- Otsego Elementary School
ISD 728 Board Member Sara Weis Earns the MSBA Rising Star Award
For several years, Rogers’ resident and ISD 728 School Board Member Sara Weis has been following her passion for all things schools. From parent advisory groups to the Rogers Youth Football Association, hockey to the PTO, Weis has found joy and fulfillment from being involved in her community and schools.
“I think it’s something I found out I had a passion for early on. And when people see that in you, they ask you to be a part of things,” Weis said. “I think, for me, it’s a way to show support for my family, for my kids and for my community. I really do enjoy it.”
That passion and drive for the Rogers community led to an involvement in ISD 728 advisory boards for both the 2014 and 2019 referendums, and, eventually, a run for the ISD 728 School Board, in which she was successful in 2018. Her leadership throughout the construction phase of that 2019 bond campaign – including classroom space, a new school in Otsego and multiple upgrades to activity facilities and gyms – has made her an instant leader on the Board, said Superintendent Dan Bittman.
“Sara is committed to delivering on our promises and doing what is right, even in the face of opposition,” Bittman said. “She’s been an outstanding member of our Project Oversight Committee, which is ensuring the District delivers on all of the promises made throughout the 2019 referendum process. These efforts have required time, patience, understanding and holding people – including leadership here in ISD 728 – accountable.”
For that leadership, drive and dedication to students and families, Weis was honored with the 2021 Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) “Rising Star Award,” which honors a School Board Member in their first term on their respective Board.
The award is bestowed in honor of Tiffany Rodning, late Deputy Director of MSBA.
“MSBA observed that the tenures of our school board members was getting shorter – fewer members serving their communities for longer periods or running through multiple elections,” said Kirk Schneidawind, Executive Director of MSBA. “We had met many new, first-term Board members who were making an impact early. And we wanted some way to recognize them for their drive, energy and passion – something we witnessed everyday with Tiffany. That’s where the idea of the Rising Star Award came from.”
While she doesn’t feel like a “Star” in her work on the ISD 728 School Board, Weis acknowledged that she’s working hard to learn “on the job” and continue to advocate for families and students in this, yes, unprecedented time.
“There are amazing people doing incredible things across the state on our school boards and in our school districts, so this is definitely an honor,” Weis said. “From the first day, soon after we moved [to Rogers], I signed up for Community Education emails because I knew that’s how you found out what was going on in our area. I was involved early and often, and I wouldn’t change that. It’s been a great journey.”
Leadership and a clear, unified message have been two big reasons for ISD 728’s success throughout the past five years, Weis said. Credit for that goes to Superintendent Bittman and her fellow Board members.
“We’ve found a way to have hard conversations, and to do what’s right for our kids and families. It hasn’t always been easy. No one could have expected these last two years and all the social issues around schools and in our communities. But I feel like we’ve done a great job for our communities,” she said.
Weis accepted her award with fellow Board members at the MSBA Conference, held January 13 and 14, 2022.
“Sara has been an outstanding addition to our Board and really came at a time when we needed her voice, her perspective and her leadership,” Chair Holly Thompson said. “She is all about making quality opportunities available for both students and staff. And we’ve seen those opportunities just change and evolve over the last three years. She asks thoughtful questions and wants the Board to be a source of support for others. That’s a unique quality.”