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Spotlight on a Board Member Renee Ehmke

Renee EhmkeIf you ask Renee Ehmke, 40, what she has learned since joining the FISD Board of Trustees last year– one thing that quickly jumps to her mind is that, “Dr. Reedy doesn’t sleep.” Based on the times and days he e-mails or the depth of thinking that has gone into an issue being addressed, she feels like he must work 24/7.

In this rapidly growing school district, there truly is no rest. But the best part of that is knowing that the Board and Administration care about each individual student and that they want do the right thing for all children, Ehmke says.

Ehmke grew up in Wichita, Kansas, played volleyball at Friends University, and became a junior high and high school teacher and coach. She married Chad Ehmke in 1988 and they relocated to Texas in 1996 when his employer, Pizza Hut, moved their headquarters to Dallas.

Because two of their four children were still at home, Renee decided to stay with them when they moved to Texas. It was a big decision to not teach and Renee knew she needed to stay busy because she missed the classroom so much.

“My kids were at Curtsinger, so I decided to start volunteering in the library . . . and you see what that gets you,” she said, jokingly referring to her current service on the FISD Board. One of the areas in which the PTA needed volunteer help was running the Book Fair.

Although PTA Board was not in her plans, the Book Fair chair role was a Board position, so she went for it. She has continued this chairmanship for many years, and Curtsinger’s book fair is known for its creativity and success – so much so that Scholastic leadership brought Polar Express author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg to visit Curtsinger students and staff this year. She now works with the Wester Middle School book fair, as well, calling that few weeks each year, “book fair season.”

But this level of volunteerism was obviously just a start for Renee. When attending a candidate forum one night, she said she felt led at that time to consider running for the School Board. She decided then that if it was the right thing to do, the pieces would fall into place. With prayerful consideration and the opening of a Board seat, she decided to run. Shortly into the campaign, she realized that she and now friend Brenda Polk were meant to run against each other. A third candidate filed, but was unable to truly run due to a family illness. That third opponent began the formation of a bond between Polk and Ehmke, however, and through learning more about her, Ehmke knew that the children of FISD would be served well no matter which one of them won.

Due to a reporting glitch the night of the election, at one point it appeared that Ehmke had lost. She felt her words to her daughter when running for Student Council were about to come back to her, “Sometimes our lesson might be in the losing – if you can be okay with that, then run.”

She did win, though, and has been “running” non-stop since to learn the ins and outs of Board service. It is hard work and great fun and she says at the end of the day, the Board members may have different perspectives and background on an issue, but they are still on the same page.

Renee encourages all parents to be involved, stating that it is important to their own student and for the entire school. “Our schools cannot run without our parent volunteers,” she said. And that includes the ultimate volunteers, our School Board members.