Fri, Oct. 18

Becky O’Banion steps down from school board, but not from Verde Valley education

For the first time since 2008, Becky O’Banion is not a part of the Clarkdale-Jerome School Board. VVN/Bill Helm

For the first time since 2008, Becky O’Banion is not a part of the Clarkdale-Jerome School Board. VVN/Bill Helm

CLARKDALE – As of 5:59 p.m. Tuesday, Becky O’Banion is no longer on the Clarkdale-Jerome School Board.

But O’Banion, who resigned from the district’s governing board because she relocated recently to Verde Santa Fe, said that the past 10 years taught her many things.

“Education is too important and too rewarding to walk away from,” O’Banion said Wednesday.

For now, O’Banion plans to help Clarkdale-Jerome Superintendent Danny Brown with special projects such as grants, committees, website development and research.

“I hope to remain involved in Verde Valley education whether as a board member or part of a team,” she said. “[Maybe I will] go sit in a classroom or a student art show or science fair or a basketball game. Or see student academic growth and honors. It’s just so rewarding to be part of all this.”

Though Brown is in his second year as the district’s leader, he said Wednesday that O’Banion has been a “consistent presence in our district” since she joined the board in 2008.

“Her focus has always been on the students of our district,” Brown said. “She has been a tremendous supporter of the teachers, staff and administration. Her passion for Clarkdale-Jerome School is goes without saying.”

As O’Banion looks back on the past 10 years at Clarkdale-Jerome, she said that “special memories evolved with solving tough challenges, like a change in long-time leadership.”

“The operation of Clarkdale-Jerome was sound, and administrative change brought inevitable concerns and discomfort,” she said. “It has proven to strengthen and enrich Clarkdale-Jerome all around.”

Becky O’Banion on education

Verde Valley Newspapers: Why did you first become involved with local politics?

Becky O’Banion: I originally ran [for the Sedona-Oak Creek School Board] to help address the needs of the middle 80 percent of students. It seemed that the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent commanded more services and therefore dollars. I have four kids, two are Mingus grads prior to Sedona’s having its own district, and two who went through the Sedona system. I recognized how differently my own children learned and functioned in school. I owned a business for 26 years and know schools can’t just be managed with the business paradigm.

VVN: Why did you decide to be a part of the Clarkdale-Jerome School Board?

O’Banion: I was appointed to one of the seats formed by the voters changing the district from a three-member to a five-member board. Jill Zaske was the other appointee. I moved to Clarkdale in 2004 from Sedona.

VVN: Why have you spent 20 years on Verde Valley school boards?

O’Banion: I loved being part of the balancing act in education of creating engaging, successful programs with the resources available. We each see a different part of the elephant, and together we strive to build the perfect beast. I personally love to learn and find there is always more to learn and understand in our current educational and social climate.

VVN: What do you take away from your experiences as a school board member?

O’Banion: My grandest take away from the Clarkdale-Jerome board is that a school is not a project, but a process of continuous analysis and improvement. I found an amazing group of examiners, problem-solvers, cheerleaders and stewards in my fellow board members. And even more, I found a team in the dedicated, talented, positive teachers, administrators and support staff.

VVN: Any board accomplishments you are especially proud of?

O’Banion: I’m proud of how clear Clarkdale-Jerome’s position is in the consolidation discussions. Our communities’ vision, staff performance and job satisfaction, fiscal stability, and student academic performance continue as positive indicators that we’re doing the right thing. Again, Clarkdale-Jerome knows it’s about ongoing monitoring and adjusting every day for every student’s success. I so appreciate my fellow board members and administrative team for their collegiality and focus.”

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