Four school board member positions will be up for election June 30 in Cimarron, Garber, Timberlake and Waukomis public schools.
All candidates are running for their respective boards' Office No. 5, except for Waukomis Public Schools. Waukomis candidates Matt Anderson and Wes Felber are running for Office No. 4, an unexpired term.
Cimarron Public Schools
Incumbent candidate Steven R. Johnson lives between Lahoma and El Reno with his wife of 20 years and two sons, fifth- and seventh-graders who attend Cimarron Public Schools. Johnson’s sons are fourth-generation Cimarron schools attendees. Johnson was a third-generation attendee.
Johnson has been in the cooperative industry, grain industry and agriculture industry for about 15 years. Before that, he was in the banking industry. Johnson is currently location manager for Farmers Cooperative in Drummond.
Johnson wants to see the overall education of Cimarron students to continue to improve and wants to see continued improvement in technology available. He wants to continue to be forward moving in Cimarron’s overall plan of action in teacher retention and four-day school weeks.
“My goal has been from day one to make Cimarron Public Schools the premier district of choice in the state of Oklahoma,” Johnson said.
Candidate Dani Wood has lived in Ames with her husband and four children since 2008. She is an educator and has been teaching for 14 years. She used to teach at Cimarron for five years, and said she fell in love with the school during that time. She has another position in a different school district now but remembers her time at Cimarron fondly and cares about the success of the school.
During her time in Cimarron, she worked diligently to provide for her students. She earned more than $60,000 in grant funding, which provided equipment and revamped the physical education programs, science equipment and an action-based learning lab.
Wood has a master’s degree in educational leadership and holds her administrative license. She is running for the school board position because she cares.
“I love the school and want to see its success,” Wood said. “I am knowledgeable and feel I can contribute to a change that puts kids first and supports its teachers.”
Garber Public Schools
Candidate Mark Appleton was born and raised in central Massachusetts, where he attended public schools for his elementary through high school education. In 1999, he received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. A few years later he received his master’s degree in management from Northeastern University in Boston.
From a professional perspective, Appleton has more than 20 years of supply chain experience with companies such as General Electric and Baker Hughes. His responsibilities over the years have included positions such as process and quality engineer, materials manager and plant manager. The past six years, he has been managing plants in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.
His experience with school systems and their inner workings includes regular and special education in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. He feels this diverse exposure and background with school systems would be beneficial for the school board.
Appleton is the father of three children, one of whom is enrolled at Garber.
“My decision to run for school board was based on a desire to become more involved in our school and continue to create a positive environment for our students, the teachers, staff and parents,” Appleton said.
Incumbent candidate Levi Bond’s father served on Garber Public Schools Board of Education for nine years. Bond and his high school sweetheart graduated from Garber High School in 2003 and were married in 2006. He has two kids who attend Garber in kindergarten and third grade. Bond said they are proud to go to the same school as their parents, three of their grandparents and two of their great-grandparents.
Bond has been a member of Garber Fire Department for 12 years. For the past nine years he has been the quality assurance director for Premium Beef and Grain and Power Plus Genetics. It is his responsibility to determine if each ranch is following the guidelines for qualification. He also owns North West Skid Steer Services with his brother. Bond and his wife also own and manage a cattle operation.
Bond decided to run for reelection so he can continue to ensure students, teachers and staff have the opportunity to attend a school that provides a safe and positive learning environment. The education offered at Garber is his main priority. The board is currently working on COVID-19 procedures and protocol that will make an impact on the 2020-21 school year. Bond said it is important the board starts addressing classroom sizes.
“From special education to advanced learning, every student deserves the best opportunity to succeed,” Bond said.
Timberlake Public Schools
Candidate Levi Johnson was born and raised in Helena. Upon graduation from Timberlake High School, he attended Oklahoma State University majoring in biosystems and agriculture engineering.
Following college graduation, Johnson and his family returned to Helena in 2010. He and his family currently farm in the Helena, Goltry and Jet communities.
Johnson wants to set a high expectation for student achievement with clear goals and sound decision making.
“I felt it was my duty as a member of our community to offer up my abilities, expertise and time to the betterment of our school system,” Johnson said.
Candidate Kodee Nickel is married and has three children who attend Timberlake schools in Helena and Jet.
Nickel grew up west of Cleo Springs and graduated from Ringwood High School. She continued her education at Northern Oklahoma College, earning her associate degree in physical education, and later her bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Gregory’s University. She played softball at both schools.
Nickel has been the marketing, admissions director and a social worker for Fairview Fellowship Home and Village for the last 14 years. She also works at The Red Brick in Helena. Together, Nickel and her husband own Working Stock Dog World Registry and the Shaklee/Nickel Fireworks Stand.
As a parent of children in this district, Nickel said she has a vested interest in the success of Timberlake schools and believes serving as a school board member would bring a new perspective and a fresh pair of eyes to the board. She has served on Fairview Chamber of Commerce board and Fairview Northwest Technology Center Advisory Committee.
Special education programs and making sure parent concerns are validated are two things that are important to her.
“As a parent with children who are not straight A students and struggle at times, I recognize the need to make sure all resources possible are available to our students,” Nickel said. “I also understand the need to make sure every parent’s concerns are validated and addressed in an appropriate manner.”
Waukomis candidates Anderson and Felber did not respond to repeated requests for information.