Panorama School Board

As we celebrate those elected to serve school districts during School Board Appreciation Month, one local board member uses her experience on the other side of the Board table to help make informed decisions that impact her community.

Deborah Westergaard is in her second four-year term serving on the Panorama School Board, and she is serving her first year as its president. Professionally, Westergaard is an educator for the Johnston School District, so she believes that gives a great perspective for the Board to use, while other members may have greater expertise in other areas that affect education such as finance. Westergaard says she likes to keep “the big picture” in mind when serving the District, “Lots of people and community members, I think I’ve learned they don’t really understand the role of being a board member sometimes. I think outside community members think that board members can completely control the school district in its entirety and that’s not really our role. Our role is there as a voice to represent the community members and of course my main priority is to make sure we’re always keeping education and students first, at the forefront at the board table discussions.”

Westergaard says serving on the School Board has felt somewhat like a trial-by-fire during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she’s grateful for the frequent communication she keeps with Superintendent Shawn Holloway. She says there’s no textbook or guide to follow necessarily in a time like this, so it’s up to the Board and administrators to learn and work together as a team to make their way through it.