By Jason Wesseldyk
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Plainwell Community Schools—like districts throughout the state—held its Board of Education meetings remotely via Zoom.
It was during this time that Ann Filkins had the opportunity to observe several of the meetings.
“The school board had to make very difficult decisions regarding continuity of operations through the pandemic during that time,” Filkins said. “This was an opportunity for me to witness how impactful a school board is for the entire community.
“A strong public education system is critical to the wellbeing of the community. Our future depends on our children receiving a well-rounded, diverse and excellent education. And the school board plays a vital role in ensuring that happens.”
That why, when a spot recently opened up on the PCS board, Filkins decided she wanted to fill it.
“When I applied, I was driven by a desire to support and enhance Plainwell Community Schools,” she said. “I am proud of our school system and want to contribute to its success.”
Filkins was officially appointed to the board at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, Jan. 17. She fills a seat that runs through the election in November.
Filkins joins a board that also includes president Amy Blades, vice president Shannon Zabaldo, treasurer Julli Bennett, secretary Jill Dunham, trustee Anthony McNeel and Mike Hopson.
“This is an intense and exciting time of transition with the push for diversity and inclusion, remote learning opportunities and many other issues that are on the horizon,” Filkins said. “I would like to be a part of this discussion, serve our community, improve student achievement and help drive Plainwell to be a high performing leader in education.”
Filkins has been employed with the Kalamazoo County Court system for more than 20 years. She and her husband Steve have two sons in the district, with one a senior in the high school and the other an eighth grader at the middle school.
The family has resided in the district throughout the lives of the children.
With the ongoing pandemic and other issues facing school districts, Filkins knows she is joined the PCS board at a unique time.
“It is a time of both challenge and opportunity,” she said. “Schools, along with most other industries, are facing many difficult issues because of the pandemic. Mask mandates, COVID numbers and remote learning have required schools to make rapid, and oftentimes difficult, decisions.
“I believe that PCS will be stronger for having to navigate and be flexible in response to these issues.”
As for her vision for Plainwell Community Schools, Filkins said she wants to do her part to fulfill the district’s mission statement of, “Preparing students for success through academic excellence and strength of character.”
“A school board’s most important work is improving student achievement and outcomes,” she said. “A local school board’s role is to make decisions and develop policies and procedures that support this philosophy.”
At this time, Filkins is planning to run for election to the board in November.
“I am honored to serve the Plainwell Community Schools and will work hard to make decisions that are in the best interests of the students in the district,” she said.