We can always find ways to do better. From the time I made the decision to go back to college and finish my degree to my years teaching in elementary school to serving on the school board, I have tried my best to live by this rule. It takes a willingness to learn and grow, but the sentiment is something I’ve personally found to be true. We can always find ways to do better.
I was born and raised in Pocatello and attended school at Lewis & Clark Elementary School and Alameda Junior High. I am a proud Class of 1968 graduate of Pocatello High School. After high school, I went on to attend Ricks College and, later, Idaho State University. My husband, Glen, and I have been married for more than 51 years and were blessed with five children. We also share 13 grandchildren, one great-grandson and a brand-new great-granddaughter.
Once my youngest daughter entered the first grade in 1987, I decided to go back to college and finish my degree in elementary education. I was 37 years old and determined to complete the program in three years. I had five children at home and was volunteering as PTA president at Ellis Elementary School and children’s primary president in my ward church calling, but I did it.
Ultimately, I earned a K-8 reading endorsement and master’s equivalent in elementary education. I went on to teach in the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District for 18 years. I taught sixth, third and fourth grades at Bonneville and Indian Hills elementary schools. I found something unique to love about each grade from organizing and refereeing sixth-grade intramural basketball games to panning for gold with fourth graders in Idaho History class.
Education is my passion. I still enjoy teaching and am blessed to have the opportunity to continue to teach children and adults through my church.
After retirement, I decided to run for the school board. I originally became interested in serving on the Board of Trustees for two reasons. First, I thought it was important to add the perspective of a teacher to the decision-making process, and second, I believe in public education.
My first opportunity to serve as a trustee came as an appointment to the board upon the resignation of another board member. The resignation came early in the first year, so I served nearly the entire four-year term. In 2013, I declared my candidacy again for Zone 1; however, the race was uncontested, and I was automatically reseated to serve a consecutive four-year term. I was again reelected in 2017 after earning nearly 67 percent of the vote. I am currently in my 12th year serving on the Board of Trustees.
Although local school board elections have historically been lacking in competition with low voter turnout, that doesn’t make the job any less challenging or important. Trustees are elected to serve with no compensation or benefits package. I am more than happy to serve in this capacity because it allows me to continue my lifelong service as both a volunteer and an educator.
My passion for public education has continued to grow during my time on this board. I have also grown in my understanding of what it really takes to operate a school district.
From reading emails and reviewing policies to attending legislative meetings and understanding Idaho education laws, governing our local public education system is not just about teachers and teaching. As a trustee, we have a role and a responsibility to make decisions based on what is best for ALL. This work entails reading, listening, engaging and actively learning to fully understand not only the day-to-day but also the year-to-year operations.
As educators, we work with kids to help them learn. We also work with kids to become better citizens of the world. Board members spend a considerable amount of time each month visiting schools. I swell with pride when we visit schools to learn hands-on about programs like debate, drama, graphics, arts, drum corps, broadcasting, EMT and welding, among others. One our most important tasks is helping kids discover their gifts and their passions — that moment you see the light come on in their eyes when they discover something new.
As a board, we don’t always agree on every issue, but we work together in the spirit of the district’s mission to Be More Together. We work hard to realize our shared vision to improve the district. I am proud of many accomplishments, most notably improving graduation rates. Last year alone, New Horizon High School celebrated 100 graduates!
Our current board shares a vision to complete a future career technical education school, when the time is right. By offering a CTE school, we can still prepare kids who may not be college-bound to be career-ready. We share this vision because there is tremendous growth potential in this arena. I’d like to see us establish a community group to help us assess the current needs while working cooperatively with Idaho State University and the community for positive impact.
One day, I was visiting a kindergarten classroom and a large, colorful sign that read, “We can do HARD things,” caught my eye. That statement has never been truer than over the past year. Despite some of the hard issues the district faces, I am proud of the board’s many recent accomplishments. Those accomplishments include the construction, remodel and completion of New Horizon Center, Iron Horse Stadium and Pocatello High School; adopting a swim team; the early payoff of Century High School through the bonding process; Festival of Trees and its contributions to improving instructional technology; and the drawing of new boundaries to prioritize equity and help all schools thrive.
Some of these decisions have been met with controversy. All of these decisions have been made in the best interest of the district’s learners and our community.
Living through these divisive times, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of believing that one way is the only way. But no issue is one-sided. We don’t know it all, but we do know it’s important not to force our will. We must be objective and approach issues with an open mind. I do my best to listen graciously and help people understand the issues while trying to find common ground and compromise. We can disagree, but it’s important to do it in a way that shows others dignity, respect and compassion.
Jackie Cranor is a native of Pocatello. She is a retired elementary school teacher and has served on the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees for 12 years.