Election 101 Voters Guide: School Board: Jack Pichotta
Q What is the most critical issue facing the school district? How do you plan to take it on?
A The most critical issue is the decline of state and citizen support for public education. I’m sorry to say that there isn’t much that we can quickly do to change that condition, however, we can understand that reality, and influence decisions that both reduce costs and increase opportunities for our students.
I believe that our board has already done the single most important task for a board of education, and that is to hire a superintendent with the skills, knowledge, and desire to lead our district through good and not so good times. We did that, and we’ve influenced hiring outcomes which have strengthened the district’s leadership team. Thanks primarily to the leadership team, our district is in better shape than most to manage the coming lean years.
Q What kind of accomplishments in office or in private life make you qualified for this position?
A I’m commonly recognized as the founder of Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. In 1971 I wrote the program component of the three-year grant which enabled start up at Isabella and then, for more than 20 years, I was responsible for everything.
The most important of those “everythings” was to develop a strong environmental education curriculum in order to prove and demonstrate the validity of environmental education and then to lead the effort to build a permanent home near Finland. In 1980 the ELC became the first facility of its type in the nation to be accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, a step which moved the program from the category of “camp” to school. I also led the 15-year effort to raise a bit more than $10,000,000, however, without everything involved in securing accreditation it’s doubtful that the program would have been strong enough to even consider building a new school.
Q Who was your favorite teacher and why? How would you install those qualities in the education students are getting today in Two Harbors and Silver Bay?
A I graduated from Denfeld High School 56 years ago. My favorite subject was art and the teacher I most remember was Gene- vive Eby, my art teacher. She encouraged me, and helped me to develop the few skills I brought to the class. Actually, she did that for all of the students who wanted to learn.
Success in school results when respected teachers team up with motivated students. Student motivation is more likely when parents value and encourage learning.