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  • Sun Post

    School board directors join national cohort

    By Anja Wuolu,


    Elected school board directors are coming together for an intensive learning fellowship. Two local directors – Helen Bassett from Robbinsdale Area Schools and Brooke Roper from Hopkins Public Schools – will join a cohort of 99 people from around the nation for the one-year program.

    For Bassett, who has been on the board for over two decades, joining this cohort is a chance to learn new things and connect with new resources.

    “What keeps me fresh is refreshing myself,” Bassett said. “... it’s my own desire to improve myself that has been a driver for me my entire life.”

    Roper, on the other hand, is a new board member. For her, the fellowship is a chance to learn about budget, policy writing and other skills.

    “It’s teaching me all of the fundamentals about being on the school board,” Roper said. “... the leadership of School Board Partners are very supportive and helpful with guiding us through the practice of governance.”

    Bassett told the Sun Post she was glad to be included as a baby boomer, who comes with experience and “some old-fashioned ideas.”

    “I’m really excited about being in Cohort 6,” Bassett said. “It’s nice to be around an intergenerational group that includes gen-Xers and millennials and gen-Z ... I’m not on TikTok, I’m not on Instagram and I’m not necessarily looking to be, but I do want to learn.”

    Participants in the cohort meet with mentors, have weekly sessions and learn all about being an elected member of the school board. The fellowship will focus on six broad categories: hiring, anti-racist policy-making, representing the community, developing goals, school performance frameworks, and budget and resource management. This is the sixth fellowship from School Board Partners and the largest one so far.

    The organization reported that Cohort 6 is 80% people of color from 76 different school districts and 28 different states. People in Cohort 6 serve 2.2 million students.

    “Our fellowship equips new school board members with the skills, knowledge, and community they need to become effective school board members. Each fellow receives personalized support, including a mentor and policy coach, to design policies that will have the greatest impact on students,” said Carrie Douglass, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of School Board Partners. “As an elected school board member myself, I’ve seen how kids-first policies can improve student outcomes, paving the way to more equitable and high-quality schools.”

    “We’re thrilled to welcome the latest cohort of fellows into the School Board Partners community,” said Ethan Ashley, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of School Board Partners. “I’ve experienced firsthand the power of school boards to make a difference, both in my own life and during my time as an elected school board member. With this unique support and tools, the fellows are empowered to address the challenges facing our schools, turning their campaign promises into real policy change for students.”

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