Frank Kline, 62, came to the Methow Valley in 1994 after 20 years in Seattle as a real estate appraiser and broker. As he tells it, he was considering moving either to Sun Valley, Idaho, or to the Methow. He concluded that to live in Sun Valley “You’d need a million dollars, but in the Methow, you could make a million dollars,” he jokes. He lives on a horse farm in Mazama.
Kline graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., and served in the U.S. Coast Guard. For most of his working life thereafter, he’s been self-employed.
How did he become interested in running for the school board? “Aaron Burkhart Sr. had a big influence on me,” Kline answers. A member of the school board at the time, Burkhart impressed on him the importance of citizens stepping up to serve on the board. “I place a high value on public education,” says Kline, now in his third term.
Asked what he thinks is the school district’s greatest asset, Kline answers unhesitatingly, “The teachers. That’s the high point of this school district. They’re so dedicated. They’re so professional. They care.” The well-being of students seems to be a concern shared not just by teachers but everyone employed by the district, he says. ”It’s just a joy to work in this atmosphere.”
“Our primary challenge is making sure that we’re giving the best possible learning opportunity to each student,” Kline adds. Making that happen means carving out the time for the intensive teacher training and development that’s been introduced under Superintendent Mark Wenzel, he says. The state so far has agreed to allow waivers from the required instructional days so this training can take place, but Kline says he worries that looming budget cuts at the state level may threaten that effort. Two-thirds of the district’s teachers have master’s degrees, and two have qualified for national board certification by the National Board for Professional Teacher Standards.
Technology, properly used, has an important role to play in providing learning opportunities for students, according to Kline. There’s a pilot program in the elementary school using i-Pads, and every board member conducts school business on i-Pads. “The kids are ahead of us. We are the ones fighting it,” he says, alluding to dubious adults who may question the value of computer-assisted learning. “We’re trying to stay current with technology.” In today’s world, computer literacy is required for success in the workforce, Kline says.
The collaboration between student and teacher, as well as among teachers, and the practice of assigning a counselor to track each student’s academic progress from elementary school through high school are among developments Kline singles out for praise. He’s enthusiastic as well about recent additions to the curriculum: video production, welding, Mandarin Chinese, speech and debate.
Says Kline: “I’m proud of what’s going on here.”