Bean, Godsil bring ROWVA School Board to 7 members; Lake voted board president

Tom Martin
Galesburg Register-Mail
ROWVA Board President Scott Lake listens as Heather Godsil (left) and Emily Bean read the oath before being seated on the board Monday night. The board is now full, with seven members.

ONEIDA — Two new members joined the ROWVA School Board Monday night, filling the final two seats left open by board members who resigned in February and March.

Emily Bean and Heather Godsil took their seats on the board Monday after reading the oath provided by vice president Scott Lake. The two join Amber Fleming who was seated on the board in March 21. 

The three new board members replace Rob Kalb, Melissa Shepherd and Jim Haynes, all who resigned in February and March citing board division as at least a factor.

Asked after the meeting if he wanted to make a comment about the two new board members, Lake said, "When you're ready to do some positive reporting on the district, I'll be glad to talk to you."

More:Did ROWVA board discuss challenged book in private? Attorney General's office is reviewing

About the new ROWVA board members

Heather Godsil

Heather Godsil and her husband of Oneida have lived in the ROWVA School District for 10 years and have three children in the district. Godsil works as a nurse practitioner.

"I applied because ROWVA is an amazing school district," Godsil told The Register-Mail. I want to be able to help implement ideas that will continue to help our teachers and students grow and succeed. I would like to see community growth and new students coming to our area."

Emily Bean

Bean has lived with her husband in Wataga for the past seven years. They have two children attending ROWVA schools and a 1-year-old daughter. 

"I ran for the school board to help create a strong foundation for the future of the ROWVA schools," Bean said after the meeting. 

In a previous email Bean explained that her husband Caleb grew up in Wataga and attended ROWVA.

"He speaks highly of the education and the experience he had," Bean told The Register-Mail.

She is innovation coordinator in Integrated Solutions (IT) for OSF Healthcare and is working to get her MBA in IT management. 

Bean said she's met some great people in ROWVA and looks forward to seeing the impact the board can make moving forward on the the future of ROWVA's educational experience.

Another connecting point in the community for Bean is the Wataga Playground Project. She's helping raise money for a new playground in the village. She also serves as village treasurer.

More:What happened in ROWVA? School board splinters over masks, transgender issues, book ban

The board then voted Lake as board president, Matthew Johnson as vice president and Fleming as board secretary. 

Adam Seaney

Board accepts principal's resignation

The board went into closed session and upon coming out accepted multiple resignations, including that of Adam Seaney, high school-junior high principal. 

Seaney, who is taking a job in Galesburg School District. Galesburg District 205 School Board voted to hire him as vocational director at Galesburg High School, effective July 26. Seaney, who replaces the retiring Jeff Houston, will have an annual salary of $91,412.

"I'm excited for the opportunity," Seaney told The Register-Mail Monday. "Vocational education is huge for students in our area and to be able to serve those students is an excellent opportunity."

Seaney's resignation follows that of Superintendent Joe Sornberger, who has accepted the superintendent position at Jasper County Community Unit School District near Effingham. Sornberger and Seaney will finish the academic year at ROWVA.

Seaney was hired in 2018 as ROWVA principal.

More:Six more candidates join field to vie for two open board seats in ROWVA

The board also accepted resignations of first grade teacher Jena Cramer,  School within a School instructor Taylor Fox and choir and elementary music teacher Brodie Ordaz. The board also approved some hires. The Register-Mail is working to get the names of the new staff members.

Board candidate brings up book issue

During the visitors portion of the meeting, Aaron Frey told the board told of his concerns about "The Great Gatsby" being taught in a freshman English class. He pointed out the violence, alcohol, sex and profanity are present in the book.

"So ask yourself, does the material included in "The Great Gatsby" — swearing, sex, domestic violence, murder and self harm — accurately reflect the core values of the ROWVA School District?"

Frey urged the board to investigate and discuss the "controversial" material include in the book and see if it's appropriate for students.

More:ROWVA keeps book 'The Hate U Give' out of classroom, but in school library

Frey later told The Register-Mail he was making a point in light of the board's decision to remove "The Hate U Give" from the curriculum earlier in the school year. 

"I was trying to open the eyes of the board that taking books out of the classroom can be a slippery slope. I'd like to be able to trust teachers and let them be the ones who decide what's best for each age group. If the board starts meddling in the curriculum it can undermine teachers."

Frey, a resident of the school district, was a candidate for the three open board positions. He was among the six candidates to fill Kalb's seat and applied again along with 10 others to fill the remaining two seats.