By Josh Thall
The Lansing Star
Editors note: This November, voters in Lansing will elect three School Board members from a ballot of seven candidates; including two members who are looking to be reelected. Among the main issues in this election are enrollment, school district perception and student achievement.
Incumbents Shirley M. Rodgers and Guillermo Z. Lopez are seeking reelection while the third member whose term is up, Charles Ford, will not be running for another term.
The challengers are: Bryan Beverly, S. Joy Gleason, Thomas Patrick Morgan, Julee Rodocker and Randy Watkins.
Each school board member that gets elected will serve a six year term.
Lansing School Board candidate Bryan Beverly poses for a picture in Erickson hall at Michigan State. Photo Credit Josh Thall.
Lansing – Bryan Beverly was born and raised in Lansing and attended school in the Lansing School District his whole life, culminated by his graduation from Lansing Sexton high school in 1996.
“My classmates and I were afforded fantastic educational opportunities,” Beverly said. “The diverse student body, of both my high school and the district as a whole were a benefit, because when you go to a larger college campus, or the community at large, that is what the world looks like.”
Beverly, 35, lives on Ridgefield Road and is a doctoral student at Michigan State University, in the field of educational policy, and is currently a professor at Olivet College.
Beverly teaches a class at Olivet called self and community, which he said is all about getting first year students out of their bubble, and expand their outreach.
Beverly said that the reasons for his candidacy included his strong connections within the district, having a 4-year-old daughter now enrolled in pre-k at Cumberland and studying educational policy at MSU.
Beverly said that his area of expertise, experience with the school district and the fact that he is a product of the Lansing School District are among the top reasons that he is a better candidate than some of the people running against him.
“Being a doctoral student, studying educational policy here at MSU, has kind of expanded my knowledge of educational policies, and school improvement issues,” Beverly said.
“He’s local, and he’s a product of the system, he continues to live in the district which is very important,” said Daniel Schultz the senior programming and policy advisor in the K-12 program in the College of Education at Michigan State University and someone who has known Beverly for a few years.
Schultz said Beverly has an understanding of what policy issues are impacting the school district as well as schools all over Michigan.
Beverly said that having gone through the Lansing School District allows him to have a different perspective that he could bring to the board.
“He, I think, has a very strong background in this whole area of education reform,” Schultz said. “Whether that’s at the classroom level, the building level or the district level. These are complicated systems, and increasingly it is not just a challenge of the student and the teacher, but these are systemic issues that are sometimes failing kids.”
Brian Boggs, an outreach specialist in the K-12 program and a professor at UM-Flint who works closely with Beverly, said Beverly possesses all of the characteristics a School Board member needs, including understanding policy and the political environment.
Beverly has also served on the Fellowship of Instructional Leaders which is a program in the K-12 department of the School of Education at Michigan State University, Barbara Markle, who is the assistant dean for K-12 outreach in the College of Education said.
Markle said that as a member of the program, Beverly is a member of a team that goes to school districts that are struggling and helps them find ways to improve.
The four main goals that Beverly hopes to help accomplish if elected include student achievement, fixing declining enrollment and negative perception of the district, community collaboration and maintaining fiscal responsibility.
One way in which Beverly feels that the perception of the school district could be improved is by telling success stories to show there can be and have been great individuals to graduate from Lansing schools.
“Telling the success stories of alumni, not just the Magic Johnsons of the world, but also doctors, lawyers, state department workers and business owners,” Beverly said. “We need to tell those stories.”
This story has been updated with new information.