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Spotlight on a Board Member. Meet Brenda Polk.

Brenda PolkWhen Brenda Polk, 44, joined the school Board in May, it was the culmination of a commitment to service that she made several years ago when her twin daughters were infants.

She vividly remembers pushing them in the stroller and telling her husband she was going to be involved in their education and she was even going to be a PTA president.

“Most people usually don’t make that type of statement and mean it,” she jokes.

The Iowa native is one of 8 siblings so she learned early to go after what she wants, even if it seems outside the norm. For instance the graduate of St. Ambrose University (with a double major in mass communications and political science) decided to go to mortuary school at the age of 26, where she met her husband, Jeff. Polk says she has learned things from every job she has had and has honed skills that one uses in all areas of life.

“As a funeral director you are helping people during one of the hardest times in their lives,” she said. “It is important to be nurturing and well organized to help ease their burden.” Because of the emotions involved, you also have to have a lighter side and a good sense of humor.

Growing up in a large household also developed another side of Polk – the need to lead.

“When I’m involved in something I tend to want to be out front,” she said. She was sophomore and junior class president in college and was president of the Jaycees in her community. This trait is something she and her other siblings share; after some reflection, they have decided they got it from watching their oldest sister, who they recently lost.

“We all watched her growing up and she was very driven,” Polk said. “Consequently, we all think we are the chief.”

Another aspect of her life that has helped mold her perspective is that she and Jeff have moved several times before settling in Frisco ISD in 1999. They moved from Kansas City to Oklahoma so Jeff could attend air traffic controller school; they moved to Houston in 1990. Morgan and Katelyn were born in 1992 and they moved backed to KC in 1994. Jeff got an opportunity to transfer to the Dallas/ Fort Worth airport in 1999.

Polk’s best friend from college lived in Plano, so they started looking for homes in this area. As she researched the school districts, she liked the concept of smaller high schools (she had graduated with 950 students) that she found in FISD. The girls were entering first grade and Anderson Elementary was opening as a new school. She told Principal LaDonna Polston, who she credits a great deal with her growth as a volunteer, that she wanted to get involved and Mrs. Polston put her in contact with Cindy DePaolantonio, who is now a fellow Board member.

“She had an historian position open on the PTA Board, so I took it,” Polk said. The rest, as they say, is history.

She became the vice president of programs the next year and became President for the two years after that. They moved to the west area of Frisco for one year and the girls attended Boals Elementary in 5 th grade. But, they missed their friends, so they moved back to the Clark Middle School zone for sixth grade and Polk was president of the PTO last year and will be for this year, as well. She also served on the 2003 Citizen’s Bond Committee as she worked to be involved and learn more about the district.

Polk says that PTA is a wonderful way for people to get plugged in and that it helps one to see the big picture of how things work.

“You learn to be a team player and learn that everyone’s opinion is important,” she said. “You also learn to step outside your role as a parent to consider what is good for the entire school and not just your own child.”

Through all of her experiences, Polk knew that the school district was where she was meant to serve. In 2004, she ran for the school board against Renee Ehmke. Through the process they became friends, which allowed them to realize that no matter who won the race, the children of the district would be well served. As the early results came in, it appeared that Polk had won. There was a glitch in the reporting, however, and Ehmke was the winner.

“I had to learn grace and patience through that experience and that things happen as they are meant to and in the right time,” Polk said.

She ran again this year for the place vacated by Jimmy Gaffney and won.

“This is a great School Board and the members are very supportive of each other,” she said. “I’m excited about what the next three years will bring and am looking forward to working together as a team to move the district forward.”