Dr. Melissa Thompson: How to Onboard Board Members

SchoolCEO: Marketing for School Leaders

Jul 12 2023 • 40 mins

Dr. Melissa Thompson explores how she built an onboarding program for school board members that prepares potential board members to serve. Her work and onboarding system also gives board members-elect the information, context, and tools necessary to start their positions well. In this practical episode, superintendents and school board presidents will learn how to truly develop their board members to benefit their entire school community.

Dr. Melissa Thompson is the former superintendent of Swallow School District in Wisconsin where she served for 12 years. Dr. Melissa Thompson now serves as the Director of Education Strategy at PRA (Plunkett Raysich Architects) following 25 years in the field of education.

A twelve-year veteran of the superintendency, during Dr. Thompson’s tenure at the Swallow School District accolades from the Wisconsin Department of Instruction included being the Top Scoring District on state report cards (2020-21), the top score in the state for eight-grade mathematics achievement (2018-19), and being one of eight schools statewide to earn recognition as both a High Progress and High Achieving Title I School (2014-15) along with School Health and three Promising Practices Character Education awards.  The district was also named a National Blue Ribbon School in the Closing the Gaps category (2016) by the U.S. Department of Education.

During this same period, significant Long Range Planning efforts coupling Strategic Planning and Master Planning efforts lead to the passage of an $8.3M referendum in 2018 with all project facets completed on time and under budget. Communications campaigns and community engagement during the pre-referendum and design processes earned state and national recognition with ongoing School Board workshops and community engagement around the district’s finances and nexus with school funding in Wisconsin.

Dr. Thompson is a frequent presenter at conferences, facilitator of strategic planning efforts for school districts and organizations, mentor to aspiring and new administrators, search consultant for districts seeking new superintendents, and member and past President of the Hartland-Lake Country Rotary Club where she was also named Rotarian of the Year.

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