Once a teacher, always a teacher — so says Jo Ann Trenary, one of 19 official candidates vying for the Lawrence school board seat left vacated by Kristie Adair last month.
As a retired teacher, principal and education consultant, Trenary jumped at the chance to offer her lengthy experience in the classroom to the school board, she says.
“Educators are that way. You’ve got to understand educators,” Trenary, 73, says of her motivations behind applying for the spot. “It’s hard to be away from something you’ve been passionate about your whole life.”
Now “fully in retirement mode,” Trenary says she spent approximately 40 years as an educator before returning to Lawrence, where she attended college, in 2012. It was her dream, she says, to reconnect with Lawrence and the University of Kansas, where her entire family — including her father, who she says played basketball under legendary coach Phog Allen — attended classes.
Trenary, a Wichita native, also studied at KU from 1961 to 1965 before marrying her husband and relocating with him to Florida. She completed her bachelor’s degree in education from Florida Atlantic University in 1967 and also holds a master’s degree in teaching and an education specialist degree from Oklahoma City University and the University of Montevallo, respectively.
She began her teaching career in Florida and Oklahoma before moving with her family to Alabama, where she worked as an assistant principal and later, an education consultant. As both an administrator and consultant, Trenary says she oftentimes worked with under-served populations, including children of color and English language learners. That experience, she says, is mainly what inspired her to apply for the school board.
With the Lawrence district struggling to improve its ongoing equity issues, among them racial achievement gaps and building a diverse teaching corps, Trenary says she could offer insight into how she managed similar problems in disadvantaged Alabama schools, where she says she helped “develop curriculum to support” Spanish-speaking students.
She says she sees a need for that kind of culturally relevant instruction at Cordley Elementary School, where her granddaughter is in the fourth grade. After moving back to Lawrence a few years ago, Trenary started volunteering at the school.
Even now in her retirement, Trenary says she can’t stay away from education.
“If I’m able to get on the school board for a while and see what issues exist, I think I’ve got a lot to offer,” she says, “And I’m hoping that I’ll have an opportunity to do that.”
School board members will meet with all candidates during the board's Monday meeting before appointing a new board member March 27.
Profiles of applicants to fill vacancy on USD 497 school boardThe Journal-World has published information, as it became available, on applications for the spot vacated by Lawrence school board member Kristie Adair.
March 10 — Lori Hutfles
March 10 — Norine Spears
March 9 — Ruben Flores
March 9 — John Rury
March 8 — Jo Ann Trenary
March 8 — Jesse Brinson
March 7 — Linda J. Sheppard
March 7 — Melissa Johnson
March 6 — Kyung Hwang
March 3 — Syed A. Jamal
March 2 — Mitzi Robinson
March 1 — Steve Wallace
March 1 — William “Bill” Roth
Feb. 28 — James Hollinger
Feb. 25 — Dr. Fatima Khan
Feb. 24 — Margaret Weisbrod Morris
Feb. 23 — Mary Loveland