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School Board Recognition Month Highlights MISD Trustees’ Dedication to the Students of McKinney ISD

Article|
Shane Mauldin|
Friday, January 26, 2018
  • MISD Board President Curtis Rippee welcomes teachers new to the district at the 2017 New Teacher Breakfast.
  • MISD Board Vice-President Amy Dankel at the 2014 MISD Convocation
  • Stephanie O’Dell gets a first-hand look at the Functional Fitness P.E. program at McKinney High School.
  • Maria McKinzie (second from right) talks with students at Malvern during the district’s annual Senior Tour.
  • The newest member of the MISD Board, Kenneth Ussery has a long history of involvement with the MISD Fine Arts Dept. Here he accompanies the combined men’s choirs of the district’s secondary campuses. (Courtesy of MHS)
  • Board member Kathi Livezey was inducted into the McKinney High School Distinguished Lions in 2015.
  • Longtime Board member Lynn Sperry visits with McNeil Elementary namesake Arthur McNeil.

McKinney, Texas – If there is one common thread among the members of the McKinney ISD Board of Trustees it’s that they care deeply for the children of our community. And, they work hard to ensure that when our students cross the graduation stage, they do so well-equipped for the journey ahead.

January is designated each year as School Board Recognition Month by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), and MISD has joined other districts across the state in thanking the men and women who serve in the crucial role of school board trustee.

Trustees are elected by the general public to serve for overlapping terms of four years each, and elections for board seats are conducted annually each May. The candidates run for specific places on the board (Place 1, Place 2, etc.), but they represent McKinney ISD as a whole. Once elections are finalized, the Board elects a president, vice-president and secretary for one-year terms.

Board members are responsible for providing the best educational opportunity possible for the students in McKinney ISD and for making all final decisions regarding school district priorities, policies, personnel, textbooks, expenditures and growth management.

They are responsible for adopting a budget that will properly maintain and operate all schools in the district, levying taxes to support the budget and determining and submitting bond issues to the voting citizens of McKinney regarding the need to finance specific construction projects.

“I don’t think the average individual in our community realizes the amount of time that our board members spend not only in training, but in researching current district issues, then following up with me individually and with members of our cabinet to better understand those issues,” said McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel.

In addition to the time spent preparing for and conducting board meetings, MISD trustees are involved in happenings all around the district all the time—whether it’s welcoming new staff at formal events like the annual New Teacher Breakfast or reading to a classroom full of kindergartners. They mentor kids and lend their talents to fine arts performances and deliver crape myrtles to fifth graders. They work with the district to develop policies and programs, and they listen to the questions and concerns of their neighbors. There is always something going on that board members are involved in.

They certainly don’t do any of it for the pay. There is none. The motivation to serve springs, largely, from a desire to give back to a community and school district that has enriched the lives of their own children and to pass that on to the current generation of MISD students.

“It’s an extremely difficult role,” said McDaniel, “because they represent their constituents—our community—and at the same time, they have to share in the vision and the process of creating that vision with us at the district level. They also hold us accountable for following through with what the community expects of us. Our board understands their role extremely well. They listen to the community and share concerns with me. They share in the vision for what we all believe McKinney ISD can be and they hold us accountable for getting the job done — which I appreciate.”

The decisions of MISD board members impact the lives of nearly 25,000 students—not only today, but potentially, for years down the road.

That’s the load that school board members carry. And, it’s a weighty responsibility.

In honor of School Board Recognition Month, we’d like to take a few moments to spotlight each of our MISD trustees and say thank you for the way they lead and guide McKinney ISD.

Curtis Rippee, President — Place 7 (At-Large)

Rippee holding painting with two students

Students present artwork to Curtis Rippee at a school wide assembly in 2016.

Curtis Rippee and his family moved to McKinney to be part of a dynamic community where families live, work, attend school and attend church all in the same city. Serving on the board is Rippee’s way to give back and enhance one of the most important foundations of our community, the school system.

He has more than 25 years of financial and operational management experience and is the managing partner and chief financial officer of ACIS, Inc. a commercial HVAC and Plumbing service company. Before joining ACIS in 2012, Rippee was the founder and principal of StratiFi Partners, LLC, a CFO and consulting services firm. Prior to starting StratiFi Partners, his leadership roles included serving as the chief financial officer of several small to mid-sized private companies, and as the chief accounting officer and vice-president of finance and administration for a publicly traded company.

Rippee has served as chair of the Executive and Finance Committees of First Baptist Church as well as treasurer of the Avenues Counseling Center Board of Trustees and the McKinney Education Foundation Board. He has been a Junior Achievement volunteer and is a past participant in McKinney CAN (Community Action Network), a program involving parents and community leaders in a yearlong dialogue with the school district.

He began his professional career with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, has a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of Missouri and is a licensed certified public accountant.

Rippee and his wife, Deeann, are active members of First Baptist Church of McKinney and have three girls—Emma Grace, who graduated from McKinney Boyd High School last year; Abigail, who attends Boyd; and Ellie, who is a student at Faubion Middle School.

“McKinney ISD is well known for its excellence and innovation,” said Rippee. “My family came to McKinney specifically because of its heritage and reputation as a community and its outstanding school system. McKinney has been everything we could have hoped for and more.”

Amy Dankel, Vice-President—Place 4

Amy Dankel talking on microphone to crowd of students

Amy Dankel speaks to the Evans Middle School student body at an end of the year celebration.

Dankel moved to McKinney in 1997 and has served as a public school educator for 22 years—the last 10 at Finch Elementary School and Eddins Elementary School.

She and her husband Roger have been married for 29 years and are active members of Stonebridge United Methodist Church. Roger works for Simpson Strong-Tie.

Their two children were educated in MISD. Nick graduated from McKinney North High School in 2008 and later graduated from the University of Colorado, majoring in Astrophysics. Stephanie graduated from McKinney Boyd in 2010 and and went on to earn a degree from Clemson University in International Health and Spanish.

Dankel earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor of Science in Education from Millsaps College.

Daniel said that her primary motivation for serving on the board is a deep sense of responsibility to give back to a school system and community that has given so much to her.

Stephanie O’Dell, Secretary—Place 6 (At-Large)

O'Dell in front of computer talking with a student

MISD Board Secretary Stephanie O’Dell at Malvern Elementary

Stephanie O’Dell has been actively involved in McKinney schools for 14 years. Serving on PTO and PTA in various roles has given her the opportunity to develop relationships with teachers and principals.

She currently serves on the McKinney Education Foundation Board (MEF) and the Baylor Hospital Board. She is also a mentor in the REACH program and active in her church.

O’Dell graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in marketing and she worked in sales for eight years. She and her husband have two daughters. The oldest attends Texas A&M University and the youngest is at McKinney High School.

Serving as a trustee, O’Dell has the opportunity to visit campuses and see the students in action. As McKinney grows, she will seek to pursue excellence for MISD.

Maria McKinzie—Place 1

McKinzie handing graduate a diploma and shaking his hand

MISD Board member Maria McKinzie at the 2017 McKinney High School graduation

Maria McKinzie has deep roots in McKinney ISD. She and her husband Johnny, have raised three children in the district over the course of their 33 years of marriage: Johnny Ray—who was a member of the first graduating class of McKinney North High School—Thomas (MHS) and Deanna (MNHS). In addition, three of her seven grandchildren live in McKinney and attend Webb Elementary and Scott Johnson Middle School.

McKinzie graduated from McKinney High School in 1977 and has spent the past 40 years working for Raytheon Company in McKinney. She is currently employed with Logistics Supply Chain and is active in a number of volunteer organizations throughout the community.

“It has been an honor to serve on the MISD Board of Trustees since 2006. I’m bilingual, and I feel it is one of my greatest assets,” said McKinzie. “I will continue to strive for opportunities to increase our community involvement to ensure our children can accomplish each of their individual dreams and goals. I am proud to serve with my fellow Board members and to know that we do not represent just our single districts—I am proud to say we represent McKinney ISD as a whole.”

En Español

María McKinzie nació y se crió en McKinney. Ella ha participado activamente en el sistema escolar y en la comunidad por más de 20 años.

Ella y su esposo, Johnny, han estado casados por 33 años y tienen un hijo que se graduó de la primera clase de McKinney North High School. Ella también ha criado a Deanna y Thomas que se gradúan de McKinney North High School y de McKinney High. Además, tres de sus nietos viven en McKinney y atenden Webb Elementary y Scott Johnson Middle School.

McKinzie se graduó de McKinney High School en 1977 y pasó los últimos 40 años de su carrera profesional trabajando para la compañía Raytheon en McKinney. Actualmente ella trabaja como Especialista de Cadena de Suministro y participa activamente en varias organizaciones de voluntarios en la comunidad.

“Ha sido un honor para servir en McKinney ISD Board of Trustees desde 2006. Puedo hablar ingles y español y siento que es uno de mi mayores razónes de pueder ayudar en el distrito” dice McKinzie “ Continuare buscando oportunidades para aumentar la participación de nuestra comunidad para asegurar que nuestros estudiantes puedan lograr cada uno de sus sueños y ambiciones. Estoy orgullosa de servir con mis compañeros en McKinney Board of Trustees y saber que no solo representamos a solo un distrito ……. Representamos a McKinney ISD todos distritos juntos como uno.”

Kenneth Ussery—Place 2

Ussery smiling and shaking MHS graduate's hand

Kenneth Ussery presents diplomas to graduates during the 2017 McKinney High School commencement.

Fifth-generation McKinney native Kenneth Ussery is proud to make his home in the city where he spent many of his formative years. Much has changed since his childhood, but the “one-horse town” he remembers from the mid-1960’s that now sprawls with industry and luxury has managed to remain fundamentally the same at heart.

“While we have experienced growing pains over the years, I am proud of our city and how we have maintained a wonderful community atmosphere along with an exemplary school system. To me, we have the best of both worlds,” Kenneth says.

He has approached his passion for education and higher learning with a willingness to tackle each new challenge and direction with fervor. While he began his college career with scholarships to pursue music, he earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting. Later, he went on to attend Dallas Theological Seminary to study theology and finished his master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family counseling.

After more than 30 years of leading worship and family ministries, Ussery earned his realtor license and thoroughly enjoys helping families in the community find their perfect McKinney home.

He is no stranger to MISD. In 1983, Ussery began providing accompaniment for MISD band students’ competitions, and thirty-five years later, he can still be found behind the piano. Over the years, he has played for band, choir and orchestra students at all three MISD high schools, all five middle schools and has accompanied some of the district’s elementary school choirs.

He currently serves as treasurer for the McKinney Boyd Band Boosters. He also enjoys Friday night lights and can always be found on the football field loading and unloading for half-time shows. His involvement in the district is not limited to fine arts programs, however. He also spent several years tutoring math at the middle school level and has served as a substitute teacher. “I have such an appreciation for our teachers and wanted to help them however I could,” he said.

Ussery has also served on CAN (Community Action Network) and has been involved in McKinney ISD school bond elections. When McClure Elementary School opened, Ussery served on the Strategic and Planning Committee to assist in launching the school’s environmental infrastructure.

Kathi Livezey—Place 3

Lizezey surrounded by Marquettes in uniform

Kathi Livezey talks with members of the MHS Marquettes during her induction into the MHS Distinguished Lions.

Kathi Livezey taught fourth and fifth grade at J.W. Webb Elementary School for seven years, and served as an elementary library media specialist. In addition, she spent over 23 years as the library media specialist at McKinney High School. She has also worked as an office manager and software trainer.

Livezey received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Southern Methodist University and a Master of Library and Information Science from Texas Woman’s University. She has been married to her husband, Mike Livezey, for 30 years and has two daughters, Kara and Katie.

She is a graduate of McKinney High School and a member of the McKinney Ex-Students Association Board (2003-2009). She is an active member of First Christian Church of McKinney.

“I am honored to have been elected to the MISD Board of Trustees, and I look forward to working with the community, MISD administration, and other members of the Board to effectively implement the mission and goals of the district,” said Livezey.

Lynn Sperry—Place 5

Cockrill and Sperry talking in the Cockrill library

Lynn Sperry (right) and Maria McKinzie (center) talk with Cockrill Middle School namesake Dr. Jack Cockrill at a recent 10 year anniversary celebration at the campus.

Lynn Sperry has served on the MISD Board of Trustees for 34 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from The Ohio State University and taught public school vocal and instrumental music for grades 1 – 8.

Sperry served 12 years as a Director of the Texas Association of School Boards. She is a graduate of the Texas Association of School Boards Leadership TASB program, “Class of 2000” with the designation of “Master Trustee.”

Sperry cites her experience in education along with her years of involvement as a parent and current involvement as a grandparent as assets to the MISD School Board.

She is proud to set goals for the district that raise the bar academically and feels that the budget and the increase in student population are ongoing challenges for MISD. Sperry is extremely proud of how the board and district administration have handled bonded indebtedness over the years. The result is a very stable financial future for MISD.

McKinney ISD has the earned reputation of a quality district, and Sperry is very excited to see students representing many different disciplines excel in district, state and national competitions. MISD has truly become an outstanding organization, and she is proud to work with a board of trustees that makes students its priority.

Sperry received the Carey Cox Award – The Outstanding McKinney Citizen 2006. She was awarded the Kim Hoffman Volunteer of the Year for McKinney 1997 (co-recipients Lynn and Neil Sperry).

Sperry’s community involvement includes: Founding and current Board Member Emeritus of McKinney Education Foundation; Board Member, McKinney Baylor Scott and White Hospital; Past President, Avenues Counseling Center Board; Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney, Board Member; Founding Member and MISD liaison to Serenity High Advisory Board.

Currently, Lynn serves on the Executive Committee of the North Texas Area Association of School Boards.

Her three children attended MISD schools and she is proud that the education they received prepared them for success in college and in their careers. Lynn has seven grandchildren. The oldest is a 2016 graduate of McKinney North High School and the other six are enrolled in four MISD campuses (MNHS, Dowell, Eddins and Webb Elementary). Lynn and her husband Neil own Neil Sperry’s GARDENS. She and her family are members of the first United Methodist Church of McKinney.

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