Here are candidate Interest Statements for serving on the MREA 2020 Board of Directors, representing the South Zone:

Teacher Candidate

Joe Cerar, Social Studies Teacher, Plainview-Elgin-Millville Schools

I am a 27-year veteran educator, all in small, rural school districts. Advocacy for small and rural schools has been my passion of mine my entire career. The chronic underfunding of public education, particularly in small-town Minnesota school districts, simply must end. This is the primary reason I wish to represent our schools in this struggle. I have over 20 years of leadership experience at the local, regional, state, and national levels, including extensive political lobbying and advocacy work and currently serve on the Education Minnesota Governing Board, the MN AFL-CIO General Board and am a former member of the National Education Association Board of Directors. These leadership positions have provided me invaluable opportunities to be a strong voice in advocating for public education. I am also a leader on district professional development issues, writing PEM’s Teacher Development and Evaluation program and chairing the committee drafting a new plan moving us toward a district-wide Professional Learning Community model. As a high school Social Studies and Government teacher, I live what I teach, with significant experience in legislative action and long-standing relationships with many politicians. I feel these experiences, relationships, and my deep understanding of the political process would be of great value to MREA. Public education is more than my profession. I grew up in Northeastern Minnesota, graduated from a rural school on the Iron Range, and have spent my entire teaching career working in Greater Minnesota schools. I would be honored to continue this work as a member of MREA’s Board.

Administrator Candidate

Todd Holthaus, Superintendent/Elementary Principal, Hills-Beaver Creek Schools

In July 2014 I was appointed to the MREA Board of Directors to complete a mid-term vacancy. I then ran unopposed to fill the remainder of that appointment and was re-elected to a four year term. I am seeking a final four-year term. I truly am passionately supportive of rural education in Minnesota, living and working as an Elementary Classroom Teacher, Principal and Superintendent all in outstate MN my entire 29-year education career. This past five and 1/2 years, serving on the MREA Board has been a privilege and honor, serving as President in 2018 and now as Past-President. During my time, much has been accomplished — approved ability for added dollars for long term facility maintenance, attention to the quiet crisis of teacher shortages, reduction in state testing, added monies on the general education formula, increased special education funding, and numerous harmful policies redirected — to name a few. MREA’s success is based upon the individuals that make up the organization, and I can continue providing a wide scope of knowledge and expertise for the ever-expanding needs of rural schools in Minnesota. I would greatly appreciate re-election to represent the South Zone for one final term.