February is School Board Appreciation Month

February is School Board Appreciation Month

 School Board Recognized for Service

Theme for 2014-15:  Student Focused Leadership

The Shenandoah County Public Schools joins other school divisions across Virginia in saluting local school boards during the month of February, which is School Board Appreciation Month.    The theme of this year’s celebration, Student Focused Leadership, reflects the top priority of local school board members as they advocate for public education with local, state, and federal leaders

Student Focused Leadership is evident in the practices of our School Board. The Division’s first Belief Statement, approved by the School Board states:  All decisions are based on the best interest of our students.  Additionally, the first goal of the Shenandoah County School Board addresses “Student Opportunity and Achievement.”  “The foundation of school leadership is ensuring equal learning opportunities for all students,” said Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent.      

Shenandoah County’s School Board members are pictured below.

     Karen Whetzel 
Karen S. Whetzel
District 1
Member since January 2010
      Rick Koontz                            
Richard “Rick” L. Koontz
District 2
Member since January 2004
 Kathy Holsinger
Kathryn “Kathy” G. Holsinger, Ph.D
District 3
Member since January 2008


Katie Freakley
Katheryn “Katie” A. Freakley
District 4
Member since January 2014

 Irving "Skeeter"  Getz
Irving L. “Skeeter” Getz
District 5
Member since January 2010

 Sonya Williams-Giersch
Sonya Williams-Giersch
District 6
Member since January 2008


Shenandoah County School Board members, like all 850 school board members across the Commonwealth, must develop policies and make tough decisions on complex educational and social issues impacting the entire community.

Shenandoah County School Board members share responsibility for an annual budget of $57 million dollars, 6189 students, 959 teachers and staff, and 13 buildings (over 1 million square feet).

The Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) reports that school board members statewide make decisions that affect 1.3 million Virginia children and involve more than $3 billion annually. 

According to the VSBA, the job of the school board is “to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, assure schools are accountable to the communiVA School Boards Assoc ty, and strongly advocate continuous improvement in student learning.”  These tasks entail an endless string of meetings and school functions to attend; reams of reports, agendas, proposals, and other information to read and study; and a host of difficult decisions to make.  School board members work hard at seminars and training sessions to keep abreast of the latest ideas in educational leadership, are deeply involved in community activities, and spend many hours in the schools, and at extracurricular events. 


While they wear many hats in the workday world, school board members put on a collective hat when they get down to the business of leading their school districts. Board members must pull together as a team toward a common goal—helping students achieve. While they may individually disagree on certain issues, their role as a board is to consistently strive toward that goal.  Their love of learning, and concern and caring for students, staff, and the community, drive board members’ desire to lead so that students can achieve.

Margaret Mead, world famous anthropologist and intellectual, once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has. “   The Shenandoah County School Board strives to be that small group as they commit-- not to changing the whole world-- but to supporting the learning of every child in Shenandoah County’s public schoolDr. Raley, Superintendents.

"I applaud the Shenandoah County School Board,” said Dr. Jeremy Raley.  “They are to be commended for advocating for the students in our community.  I am thankful for the time that they dedicate to supporting public education in Shenandoah County."

Please join Shenandoah County Public Schools in saying thank you to the dedicated members of the Shenandoah County School Board.