School board selects director
Members 'very excited' for local to climb aboard
Steamboat Springs — As she sat in the first row facing the four Steamboat Springs School Board members and the superintendent, Paula Stephenson presented herself with confidence, honesty and a striking personality that convinced board members to vote her as the next director of the school board.
“I thought about it before, but with such strong board members, I didn’t think that I could. But after a little arm twisting ” Stephenson said of running for the position in previous years.
Stephenson is owner of RNE, Results Not Excuses, a human resources management consulting firm in Steamboat Springs.
“We’re very excited about what she’s going to bring to the school board,” School Board President Dan Birch said of Stephenson’s strong management skills. “She understands the basic school issues and we expect that she’ll hit the ground running.”
Vice President Paul Fisher questioned the applicant’s strategic planning experience and expertise. Stephenson answered that the business she runs bases itself on strategy where she designs and redesigns various pieces of management and helps organize development and diversity training.
“I don’t have any specific goals, but I want to be very involved in the school district in order to have an impact on kids getting the best education possible,” Stephenson said.
Birch’s question to Stephenson regarded the time commitment and willingness to sit on the board for four years when the position is up for re-election in November.
The open position on the school board also created an open space for a position on the Board Of Cooperative Educational Services board of educators.
BOCES is a board of representatives from each school district in northwestern Colorado that meets one evening every other month in each district to discuss improving their purchasing power.
While Stephenson has not technically accepted the BOCES representative assignment, Birch said the school board hopes she will welcome that position under her other duties.
While Stephenson may have to miss a few soccer games during the season because of BOCES meetings, she said she wouldn’t mind whatever commitments had to be made for the new position.
“We recognize that people have lives outside of the school board,” Birch said. “We’re pretty understanding of each other’s lives.”
As a loyal member of the Steamboat Spring District Accountability Committee for four years, Stephenson said she is familiar with many of the school board tactics, procedures and other members.
“It’s about managing politics,” Stephenson said of the committee.
The committee is a state-mandated group made up of parents, administrators and teachers who relay information between the community to the school board in order to accomplish school district goals.
“As tedious as the charter school was, I enjoyed the process,” Stephenson said when asked of the greatest moment of being on the committee. “There hasn’t been a downside.”
Fisher said Stephenson’s involvement and knowledge of the school district is what won it for her. Her position on the committee as a non-parent member has helped give insight and perspective into the school-based committee because she has no children.
“She brought a very objective view a third-party view for discussion, yet she has been very involved, very connected and committed,” Fisher said.
“I approach issues with a nonbiased perspective,” she said.
Stephenson’s interest in public schools has remained throughout her childhood and adulthood because of her family’s educational background.
After graduating from the University of Arkansas, practicing law was the only thing that interested her. But after a summer in Steamboat, life’s path turned in a different direction and law school didn’t look as enticing.
After continuing her education at Denver University with a master’s in international studies, Stephenson began focusing on organizational development in Russia and the former Soviet Union.
Although Russian classes didn’t get her far with the language, Stephenson continued to pursue educating businesses managing foreign workers the business needs a well-contrived plan.
“Having a human resources background helps me manage people,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson also was involved with the National School Public Relations Association and the Colorado School Public Relations Association.
“A strong public education system is something for which every community should strive,” Stephenson wrote in a letter of interest to Birch. “I am proud with the role that I have thus far played in helping to ensure that our schools are of a high caliber.”
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