iron county school board no. 5

Steve Merrill

For Teachers. For Students. For the Future.

My Vision for Iron County

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Get To Know Steve

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I was raised in West Michigan in a small, close-knit community. I met my wife of 12 years when I was in high school. We have 3 amazing children and a bonus kid who we took in when he was in a rough place.

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I graduated in a class of 120 with a good start on my college career due to dual enrollment programs. This has given me a very strong appreciation for the concurrent enrollment programs available here. I started at a private Christian college, then completed an Associate’s degree at a local community college while working full-time within my career field.

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I entered the technology field in 2000 working in the IT department of a national floral and crafting company. I worked my way up to IT director over 7 years and maintained that position for 2 more years before leaving to move for my wife, who was a teacher in a larger city. For more than a decade I have worked as a software development manager for a consulting company whose clients are ranked on the Fortune 500.

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After traveling with my wife to Utah every summer for 5 years, we decided Utah was where we wanted to retire. In early 2019, we decided it did not make sense to wait until retirement and miss our opportunity to truly enjoy the beauty of Utah. After looking everywhere from St. George to Logan, we decided Cedar City was a perfect combination of amazing scenery, warm but not overwhelmingly hot summers, and snowy winters. We loved the focus on arts and culture with the Shakespeare Festival, and the opportunities for our kids to have an amazing youth with the parades, parks, and programs available through the schools, community, and university.

In order to best support the students of Iron County, I believe we must…

Prepare Our Students

Students need to be prepared for life after school. This will include much more than being able to pass tests. For most students, the school is the largest and most diverse community they will be involved in during their childhood, which means the school is where the students will best learn how to thrive in a community setting.

Students need to leave school knowing how to interact respectfully with other people – even those with whom they do not get along. They need to know how to interact with their future employers, including understanding how to follow instructions and how to communicate in the digital world.

Students are best served when they can see how their actions can affect those around them – positively or negatively – and how to use that knowledge to make good choices.

Teach the Whole Child

Students need to have a safe school environment – physically, mentally, and emotionally – to develop. This includes having the ability to have honest conversations with trusted authority figures (teachers, principals, counselors, etc.) about questions they have and struggles they are facing without fear of negative consequences.

Whether it is to better understand a school subject, their gender identity, how to handle bullying, how to interact with other students, how to interact with their parents, etc. a student needs to be able to fully express themselves.

Support Our Teachers

No one truly understands what a teacher needs to help students succeed in school better than the teachers themselves. The most successful companies listen to their employees to better enable them to perform their jobs. Teachers, similarly, should be involved in the decisions that affect them in the classroom.

Additionally, just as in other work environments, teachers will best succeed when they are provided the best tools for the job. This should include the district providing students with access to online resources to develop digital communication skills and provide access to resources that are not always available through the school, including access after school operating hours.

Teachers (and other school staff) should also be provided with safe, effective paths that are agreed upon by the teachers, administrators, school board, and community on how to navigate sensitive topics that students bring to them while protecting both the student and the teacher from retribution as long as the path is followed as defined.

The path needs to be clear with options for bringing in approved additional resources as different situations arise, whether it be the parents, a counselor, the principal, other students, etc.

Be a Listening Ear

I will be in the schools, open to feedback from the students and staff on how we can better support them. I am happy to hear from the community to see how I can better serve them in this position. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m ready and willing to learn.

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