By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
On Feb. 11, two women will be contesting a seat on the Turpin School Board, Both have experience in the classroom, one as a full-time teacher and the other as a substitute.
Incumbent Tara Kirkhart brings 23 years as an educator to the table, and she said she is running for a second term to continue dedicating that perspective to the board and to continue shaping the improvements of Turpin, Okla., school board.
She added she believes her teaching experience is likewise valuable in decisions concerning policy issues such as teacher support, training, evaluations, job descriptions, materials to adopt, instructional programs, curriculum, standards and technology programs.
“You are one person bringing ideas, presenting them, listening to others and working together for the betterment of a school as a whole,” Kirkhart said.
Her challenger, Pam Bromlow, has been involved with the Turpin district for 14 years, serving eight of those as a substitute teacher. She has also volunteered as a coordinator for Box Tops for nine years, and with two sons who have spent the entirety of their secondary education at Turpin, she has likewise attended school board meetings as a guest since 2011.
“Having been a volunteer, employee and parent enables me to bring many perspectives to the table,” Bromlow said. “I think I can make a positive contribution.”
In addition to her time in the classroom, Kirkhart has taught at and attended a variety of state teaching conventions and has attended and participated in a variety of school board workshops over the past five years.
Kirkhart grew up on a farm outside of Turpin and graduated from Turpin High School. Two of her children, Chandler and Brenton, have graduated from THS, and a third, Annalynn, is scheduled to graduate in 2016.
Kirkhart, along with her husband, Roger, own and operate Panhandle Pizza in the Beaver County community, having started the business about six years ago.
Kirkhart graduated from Southwestern College in Winfield, and after having taught high school and grade school title reading in Minneola, she later taught at South Middle School in Liberal.
“Community involvement is important to me,” she said. “I have served on a great number of committees since 1985.”
As for Bromlow, her oldest son, Eli, recently graduated from THS, and the youngest, Eric, will finish his secondary education this year.
Bromlow graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a bachelor of science in animal science and production. She moved to the Oklahoma Panhandle shortly after finishing college, and she has lived in this part of the country for about 38 years.
Bromlow said she used her degree until she and her husband, Scotty, began having kids, and she then chose to stay home to raise Eli and Eric.
Bromlow said she believes the Turpin community could show its commitment to education by attending school board meetings.
“The meetings are very informative and would dispel lots of rumors,” she said. “I believe an informed community is a better community.”
As for Kirkhart, she said the community could simply show more involvement by voting.
“When you vote, that is the beginning of letting others know that education is important enough to you and that you are generally concerned about the future of our community children,” she said. “It shows that you have made a decision to elect a person of your choice on board for the betterment of education.”
Kirkhart said she hopes for a great voter turnout on Feb. 11, and she believes such a turnout shows support for the school, teachers and students.
Kirkhart believes better community commitment to education also involves communication and involvement with one another.
“Parent and community involvement and backing is extremely important in education,” she said.
Kirkhart said with that in mind, Turpin needs to take advantage of the work triangle between parents, students and school faculty and administration.
“We have a great school and a wonderful staff at Turpin,” she said. “I do not, nor should anyone believe that every school district is perfect. There are always things that any and all schools can should improve on.”
Kirkhart said Turpin school officials need to continue parents to stay involved every year, volunteer in the class or at the school and come visit their children’s teachers.
“At Turpin, we do have a local parent/teacher group that works with the teachers,” she said. “Our teachers continue to improve programs to ensure that the students’ needs are met, working after hours either in their classrooms or at home.”
Kirkhart said simply, better community commitment comes down to two things – getting involved by casting a vote and communicating with one another.