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Columbia School Board: Two Open Seats

Sunday, April 2, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:40 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Steve Calloway has been involved in community groups focused on education within the Columbia Public School District since his children were enrolled in it. Calloway said he knows how the system works and is now running for a spot on the school board.

In 1999, he formed Columbia Parents for Public Schools with other parents in the district. The group focuses on support for public schools with an emphasis on parental involvement.

Although he said he would step down from his role as president of the group if elected, Calloway said he would still watch its progress.

“Parents for Public Schools has a lot of potential to continue as an important voice in the district for parents,” he said.

Calloway is also the co-chair of the district’s Achievement Gap Task Force, which focuses on keeping the district aware of academic achievement gaps in student gender and race and trying to close them. Calloway said he would like to bring more focus to it.

“Hopefully I can bring a little more visibility to that,” he said. “My involvement is about all the kids.”

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Elton Fay has spent more than 30 years in Columbia and has served four terms on the Columbia School Board. Now he is running for his fifth term and looking to continue his community involvement.

In addition to his time spent on the board, Fay has been involved in local church organizations. He has acted as a church youth sponsor at Forum Boulevard Christian Church for more than 20 years and has been on the Show-Me Christian Youth Home Board for 15 years. He is currently the board’s chairman.

Fay is also involved in other groups within the community, including the Parent Teacher Association and the county, state and national bar associations.

Fay said that, if re-elected to the board, he will take an active stance in taking care of problems within the classroom. He said if, in certain instances, parents called him with concerns he would sit in on the classes that raised the concerns so that he could discuss issues with the superintendent using first-hand knowledge.

Fay said it is important to address problems as they arise and said he is not concerned about upsetting people if certain things need to be done.

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Michelle Gadbois said her experience as a teacher within the Columbia Public School District will help her if she is elected to the school board.

Gadbois, who taught social studies at Hickman High School for nine years until leaving in 2005, is running for one of the two vacant spots on the board.

In the classroom, Gadbois tried to incorporate multiculturalism and her love of African-American history into the curriculum.

Gadbois said that, if elected, she would work to close the achievement gaps that exist within the district.

“I think one of the key issues in closing the achievement gap is getting educators to confront their own racism and sexism,” she said. “I think I would encourage programs that currently exist that allow teachers to address race and gender.”

Gadbois said her teaching experience has prepared her to take on more responsibilities as a board member. She has seen how schools function and said she can bring an informed voice to the board.

“I think I bring in an innovative perspective on how to set policy that will enhance our district,” she said.

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Michael Tan has a history in education that spans many years and two continents.

Tan grew up in Malaysia and trained to become a teacher to help his family. After teaching for seven years in Malaysian public elementary schools, Tan completed a year-long program that eventually led to a position as a lecturer at a teacher training college in Malaysia.

Tan came to America in 1985 to pursue his education and now works as an associate professor of education at William Woods University.

As a parent of children in the district, Tan said he has seen how important parental involvement in the schools can be. From this, Tan said he thinks parental involvement is something he would like to see continue to improve.

“I know, generally, parental involvement is very good,” Tan said. “But for certain groups, we have to come up with better ways of getting them involved in the school system.”

With his history in education, Tan said he thinks he would bring a good perspective to the board. “I guess my strength lies in my extensive experience in education itself, having been a parent and a teacher,” he said. “I have knowledge about curriculum and a research-based aspect of what would work in the schools.”


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