Tracey Katzberg feels like she’s finally hit her stride and hopes to be able to serve a second term on the Hastings Board of Education.
“I feel like I’m just now getting to where I’ve listened enough to feel like I have a good enough opinion. I’m good enough,” she said. “So why not give it four more years to continue?”
Katzberg is one of five candidates running for four open spots on the Hastings Board of Education in the upcoming general election.
Her name will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot alongside those of fellow incumbents Becky Sullivan, John Bonham and Brady Rhodes and challenger Paige Bruntz.
“I’ve listened more probably than I’ve spoke, which can sometimes be unlike me,” Katzberg said. “I’ve learned a lot about how the whole school system works.”
Katzberg grew up in Giltner and has lived in Hastings since graduating in a class of 12 from Giltner High School in 1994.
Her children attended Morton Elementary until the closing of that school in 2016. Most students who attended Morton then moved to attend classes at the newly expanded Watson Elementary.
Katzberg was active in the Morton Parent Teacher Organization and served as president. It was during that time she decided to run for school board the first time.
“I was in the school a lot and caught wind they needed more people,” she said.
In her first four years, Katzberg said, she did a lot of learning.
Coming from a small school, she said, she has benefited from being a part of the Elementary Facilities Improvement Project, which has given her a greater chance to explore each of the elementary buildings and gain an even greater appreciation for the district.
“I’ve got to go into the schools and see some of the history with them and how the buildings look and how they’ve incorporated some of the old with the new,” Katzberg said.
She said the elementary facilities project also has given her a chance to hear more from some of the administrative team who might not otherwise have presentations at the school board meetings.
Another way Katzberg has gotten into the different buildings in the district is through visits to the different Professional Learning Community team meetings.
When she first started visiting PLC meetings on Wednesday afternoons, Katzberg said, she felt intimidated by all the acronyms, terminology and work the staff was doing — so much so that she never spoke.
“I would say the first two years I never wanted to ask any questions and I felt like I was a nuisance in the room,” she said. “I didn’t feel qualified to even be in the room with all these people collaborating and sharing ideas.”
Now, Katzberg said, she has been on enough visits that she feels like she can openly ask questions and be a part of the conversations with the staff.
On a recent visit to Lincoln Elementary, Katzberg was able to sit in on a discussion among the staff with how to you work to bring up a student who is struggling in class while also building up the student who understands and is excelling with the current classwork.
“So you’re talking about fifth grade and second grade and kindergarten, and a lot of it is the same,” she said. “They all have the same idea and are working toward the same mission and goal.”
She said the collaboration among teachers, staff, administrators and even the school board not only excites her but also gives her continued hope for the future of the district.
“I think for me personally, I’ve never been a teacher, so it’s hard to look at it from a different perspective. It’s, ‘What do I like?’ but also, ‘What does the staff think?’, and I try to balance all of that,” she said. “Obviously, it’s all the students come first.”
One thing Katzberg said she might bring to the table is her own understanding and her own childhood.
“I was probably not an easy student myself, but I wasn’t going to school with the easiest upbringing, too, so I felt I had something a similar component to some of our students at school, so I felt I had something to offer,” she said.
Katzberg said she might be the least educated in terms of higher education among her colleagues on the school board, but she believes her perspective also gives her something to share on the board.
“I felt like I brought something different to the table from where I came from,” she said. “You can always make something that wasn’t the most positive into a real positive. That was a good reason for me to give the time.”