Menomonee Falls - It has been more than a decades worth of countless meetings, decision-making and leadership for Kathy Shurilla.
Now, however, her nearly 13 years of service to the Menomonee Falls School Board has come to end as Shurilla wrapped her tenure with a final board meeting Monday night. Shurilla has been president of the board since 2005, after serving as a member since July 1999.
"Your leadership has been tremendous," said past board member Don Eisenhower, who served for three years while Shurilla was president. "You're a very unselfish person and extremely thoughtful."
Shurilla didn't have to campaign for her first seat on the board when she was appointed into Clyde Chumbley's position after he resigned. She was not new to School Board meetings, however, as she spent time in the late 1990s on the Shady Lane Elementary Parent Teachers Association advocating for things such as the continuation of half-day kindergarten.
"I was lucky enough to receive it," she said at her final board meeting, where she was honored as one of "Menomonee Falls finest."
Shurilla also received the Friends of Education award that was presented to her by Superintendent Patricia Greco.
Since her appointment, Shurilla has worked with 23 board members, three superintendents, two business directors, three pupil services directors, three technology directors and different principals at almost every school in the district. She estimated she has attended 100 meetings per year, for the past 12 years.
Although school districts are ever changing and being a board member is time-consuming, it has been a rewarding experience for the mother who has had four children in the Menomonee Falls School District. Being a School Board member is a team effort filled with differing opinions and countless debates. However, Shurilla personally had a hand in implementing student school board members, ensuring the redesign of superintendent evaluations and beginning work on an orientation booklet for new board members. She was also part of a referendum that renovated the high school and reconfigured the grades, allowing ninth grade to be a part of the high school once more.
"The School Board that first appointed you nearly 13 years ago knew back then what they were getting. Now it's time to do something for yourself," said Board Member Gina Palazzari. "No matter how many times you claim not to know much of anything about the work field, you handled everything with finesse.
"You are a kind and engaging leader. You can handle difficult situations and people with a calm and amazing grace and you know how to get us to think like a team."
Diversity is needed
If there is one thing Shurilla has learned in her years of service, it is that diverse opinions on the board are not only healthy, but a pathway to a positive decision.
"I hope the community can support a diverse School Board because there's one for all kinds of opinions and it really makes for good conversations, good debates and good decisions and I think it's very healthy and very important," Shurilla said.
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