Stacey Danstrom is the newest member of the Salem City School Board, having been appointed by the Salem City Council late last year. Her first School Board meeting as a member was on Jan. 11.
Originally from the Houston, Texas area, she attended Texas A&M University in the 1980s.
She moved to Salem from Chicago in 1993. She came to the area because of her work with the railroad, first with Southern Pacific, then Norfolk Southern. Her work for the railroads focused on marketing and sales.
In April of 2000, she left her railroad job to stay home with her children.
She grew up in the public school system. “It was a natural for us that our kids would go to a public school,” she explained. Her children are 25, 24 and 21, all of which attended the public schools in Salem.
Due to the fact that she stayed home, she was able to be involved in various community activities while her children were in school.
Danstrom said that she started thinking about pursuing a School Board appointment once she became an empty nester. Having been involved in the schools before, she thought about how she could give back and serving on the School Board presented itself. A parent at a volleyball game suggested the idea.
At first, she was reluctant to pursue the idea because her husband is close to retirement age and she wasn’t sure about adding on another commitment.
“I thought: ‘You know what, why not?’ We’re people who have tried to give back to the community where we could, so I threw my name in the hat,” she explained.
Throughout the interview and appointment process, she said she was impressed by the other candidates. “This is good for Salem because there seemed to be quite a few candidates,” she said.
Since joining the board, she has toured the various schools in the division. “It was wonderful to see a lot of teachers and neighbors. I recognized a lot of faces at the schools, which was a nice thing,” she said.
Danstrom said she has been absorbing an “overwhelming amount of information.” She said the process has instilled in her a greater appreciation for the other members on the board and those who served before her.
“The acronyms alone…I feel like I need an acronym dictionary. There are so many programs and so many grants. It’s overwhelming the amount of information,” she noted.
Additionally, she said she has been “overwhelmed” by the support she has received by other board members and Superintendent Curtis Hicks.
For the time being, she said she’s trying to learn as much as she can about how the division and board function.
One of the areas she’d like to focus on while on the board is literacy. She was 28 years old when she realized that her grandmother couldn’t read or write. “She could write her name. She knew her address. She couldn’t read a book,” Danstrom said. “That’s near and dear to me.”
She’s also interested in the mental health aspect of the school division. “You aren’t just pressured by the academic part. The social part also can be very stressful,” she said she observed by having children go through the education system.
Danstrom said that although Salem is a closeknit community, she hopes it will continue to be open enough to benefit from new perspectives and ideas going forward.
“We want the educators to be able to come to the board and speak freely. We want to always keep the lines of communication open,” she said. “I hope that this position will allow me to give back to the community that has served our family and our children so well.”
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