Charting the Course for Her School District
It was 2008. “Bankruptcy” and “Bailout” dominated the headlines. Foreclosures and evictions were rampant. Short-term interest rates shrank while the unemployment rate rose.
The dismal situation prompted a new area of dedication for Beth Kellum, manager for office administration and finance for the RailWorks Track Systems office in Sewell, NJ.
“As the ‘Great Recession’ took hold, the future seemed bleak,” Beth says. “I was searching for something to do that would be meaningful and help me to feel more connected to my community. I saw a notice on the school website that someone had resigned from the board, so I submitted an application.”
Her application was accepted, and Beth began the first of multiple terms as a member of the Board of Education in her hometown of Clayton, NJ. “It’s a small town and a small district, but we’ve made significant strides during my tenure on the board,” she notes.
Among the strides: A successful bond referendum that has funded a performing arts center for the high school and middle school, football field lights, technological upgrades and other improvements.
It’s clear that Beth is serious about her role in establishing the tone and direction for the district. Having served in various positions over the years, she currently serves as a member of the Policy and Legislation Committee as well as the appointed board parliamentarian.
“With each committee meeting discussion or board vote, I can measure my input and actions against an ideal. Of course, I am only part of a team of individuals who make ‘big things happen,’ but I am proud of my role in board activities.” In her roles, Beth has helped hire a superintendent, prioritized technology acquisition and use in classrooms, and aided in teacher contract negotiations.
The Clayton board and high school have received state and national distinctions. The Clayton Board of Education earned the New Jersey Board of Education “Certified Board” status through members’ specialized training in leadership, governance, labor and other topics. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Clayton High School twice for closing the educational gap for minority students and for student access to technology. And The Daily Beast online news site has named Clayton High School as one of America’s top high schools.