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Posted on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

1 Ypsilanti board member, 2 Willow Run and 4 fresh faces picked to lead joint school district

By Danielle Arndt


The newly appointed school board for the Ypsilanti-Willow Run consolidated school district, from left: Anthony VanDerworp, Daniel Raglin, Gregory Myers, Maria Sheler-Edwards, Don Garrett and David Bates. Not pictured is Celeste Hawkins.

Danielle Arndt |

Editor's note: Where one appointed school board member's youngest child goes to school has been corrected in this story.

The former board presidents from Ypsilanti and Willow Run, whom county leaders credited with launching the merger discussions, were among the seven individuals selected Monday to lead the new consolidated school district.

Residents of the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school systems voted to consolidate on Nov. 6. Per state statute, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District Board of Education must appoint a seven-member board to run the new Ypsi-Willow Run district and the two separate districts until the merger is official on July 1.

The appointed board members will serve until an election can take place in November 2014.

The five-member WISD board unanimously picked former Willow Run President Don Garrett and former Ypsilanti President David Bates from the start.

They will serve in the new district alongside Gregory Myers, who also was on the Willow Run school board, starting in January 2011; and Anthony VanDerworp, Daniel Raglin, Maria Sheler-Edwards and Celeste Hawkins.

VanDerworp, who also was chosen by all five right off the bat, is the current executive director of the Washtenaw Eastern Leaders Group.

VanDerworp said he has worked very closely with the school administration during his years as executive director. He and the Eastern Leaders Group were actively involved in supporting the development of the New Tech models at both Ypsilanti and Willow Run, the Washtenaw International High School, the Early College Alliance and WAY (Widening Advancements for Youth).

He said he played a role in helping to connect the schools with local business owners and entrepreneurs to engage in project-based learning activities with the children at these alternative secondary education schools.

Raglin, Sheler-Edward and Myers all received four “yes” votes and one “maybe” from the WISD board in its initial round of prioritizing the 18 candidates who applied for a spot. Each member of the WISD board went through the candidates and assigned up to 10 yeses or maybes to the 10 individuals they thought would best serve the new consolidated district.

The WISD board voted in favor of Raglin citing his experience in union relations as being possibly helpful during staff negotiations. Raglin is a former General Motors employee and currently is a career transition coach for Right Management in Southfield.

“I liked, too, that he had experience working for a large organization. Starting a new district I could see that being beneficial,” said WISD Trustee Diane Hockett. “He has a very positive approach.”

The WISD board discussed repeatedly the 15 or so emails it received from community members stating their opinions that the majority of the consolidated board should be new.

Myers was on the Willow Run board before, but Hockett pointed out he was one of the newest members of that board. Trustee Mary Jane Tramontin said she liked that Myers is a team player and came to the interview table with the whole picture and the end result in mind. Trustee Dayle Wright liked that he had experience in marketing.

“I was just very impressed with Greg (Myers) in his interview. He was a very passionate person. … His beliefs came through very strong … but he was a little bit calm and soft spoken, which shows he’s human so I liked that,” said Trustee Mark Van Bogelen.

Sheler-Edwards is an Ypsilanti school district resident who currently is sending her children to Lincoln schools. She has a senior who will be graduating from Lincoln High School and a 9 year old who attends South Arbor Charter Academy.

Her oldest son graduated from Ypsilanti High School in 2005 after attending private schools in his earlier years. Sheler-Edwards said her goal in becoming a board member for the new district is to provide the perspective of someone who did leave Ypsilanti schools to seek a better option for her kids, as many others have as well.

She said she hopes to create a new district that she and others similar to her could reconsider for their children.

WISD board members talked about how, at first, they were conflicted about whether to look at Sheler-Edwards leaving her home district as a positive or a negative.

“I think it points out she is a strong advocate for children … and that she sees positive things happening with the new district,” Tramontin said.

“It was a concern for me as I deliberated,” Peoples said. “(But for me) that did not take precedent over the fact that she had worked so hard with the proposal and for the consolidation. … It spoke to her commitment not only for her children but for all children.”

Hawkins received two “yes” votes and two “maybe” votes. WISD board members expressed concerns that perhaps Hawkins was too busy. The social worker, adjunct professor and Eastern Michigan University doctoral candidate could not attend Monday’s special WISD Board of Education meeting to hear that she had been chosen or to defend her time commitments.

The WISD board eventually decided her skillset would be of significant value to the new district and voted in favor of appointing Hawkins to the board.

The WISD board cited Hawkin's grant writing experience and previous work with “vulnerable populations.”

“I think we all have concerns about (the time commitment),” Peoples said. “…But I don’t think there was anything else we could do to make it very clear that this was going to take a lot of time. … I think we need to look at the qualifications.”

He said one person, Kimberly Browning, did withdraw her application because after applying, she realized she might not have enough time to fully commit to serving on the board.

The newly appointed board will conduct its first meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 26 at Ypsilanti Public Schools. The trustees will be sworn in to both the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school boards at that time.

On Nov. 26, the trustees will conduct Ypsilanti business and Willow Run business concurrently and also will approve the application for consolidation that must be submitted to the state of Michigan to become a new school district.

During future meetings, the appointed school board will conduct one district’s business first, adjourn the meeting for that district and then start the meeting for the second district to address its separate business. The consolidated board also will rotate meeting locations, meeting in Ypsilanti one week and then Willow Run for the next meeting.

Wright said appointing just seven board members was difficult because there were 18 unique and qualified applicants.

"But it was also very enriching for me because I now know more about Ypsilanti and Willow Run than I ever did before," she said. "My heart and prayers will be with everyone as we go through this."

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

Danielle Arndt, Is Celeste Hawkins related to former YPS Supt. James Hawkins?

Danielle Arndt

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

I stand corrected and apologize for the error. Maria Sheler-Edwards youngest child does in fact attend South Arbor Charter Academy. This was my misunderstanding and I have corrected the article as well. I also would just like to note that Maria contacted me about the mistake herself and said despite it being controversial that her children attend a charter school, she wanted to be transparent. I just thought readers might want to know this tidbit.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

Could you check to see if she school of choice-ed her kids into Lincoln? If not, I thought one of the requirements, or at least it should have been, was that the person had to reside in either WR or YPS. Why would they select her if she doesn't even reside in our school district?


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

Looking at the comments in the story from the WISD members pertaining to certain past experiences such as labor union work (with auto unions, not teachers...different world entirely) or marketing or a pursuing a doctorate in education, as well as the comments they read and disregarded from the citizens wanting an entirely new board without any remnants of the two old ones, I think they had the school board pretty much picked out prior to the interviews. The interviews were nothing more than a two day dog and pony show formality. It's distressing that they picked someone who repeatedly stated how busy she is and who doesn't even have the time to show up to see if she got the job. It is also distressing that they picked members of the old board when the citizenry of the area stated that they didn't want them as well as parents who pulled their kids from the district. I am incredibly interested to see how they sell this to the parents of the 670 kids who are on a wait list to the charter school on Geddes, or the ones who are looking at the new one down the block from the WR high school. After all of the visioning processes and other meetings, they are just heading right down the same path that they were on before. But now, as evidenced by the fact that the story of this was circulated by AP as far as San Francisco, they are doing this on a national stage.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 12:39 a.m.

Maybe they're part of the Governor's plan to destroy public schools, or at the very least make them subservient to the public charters and for-profits.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

As I stated before, we the voters should be complaining that we had no say on the new school board. I agree with Julia, that Mark Wilde is not on the board after getting a ton of votes in the November election. Are we going to be able to vote on school board members in the future? How long are these appointments?


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

2014 will be the first election for the new school board. There will be some of staggering for the new board, but no one is sure how that will work yet.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

Perhaps the first item on the agenda for this new board ought to be how to end the sad chapter with former Willow Run superintendent Ms. Hope-Jackson and former Willow Run school board president Ms. Washington...... Is the new district liable for covering attorney fees in that situation......?


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:18 a.m.

A person running for an appointed school board position in a newly combined district, but their children attend another P.S. district. That's highly questionable. It would appear dedication to support a school district is not only included via property tax dollars paid but by keeping children an locality aligned district, instead of re-allocating district determined state per pupil funding elsewhere. Either way, the decision is made now and hopefully children and parents of this newly combined school district will be better served by all administrative and school board leadership in the future.

greg, too

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

"Also, one of the two (I believe) candidates in the former YPS district who won during November 6th election, should have been rightfully appointed to a seat on this board. It appears, this didn't occur, correct?" Yep, he was not selected. As well as one of the Willow Run trustees who won reelection this year by popular vote.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

Agree MGoYpsi, It's almost like someone seeking to be on Ann Arbor Public School Board who sent their children to Saline and/or Ypsilanti Public Schools. Highly doubtful Ann Arbor voters would elect this person into office, if this information was passed onto potential voters. One of the problems I've always had with an "appointed" school board are once a person is appointed in elected position, its harder to unseat the "appointee" in a upcoming election, if necessary. Also, one of the two (I believe) candidates in the former YPS district who won during November 6th election, should have been rightfully appointed to a seat on this board. It appears, this didn't occur, correct?


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

Why do we have someone on the board who pulled her kids out and sends them to another district? Oh, she's going to give us her perspective and maybe reconsider coming back. Gee, thanks for helping us out. Ridiculous.

Joy Maggard

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:13 a.m.

I am at a loss as how this consolidation will take place. You're talking about 2 schools who have rivaled each other since before I was a student. Is there anything set that I could look at as a possible solution. We live in the Lincoln School District and I have my son in New Tech because after researching LDS and talking to people who had their kids in that district and even the some of the kids themselves, I didn't want him in the LDS. Now I have to worry about new issues. I police my son and his school. I drop in and have actually sat in and audited his classes. I do not want to worry that bringing these school systems together will interfere or hinder my sons education.

Michelle Valasin

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:12 a.m.

I would like to know what ties they all have with the combined district? Do they have children in this new district? I understand that Maria Sheler-Edwards has children in Lincoln.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

She lives in the district (just looked it up) and sent her children out of district for their schooling, to Lincoln and to a charter school. She seems very polished an qualified, but not exactly a glowing beacon of commitment to the local school district that you would want in such a critical time period.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

I also do not understand how you can be on this board and you don't live in the Ypsilanti / Willow Run district.

Michelle Valasin

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 4:50 a.m.

I am curious, If you don't have time to see if you get the job then how are you going to have time to do the job?

Julia Herbst

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 4:41 a.m.

Why do I not see Mark Wilde's name on this list? That is RIDICULOUS. As a Willow Run Alumni, it is very disappointing to not see his name. Not only was his name on our November ballet, he had a ton of votes for him. Mark has single handedly been one of the biggest supports to that district. He drove his personal vehicle, to save costs; So the Robotics team 66 could travel across country to compete in Championship competitions, He drove kids 5 hours up north for Science Club camping trips, He was a supporter of the Hockey team. He was one of the ONLY board members you could ALWAYS get ahold of if you needed anything from the board. When I was jumped in a bathroom my junior year, I was suspended for 10 days and called the aggressor. The security guards, my teachers, and Mark all knew that I was treated un-fairly, and discriminated against. He was the ONLY authoritive figure, who listened to my story, and tried to help me make it right. I have a huge amount of respect for this man. And sure wish the list included his name.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 12:35 a.m.

He'll still be a very active and valuable member of the school community.

Amber Coleman

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

Hey this is a temporary board until they hold elections. You can still vote for him if/when he runs.

Dan r OBryan

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:43 a.m.

my kids will be attending Lincoln schools too. i did not vote for this merger . its going to be a hard sell to parents that tried to stick it out for the future of their districts . id rather send my children to a school with out alot of start up complications of a new district .people on ypsi s west side will likely choose Ann arbor . for the sake of this new school .address the parents ,your child will attend this school with every intention of learning ,self respect and respect for the staff .any child that cant follow these rules will be expelled . these rules should have been applied to the two districts and,enrollment wouldn't have dropped so drastic

Danielle Arndt

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:23 a.m.

towlermichele, I am not aware of any new board member currently having his or her children in charter schools. However, as you'll notice, the story has been updated with quotes from WISD board members and some of the newly appointed consolidated district members. And Maria Sheler-Edwards does have children at Lincoln schools. Is that whom you are referring to?


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 1:43 a.m.

Which new school board member has their children in Charter schools?