Here are candidates’ interest statements for serving on the MREA Board of Directors, representing the North Zone, beginning in 2019:

At-Large Representative Candidates

Laurie Bitter

South Koochiching-Rainy River Schools

My values for our rural area is to continue integrity and excellent service to our communities that are remote. We have to draw from many resources to continue up to date services to meet the needs of our students whom we attract from a 90 -mile radius. I am in my third year as an administrator for my district #363. I understand what it means to reach out to seek guidance, support and training to keep abreast of best practices for our staff and students. I have been a teacher/head coach/athletic director/ college administrator/coach and administrator for over 30 years in the Northern Minnesota. I am a team oriented leader and I know we are only good as those we surround ourselves around. MREA represents four values that are so important for all communities to thrive: Integrity, Leadership, Excellence/Quality, and most importantly Service. I would be honored to be part of the team for shaping the future of rural education in Minnesota.

Beckie Campbell

Bemidji Schools

I am a Special Education Teacher, and I have taught for 33 years in Minnesota, Montana and Alaska. I grew up in Baudette. I have spent my entire life living and teaching in rural areas. I have seen the struggles that rural schools have while trying to best educate their student population. Their difficulties are much different than a metro area. I have a solid perspective concerning rural education and have experienced many situations while teaching that are directly impacted by being in a rural location. Special Education students feel this impact to a greater extent than regular education students. Programs need to be available to all students in some form, irregardless of where they live. In our world of advancing technology, we should be able to provide this to students. I hope to be able to enact change and enhance rural learning for all students across Northern Minnesota.

Jim Ferden

Win-E-Mac Schools

I was born and raised in this area and with the exception of 20 years, have always lived in this area. I have worked 33+ years for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as a bank examiner. I am currently finishing my 10th year on the Win-E-Mac School Board. For nine of those years, I have served as Board Chair. As part of my school board responsibilities, I also serve as a board member for the Region I Information Management Services Cooperative. For the past 5 1/2 years, I have served on the board of directors for Garden Valley Technologies, a large technology service provider in Northwestern Minnesota. I think there is no better place to live and raise a family than in rural Minnesota. However, there are many challenges to doing that, including economic development, affordable housing, quality education, adequate technology, etc. My goal for being involved with our local school, technology company board, and our church has been to preserve, but also improve the quality of life for the area’s residents and generations to come. I feel that MREA has that same goal of improving life in rural Minnesota and that is why I am interested in being on the Board of Directors.

Carol Rhen

Badger Schools

I have been a member of the Badger School Board for the last 8 years. Currently I am teaching 7-12 science in neighboring Greenbush-Middle River School. I graduated from Minot State University with degrees in Chemistry and Physical Science and many additional credits in life and earth science and started teaching grades 7-12 science in North Dakota. Later we moved to Badger where I again taught 7-12 science. However, to be able to teach the same classes in Minnesota, I was required to go back to school and earn a life science license as well. I learned that one size does not fit all. I am excited about MREA because this organization understands the needs and problems facing Greater Minnesota Schools. I have attended many area advocacy meetings as well as MREA’s Annual Conferences. I have found MREA to be a top rate advocacy group for issues that pertain uniquely to the schools in greater Minnesota. The heart and soul of MREA is there for small schools. I would be very proud to serve on its Board of Directors, as I share that passion for education and for rural schools.