The June 2 municipal election for the Prairie Home R-5 School District Board of Education has four candidates seeking three available seats, all for three-year terms.
Incumbents Tammy Brandes and Marsha Stewart are seeking re-election, while Sheila Brown and Nathan Alpers are newcomers on the ballot for next Tuesday's election.
The election was originally scheduled for April 7, but Gov. Mike Parson postponed all municipal elections to June 2 in light of concerns surrounding COVID-19.
The Democrat asked the candidates to answer the following questions.
Editor's note: All candidates were given the opportunity to respond and submit a photo. The Democrat did not receive responses from Sheila Brown.
Name: Tammy Brandes (incumbent)
Years living in district: I have lived in the district for 19 years.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Occupation: RN and Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist.
Family: Husband, Bobby, and three sons: Layne, Cooper and Weston.
Leadership experience: I served three years as PTO president, served as vice president of the Summer Baseball program, currently serve as the president of the Recreational Basketball program, currently serve as the Vice President of the Heart of Missouri Clinical Documentation Specialist Chapter, and currently serve as a committee/planning member of the Show Me State Annual ACDIS Conference.
Why are you running for school board?: I like to be involved in the community, in my childrens' education, and I like to think that I can bring yet another perspective to an arena that is ever changing and evolving daily.
Why is public education important?: Public education is a essential component of our community. Just as our mission statement says, it is our mission to develop lifelong learners who value themselves, contribute positively to their community, and succeed in an ever-changing world.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district?: I bring the ability to critically think through issues as well as pay special and close attention to detail. I am involved in multiple aspects of our community and I don't mind being an involved patron.
What issues are most important to you?: As a small rural school, technology and everything that encompasses is of importance to me. When our students leave our school to pursue further education or enter the workforce, they will be competing with peers whom may not have encountered technology barriers. I feel that it is my responsibility as a board member to make sure that our students are equipped with everything they need in order to be professionally competitive in a technology-driven world.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls?: One of the luxuries of the Prairie Home School District and community is that we are small. As I have said, I am very involved in the school and the community. Therefore, I can confidently say most voters already know me.
Name: Marsha Stewart (incumbent)
Years living in district: I have lived in the Prairie Home School District for 20 years.
Education: B.A. in English, Central Methodist University, with minors in Spanish, P.E. and Education.
Occupation: Homemaker, with multiple part-time positions that include: Jamestown AgriCenter, housekeeping for Prairie Home United Methodist Church and livestock caretaking.
Family: I've been married 25 years to my husband, Seth, and we have three sons: Matt, 19, Luke, 17, and Tim, 15.
Leadership experience: I have served for six years as president of the Prairie Home Board of Education, and four years as VP of the Board. I was also the chairperson/sponsor of various committees/organizations when I taught English and Spanish in the Hermitage and Vienna School Districts.
Why are you running for school board?: I am running for this school board position because I believe in our students, school, and community, and I hope to make a difference in the way we, as a district, educate and invest in the formative years of our youth. I wish great success, in whatever form that may take, for each and every child who enters our doors.
Why is public education important?: Public education is important because it provides a firm base of general knowledge, critical thinking, and the capability to receive information and put it to real-life use. It is the foundation that allows all students the opportunity to move forward in society.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district?: I believe I can offer my years of experience on the Board, and my insight into actual classroom instruction and environment from my years teaching full-time in public schools. I am comfortable in a school setting and understand the responsibilities that must be met, both at an administrative level and in the classroom.
What issues are most important to you?: The biggest and newest issue for public education is how to educate and meet the needs of our students and their families amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Each district is dealing with the same pandemic, but must individualize a solution to accommodate its student population. That is the current challenge; no two districts are the same, and it is up to us, as administration, to find the best way to provide an educational climate that allows each child to be successful. In addition to COVID-19 challenges, funding for small schools is also a concern. Without a doubt, these are challenging times for public education.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls?: I am a board member, a parent, and have been a middle school/high school teacher. I was a stay-at-home mom until my youngest son went to kindergarten, and was an aid at a preschool for autistic five-year-old twins. In one way or another, I have always been involved in education. I try to be dependable and consistent in all that I do, and practice great intentionality using reason and hard work to accomplish any task at hand. Confidentiality is a must when in a leadership position; I respect and practice such. I enjoy being part of the school, and it's the kids, teachers, and staff that make all of the time and effort so worthwhile. I have no agenda and no axe to grind, I just like to make a difference!
Name: Nathan Alpers
Years living in district: Alpers has spent his whole life in the district — he went to and graduated from Prairie Home before entering the work force.
Occupation: Alpers runs his family farm, managing three full-time employees.
Family: wife, Meagan, and three children — Paige, 7; Ethan, 5; and Kaylee, 3. Alpers' father served for a few years on the school board, and he said following in his footsteps is one reason he wanted to run.
Leadership experience: Alpers currently runs his family farm, has served on the US Meat Export Federation National Board, and remains active with the Prairie Home Lions Club and the Cooper County Farm Bureau Board. He also previously served on the Cooper County Cattlemen's Association Board.
Why are you running for school board?: Alpers said he doesn't have a specific agenda — he wants to make sure the district best serves his children and other students.
"I'm just running because I want to make sure my kids and the others in the school get the education they need," Alpers said.
Why is public education important?: Alpers said getting an education is important for children to move forward in life. They need to be prepared to enter the workforce or go get a degree after graduation.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district?: Since Alpers currently serves on other boards in a leadership role, he's had to be able to wear many hats to work in the best interest of the group.
"For (the) school, not just for my kids, I can honestly take my hat off and put the school hat on and vote in the best interest of the school," Alpers said.
What issues are most important to you?: Though Alpers said a hot button topic in the school district has been its athletic co-op with Bunceton, he said he wants to make it clear he's not running because of any particular issue or topic.
"I just want to do what's best for the school and its students. I do truly believe Prairie Home's got a strong teaching staff and administration, so I'd like to keep that going strong," Alpers said.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls?: "I'd appreciate all votes and would like voters to know they have my trust that I will do what's best for students and the school and to keep Prairie Home moving forward," Alpers said.