Janet Moran has been involved in the Brainerd School District for 26 years.
The Brainerd School Board member will begin another phase of her life at the end of 2003 -- a life without an official, direct connection with the school district.
Moran, 56, Nisswa, whose four-year board term expires at the end of this year, decided not to seek re-election. Moran has been associated with the school district since 1977 and has served on the school board since 1987. In that time, she has served as the school board chair four times, worked with two superintendents and went through five building bonds and two excess levy referenda.
Moran was named 1992 Outstanding School Board Member by the Minnesota School Boards Association. She also earned the 2000 Silent Warrior Award for her volunteer work with the volleyball team.
But before her years as a school board member in 1987, Moran's passion for children and education was already embedded in her.
Moran attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a bachelor's degree in history. Later she attended the University of Minnesota and earned a master's degree in family social sciences. Moran taught classes through several community education programs in Minneapolis and Twin Cities suburbs.
"I've always had an interest in family development," said Moran. "It is a fascinating field of study."
In 1977, Moran moved to Brainerd and taught family education through Brainerd Community Education. She was active in the construction of the Brainerd Public Library and was the chair of the library board. She also was chair of the annual Children's Art Festival.
Moran said her lifelong educational career with the Brainerd School District began when her first of three children started school.
"I remember I cooked lots of hot dogs at Lowell's (Elementary School) family fun night," said Moran. "I volunteered in the classrooms, went on field trips and I started an informational program for parents of gifted and talented students. I also taught classes for parents with students with special needs and volunteered at Lincoln (Elementary School)."
Moran stayed active in all her children's schools. When former Superintendent Bob Gross took that post in 1981, Moran began her volunteer work throughout the district. She sat on the Citizen's Advisory Committee where she learned more about all students who attend the district, not just her own children and their classmates. Moran also sat on the district's Planning, Evaluating and Research Committee.
After a decade of volunteer work, Moran said, "Once you do something like that, you get accustomed to working with parents and the students. You see what education involvement does for a child and see the evolution of education in the school district. You then want to contribute something positive to public education for all children. Then there were school board seats open and it just happened. I went and paid my $2 filing fee."
Moran said her first term was fascinating. She said board members worked in an orderly fashion, were professional and cared about the students and their education.
Moran visited all the elementary schools for a day and the secondary schools for two days each year. The interaction with students was her main passion in education. She also reads to the students whenever she has a chance.
"I just love being in the classrooms or the hallways and talking with the children," said Moran. "I have never had an experience that was not positive."
Moran said her family members have always been supportive of her school board career because they saw how important it was to her. She said they would adjust schedules and make sure they always ate dinner together.
"We ate a lot of pizza," Moran said with a laugh.
Moran said she found a way to balance her schoolwork and family.
"By nature I am an active person and have always been a lifelong learner," she said. "I never had any question on how to direct my energy and to focus on my children. My children grew up with an educational atmosphere and it was important for us to eat together with no phone or TV."
Moran had the opportunity to hand her three children their high school diplomas and that meant a lot to her.
"Parents send us their most precious gift they have and we have to unwrap layer after layer to find the gifts that kids have to give to us," said Moran. "Once we find out how we can reach them (the students) they are ready to learn for the rest of their lives."
Moran said her experience hasn't always been easy. She said the most difficult time was when former school board member Jon Haapajoki died in 1999. She was vice chair then and was appointed to serve as chair. Another trying time came when Gross retired as superintendent and the school board worked to replace him.
Moran said she never hesitated about filing for a school board term until this year. She said she would never file for school board unless she really wanted to. Moran said it was a good time to retire.
"I always believed that if you are ambivalent about running (for school board) then don't do it," said Moran. "This job is too important. There are people who are truly interested."
Once January rolls around and Moran's retirement from the school board is official, Moran said she will stay away from the school district for a while for her own peace of mind. However, she'll stay involved with the construction of Forestview Middle School. She plans to volunteer her time to be a tour guide for the public until the school is complete.
Moran said there are many unknowns about her future, but she has many plans, including an addition to her family, a 3-year-old Tennessee walking horse named Jackson. She is learning how to ride sidesaddle.
She also is interested in oil painting, photography, gardening and poetry. One of her favorite poems is "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. The poem's ending reads, "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."
Moran said she can relate to this poem now because she also has promises to keep before she sleeps. She just does not know what all her promises are yet.
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