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Greater Tulsa Reporter


Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education Works Hard for the District

By EMILY RAMSEY
Managing Editor



The Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education is an elected board with its members given the responsibility of governing the school district while preserving the district’s core values.
The school board is responsible for establishing policies under which the school system operates. The TPS school board has seven members: Gary Percefull, Amy Shelton, Jennettie Marshall, Shawna Keller, Cindy Gustafson Decker, Ruth Ann Fate and Suzanne Schreiber.

Gary Percefull was elected to the Board of Education in 2003. His term will expire in 2019.

He is a graduate of Tulsa Memorial High School and the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Percefull is president of public relations firm The Scissortail Group Ltd. He was previously employed at the Tulsa World.

He and his wife are both active volunteers with several community organizations and initiatives. Percefull serves on the boards of the Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa and the Southwest Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and the steering committees of the East Tulsa Prevention Coalition and Tulsa Volunteer Center. He is past president of the Riverview Neighborhood Association.

The Scissortail Group is a Partners in Education/Adopt-A-School partner with Park Elementary School, and Percefull mentors students through the Going-to-Bat for Tulsa Kids program.

Schools in Percefull’s election district are Porter; Chouteau, Emerson, Eugene Field, Lee, Park, Remington, Robertson and Mark Twain elementary schools; Clinton Middle School; and Webster High School.

Amy Shelton was elected to her school board seat in 2017. Her term will expire in 2021.

Shelton has dedicated her career to working in public education and serving as a community advocate and volunteer. She taught fifth grade at Anderson and Cooper Elementary and third grade reading intervention at Celia Clinton Elementary. She ran the Reading Partners volunteer tutoring program at Kendall-Whittier Elementary and then led the Reading Partners summer school program for two years.

Shelton holds an Oklahoma educator’s certification, a B.A. in International Studies from Cedarville University in Ohio, an M.A. in Educational Studies from the University of Tulsa, and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from Oklahoma State University.

Shelton appreciates her opportunity serving on the school board to be a representative of those whom she represents.

“Having a democratically-elected school board helps to ensure that our district stays true to its mission and is operating in the best interest of students, families and employees,” she says. “For me, that means doing my best to be easily accessible so that community members can reach out to me with their concerns . . .. I attempt to be a student of our city and of my board district in particular so that I can help ensure that the vision of our district reflects the aspirations of families and community members.”

Shelton is also a member of the Kendall-Whittier Resident Council, Tulsa’s Young Professionals and the Women’s Leadership Council.

Schools in Shelton’s district are Burroughs, Kendall-Whittier, McKinley, Mitchell, Owen, Sequoyah, and Springdale elementary schools; Carver Middle School; and Will Rogers College High and Junior High and Booker T. Washington High School.

Jennettie Marshall was elected to the school board in April. Her term will expire in 2021.

Marshall has a strong history of serving people through her employment, ministerial duties, funeral service duties and volunteer work. Marshall is retired from the State of Oklahoma, where she worked for the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services. She also served the City of Tulsa as a police and fire chaplain and was trained in emergency disaster response and hostage negotiation.

In 1994, Marshall established Reclaim Inc., a program that specializes in serving as a “vehicle of change and redirection” for families, juveniles and adults.

Marshall holds degrees in political science, corrections, business management and funeral service. She attended Phillips Theological Seminary and is completing her seminary coursework through Andersonville Theological Seminary. She is the founding pastor of Living Sanctuary Evangelistic Ministries.

Schools in Marshall’s election district are ECDC Bunche; Academy Central, Anderson, Celia Clinton, Gilcrease, Hamilton, Hawthorne, Jackson, Penn and Whitman elementary schools; Dual Language Program; Central Junior High, Monroe Demonstration School; McLain Junior High/7th Grade Academy; and Central and McLain high schools.

Shawna Keller has served on the TPS school board for four years. She is a fourth-generation East Tulsa resident, attended Disney Elementary School and Foster Middle School (currently East Central Junior High School), and graduated from East Central High School.

Keller graduated from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor’s degree in history and received her teaching certification from Northeastern State University. She is currently working on her master’s in history at TU.

She has been teaching at the Owasso Ram Academy for 11 years.

Regarding her reasons for running for her school board seat, “I owe a lot to TPS and the teachers and staff who supported me,” she says. “Serving on the board is an opportunity to pass on the legacy of those who helped shape me and continue to shape young people across the state.”

Keller has served on the board for four years and feels that she brings a unique perspective to the board as a current educator.

“As education continues to be devalued as shown through constant budget cuts, I hear our students, my students, talk about how this just proves to them that no one cares. If we don’t truly start taking the education budget crisis seriously and take action to correct it, we will stifle the opportunities of what our children could go on to do.”

Keller is proud of TPS administrators and the school board’s efforts to continue to focus on equity across the district and the adoption of the district’s strategic plan, Destination Excellence, despite extreme funding cuts over the past four years, she says.

Schools in Keller’s district are Columbus, Cooper, Disney, ECDC Reed, Kerr, Lindbergh, Lewis and Clark, Peary, and Skelly elementary schools and East Central Jr. High and East Central High School.

Dr. Cindy Gustafson Decker was appointed by the Board of Education in May 2015.

Decker attended Patrick Henry Elementary and Edison Junior High and graduated from Edison High School. She holds a B.A. in economics and mathematics from Emory University in Atlanta and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley.

Decker has been an education researcher since 2002. She works as Director of Research and Accountability at CAP Tulsa while also consulting for various groups including the U.S. Department of Education and Howard County Public School System in Maryland. Formerly, she was a senior economist working with the education team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Decker joined the school board because of her passion to ensure that all children receive a quality education, she says.

“Exceptional public education is the best predictor of our city’s success,” Decker says. “The better our education system, the better ability for our community to retain and attract businesses. The more businesses, the better our jobs.” 

Decker values her role on the school board for two main reasons, she continues, because the board employs and evaluates the superintendent and develops the district vision and the policies that the superintendent must follow. Also, school board members are the ones who “listen to parents and community members to ensure their voices are heard and valued.”

Schools in Decker’s district include Eliot, Lanier and Wright elementary schools; Mayo Demonstration School; and Edison Preparatory School.

Ruth Ann Fate has been serving on TPS’ Board of Education for 21 years.

Fate’s interest in serving on the school board stems from her recognition of the importance of education, which “gives students the opportunity to become who they want to be,” and her belief that serving on the school board allows her to play a role in “making a difference in people’s lives,” she says.

Fate is a life-long Oklahoman, who graduated from the University of Oklahoma.
Her three children graduated from Memorial High School.

Forty-seven years ago, Fate founded a pre-school called Bethany Community School at 67th Street and Sheridan Road, where she taught for 10 years.

Fate serves on the Board of Trustees for the National Conference for Community, is a trustee of the Philbrook Museum Board, is the past president and a member of the Board of Arts and Humanities Council, is the president of OU College of Education Boardof Advocates, is an advisory board member for the Center for Counseling and for the Tulsa Arboretum, and serves on the Phillips Theological Seminary board.

Schools in Fate’s district include Bell, Hoover, Jones, MacArthur, and Salk elementary schools; Zarrow International School; Hale and Memorial junior high schools; Street School; and Hale High School.

Suzanne Schreiber was elected to her school board position in 2014. She plans to run for another four-year term when her position expires in 2018, she says.
Schreiber has lived in Tulsa for over 20 years.

She is a graduate of the University of Tulsa and the University of Tulsa Law School. She now works for the Tulsa Community Foundation (TCF) on a variety of community improvement projects. Prior to her position at TCF, Suzanne practiced law in the private sector and served as a federal law clerk at both the district and appellate levels.

Schreiber’s passion for public education is fueled by the belief that every child can learn and our community is stronger when all children have access to a quality education.

“The lack of funding for public schools in Oklahoma is immoral and detrimental to the economic future of our state,” she says. “Failure to invest in our kids has no upside.”
During Schreiber’s time on the school board, she is most proud of the board’s decision to hire TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist, Schreiber says. “She (Gist) is such a passionate and inspiring leader for us all but most importantly for our students and teachers.”

Schreiber is also proud of the district’s creation of its Destination Excellence strategic plan. “We’ve seen improvement already in high school graduation rates,” she says, “Also, through innovative leadership and technology initiatives, students are being challenged to take ownership of their futures.”

Schools in Schreiber’s election district are Carnegie, Eisenhower International, Grimes, Grissom, Patrick Henry, Key, Marshall and McClure elementary schools; Thoreau Demonstration Academy; and Memorial High School.

Updated 09-18-2017

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