been in the classroom as a substitute teacher in several districts, including Okemos, and taught courses in cultural diversity and English at Baker College in Jackson.  Katie now is fortunate to be home with her kids while managing her husband’s medical practice. 

    Katie has a longstanding commitment to community service.  She has volunteered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, served as a Board Member of Michigan Capital Council Girl Scouts, was Founder and President of the Dean Hall (Albion College) Alumnae Association, served as a Board Member of the Michigan Women’s Studies Association from 2010 to 2018, and, with her husband, has sponsored several Okemos Education Foundation and OPM at Central events.  Katie is a regular volunteer in her kids’ school as classroom helper, a Meet the Masters presenter, guest presenter on women’s history, and helps with special events including the Grandparent’s Tea, the Flash Dash, and Mileage Club.  She coaches both of her kids’ soccer teams and coached t-ball for several years.  In 2018 Katie founded Secure Our Schools (SOS) to engage and promote discussion among OPS parents about school security and to lobby the Board and the administration for security improvements, including the newly installed buzzer systems.  Katie is serving as the OPM at Central representative to the District Parent Council for the 2018-2019 school year.

    Candidate Statement

    I am thrilled to be a candidate for Okemos Public Schools Board of Education.  Okemos is my hometown, and I have always been proud to be a product of Okemos schools.  My two children are thriving at Okemos Public Montessori at Central and I am grateful that OPS offers unique opportunities for students.  Okemos is already a great district – I’ve watched my nieces and nephew, as well as my own kids, grow and learn in our fantastic schools from preschool through graduation.  I want to serve on the Board of Education to ensure that Okemos continues to provide the best opportunities for our children with an outstanding and diverse faculty in safe and supporting schools.

    Invest In Our Students, Teachers, and Classrooms

    Let’s invest in our teachers and their needs.  Our teachers see our kids more than we do during the week.  They are given more responsibilities every year – social worker, counselor, security officer, nurse – on top of their traditional teacher duties.  They spend their own dollars on their classrooms, dedicate themselves to their students, and are expected to literally risk their lives for our children.  Our teachers deserve respect and appropriate compensation.  They deserve to have the materials and resources necessary to be at their best.  Teachers shouldn’t have to use their own money or ask PTOs to buy basic classroom items.  I also believe that our teachers should have a say in how our district runs and should feel free to bring their opinions to their administration and the Board of Education.  Our children need excellent teachers that are committed to their field and classrooms ready to help our kids succeed.  Investing in and supporting our teachers is an investment in our children.

    Make The Best Choices For Our Students’ Well-Being

    Okemos Public Schools are well known for academic excellence, amazing performing arts, and outstanding athletic programs.  I want our district to be equally well known for our commitment to student well-being.  Safe and healthy schools include access to mental health services for any and all students who may need them.  I want to work towards more investment in counselors and social workers who will work more closely with students.  I want our buildings to be more secure for our kids and our staff.  I want our school cafeterias to be the gold standard of healthy eating.  A safe and healthy school provides the best environment for students to learn and succeed.

    Improved Communication And Increased Transparency

    As a Board Member, I would like to see greater transparency and better, faster communication with parents and community members.  The current board meeting process does not allow for dialogue between Board Members and the public.  When serving on the board, I will welcome discussion with fellow parents and will have a monthly coffee hour to meet and talk with community members.  I will also push for board meetings to be streamed live and to allow communication with board members during public comment sections via email, Twitter, and Facebook. 

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 

    As a mom, I teach my kids to reduce, reuse, recycle.  This philosophy is relevant to our district, as well.  REDUCE unnecessary spending on facilities and put that money instead towards staff and student services.  REUSE existing facilities by expanding current school buildings as a shorter-term solution for the growth in our district.  RECYCLE and reopen closed buildings in the near future if our community continues to grow rather than build new schools. 

  • CANDIDATE FOR OKEMOS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    BOARD OF EDUCATION

    Mary Gebara

    Mary Gebara

     

    Biography

    Mary and her family moved to Okemos in 2010. She and her husband are strong advocates for equality and education. They have made Okemos their home because it provides their children with a wonderful community and endless possibilities. 

    Mary holds a BS from Central Michigan University in Business Administration and Psychology, and a MA from Michigan State University in Child Development. Mary has worked in the healthcare industry as well as investment banking. After moving to Okemos, she changed careers to focus on children, her true passion. While at MSU, she studied autism and inclusion, and curriculum and teachers’ best practices. Mary managed a multi-site research program and mentored many undergraduate students. She worked at MSU’s Child Development Labs in East Lansing and Haslett, conducting assessments, analyzing and interpreting data, and working with teachers and administration. Mary created and implemented optimal standard practices, protocols and procedures within each of her positions. 

    Mary and her husband, Rani, have four daughters, one OHS graduate and 3 more that will surely follow in their sister’s footsteps. Rani is a PM&R physician and specializes in brain injury. Their favorite thing to do with their daughters is to travel and discover new places.

    Candidate Statement

    As a candidate for the Okemos Board of Education, I am running for office because I believe that the children of our community deserve the best possible environment to learn and grow in, while gaining a world class education. The safety and mental health of our children is at the forefront of my agenda. I strongly believe that a child’s educational experience is not just about curriculum, but that in order for them to flourish they must be in the safest, most inclusive atmosphere possible. We have the most capable and caring staff within our district, and they need our support and the proper tools to best serve our children at their maximum capacity. I stand to put our children and the Okemos staff first! 

    My educational background and work experience offer a unique and fresh perspective as a board member. Not only do I have the investment and banking experience to assist with budget management, I also have facility planning and development experience that affords knowledge and insight for what is needed for a growing district. My true passion was realized in graduate school, where I focused on child development. My research and work focused on autism and inclusion, as well as teacher best practices and curriculum. These experiences provide me a well-rounded and multi-faceted approach to a district such as Okemos. 

    If elected, my plan is to work with parents, teachers and our community to ensure that Okemos students receive the exceptional educational experience they deserve. I will work diligently to make certain that there are more mental health experts, social workers and resources within our schools allowing the children and staff to receive the support they need. For too long, the responsibilities have fallen on our teachers and other staff members to not only teach, but to be safety officers, mental health counselors, and fulfill so many other roles outside of their scope. I will also make it a priority for every student to feel included and welcomed by reinforcing the Okemos Equity Plan, encouraging and facilitating more opportunities for acceptance and inclusion for everyone. 

    When students feel safe, accepted and empowered, they succeed. Together we can make that possible for every child in Okemos!

  • CANDIDATE FOR OKEMOS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    BOARD OF EDUCATION

    lyon-callo

    Vincent Lyon-Callo

     

    Biography

    Vin and his family moved to Okemos in 2002 primarily because of the excellent reputation of the local schools. He and his wife, Sarah, have two children. Their son is a senior at Okemos High School and their daughter a freshman.  Sarah is the state epidemiologist for the Michigan Department of Community Health. Vin is a Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Western Michigan University. 

    Vin earned his BS in economics from the University of Connecticut, MS in Labor Studies at the University of Massachusetts and PhD in Anthropology also from Umass.  His academic work in both research and the classroom focuses on poverty, racism, homelessness and other inequalities as well as the subject making impacts of living with exploitation, oppression, and ecological challenges.  His work on homelessness in particular is widely cited.  His primary academic focus lately, though, has been on mentoring and supporting students who care deeply about the world and struggle to find their space within it. He has been a board member of multiple academic associations, has organized numerous interdisciplinary conferences and conference panels, and is incoming co-editor of an interdisciplinary academic journal. Vin spent over a decade working in homeless shelters in Connecticut and Massachusetts and as an activist member of several community based movements aimed at transforming responses to homelessness. He continued that work in Kalamazoo. 

     When his children were younger, Vin enjoyed coaching youth sports and volunteering in their schools (chaperoning field trips, helping in the classroom, assisting with field day, etc.).  Currently, he helps with the choir and drama parent groups.  He was first elected to the Okemos Board of Education to serve out a partial term in 2011 and was re-elected in 2014.  He has served as Secretary, Treasurer, Parliamentarian, and as a member of the policy committee for the board.

    Candidate Statement

    Okemos Public Schools remain one of the top school districts in Michigan.  Students have access to high quality education, excellent music and fine arts programs, and a wealth of athletic and club activities.  There is much that all members of our community can be proud about in our schools.  With these continued points of excellence, we also acknowledge that there are areas that can be strengthened in our schools. I am running for re-election because there are contributions I can continue to make as we as a community work together to face our challenges and provide a supportive and high quality education for all of our students within these challenges. 

     Balancing limited funds with district-wide needs, providing safe and secure learning and working environments, managing our currently growing student population, attracting and maintaining excellent and diverse educators during a time of an exodus from the profession and vastly decreased enrollment in schools of education, hiring and mentoring the next superintendent for the district, continuing and expanding our unfolding work on equity within the district, developing a district wide strategic plan to guide our work for coming years, responding to the growing emotional and mental health challenges facing too many young people in our nation and community, and rethinking and imaging how and what we teach are all critical issues currently for our district.  I have the experience, passion, and knowledge to continue to make contributions in our efforts to address these opportunities to educate together. 

    School safety has certainly been raised as an important issue in the last several years and our community has put many resources into these efforts.  The internal classroom door locking systems put in place with funds from the previous bond were something I supported. I raised the issue of locking or monitoring the front doors during those discussions years ago and so I am glad that we have now moved in that direction.  We also though need to do all we can to make students emotionally secure, safe, and supported in our schools.  All of that could help, but none of those measures unfortunately can prevent all violence.  What I do as a board member is to read widely, listen to everyone, work to bring the community together, and try to then suggest and support the best practices given that information.  That is what I have done in the past and will continue to do if elected.

     Our board, administration, and staff have also made significant efforts to focus on crafting a safe, secure, and supportive environment in recent years.  The equity work that has begun, efforts at working towards wellness at some schools, school assemblies, clubs, focusing on discipline practices, hiring practices, and guest speakers have all been efforts in those areas and I have been a strong proponent of these efforts.   We also must realize that we have much work remaining.  Despite our efforts, racial and class disparities remain.  Of particular concern to me lately has been the wealth of research documenting escalating rates of anxiety, severe depression, suicide, and opioid abuses among teens and young adults today.  We know that Okemos is not isolated from such concerns.  I hope that we can soon work together to learn and work together about both what is producing those problems and what might be done to intervene early on.  A critical first step that I would like us to pursue is to know more about why this is happening.  If we are to intervene effectively, it is imperative that we understand why these changes are occurring.  As a board member, I will continue to advocate for us as a district to take the well-being of our students seriously. 

    Advocating for the well-being of and equity for all students, being open and responsive to community members, and continuing to push for ways we might improve our already excellent schools have been the focus of my terms as a school board member.  I have been a passionately engaged board member who approaches issues with thought and a critical quest for making the best decisions for our community.  If the community chooses to support my candidacy for one more term, that will continue to drive my work over the next four years.

  • CANDIDATE FOR OKEMOS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    BOARD OF EDUCATION

    romain

    Donald Romain

     

    Biography

    Don Romain and his wife Amy are long-time residents of the school district. They have 3 children; their eldest graduated OHS in 2014 and is currently doing her graduate work at the University of Michigan; their middle graduated OHS in 2017 and is in his Sophomore year at Michigan State University, and their youngest is in her Senior year at OHS.

    Don has an undergraduate degree in business and a master's degree in administration, both from Central Michigan University. Don worked in the healthcare industry for many years, serving as CEO of the Sparrow Specialty Hospital and later as CEO of the Spectrum Health Special Care Hospital in Grand Rapids. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer for the Douglas J Companies, a multi-state career school company.  

    With children active in the Arts and sports, Don has enjoyed volunteering and serving in the classroom and on the sidelines. He has spent many rewarding hours in volunteer support of the Okemos arts programs. Don considers community involvement a privilege, honor and civic duty. He has previously served on the Okemos Public School Board. He has also served on the Celebrate Downtown Okemos committee for Meridian Township, the Executive Board of the Sixty-Plus Legal Clinic with Cooley Law School, and as the Endowment Committee Treasurer for Bethlehem Lutheran Church. On a broader community scale, Don has served as a Committee member on the Long Term Care Collaborative of Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties, and as a Workgroup Member on the Governors Long-Term Care Taskforce on Medicaid Financing. Additionally, Don is a past Executive Board Member for the National Association of Long-Term Hospitals. He also enjoys volunteering and participating in local charitable programs in the community, such as JDRF and FAAN. His term of office expires December 31, 2018.

    Candidate Statement

    As long time residents of the Okemos Public School district, my wife and I have had the privilege of partnering with Okemos Schools in the education of our 3 children. We strive to instill the value of volunteerism and public service in our children by example. As a past, and again present member of the Okemos Public School Board, I would be honored to continue serving on the Board, giving back, and adding value to the district. 

    My priorities, if elected, would remain providing community voice and guidance for the ongoing development of an educational environment that values: 1) equity for students, staff and parents; 2) safety; 3) financial transparency and solvency; 4) strong academics and opportunities for students to prepare for the challenges of college and/or career education. I am committed to these priorities, and to maintaining the strength and standing of the Okemos Public Schools.  

  • CANDIDATE FOR OKEMOS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    BOARD OF EDUCATION

    mike k

    Michael Kieliszewski

     

    Biography

    Michael Kieliszewski is a lifelong resident of the Wardcliff neighborhood in Meridian Township and a graduate of Okemos High School. Michael studied Computer Science and Chemical Engineering at Michigan State University. He and his wife, Anna, have two sons who are attending Bennett Woods Elementary School in the Okemos School District.

    Michael has a passion for building community, and has been a volunteer for the Wardcliff Community Garden since it was established in 2010. He currently works as a supervisor and system administrator at Liquid Web, a Lansing-based web hosting company.

    Michael is running for office because he would like the opportunity to represent the Faculty, Staff, and Students of Okemos Public Schools; as well as representing his community.

    The primary issue facing the Okemos School District is increasing enrollment. I would advocate for re-opening existing Okemos Public School facilities before spending millions of taxpayer dollars on building new facilities.

    Candidate Statement

    I pledge to be genuine, honest, transparent, and to represent the Okemos Public School community with integrity.

    As an Okemos High School graduate, lifelong resident within the Okemos School District, and parent of children who attend Okemos Public Schools, I have seen firsthand the challenges and changes that face our school system. I believe these qualities provide me with a unique perspective on how to best serve Okemos Public Schools.

    I am not a politician, and I am not a businessman. I am a regular guy who wants to do right by his community.