Ten Verona Area School District residents will vie for one seat on the Verona Board of Education next week.

The board will start its meeting an hour earlier than usual, at 6 p.m., Monday, Sept. 14, to interview the 10 candidates for the vacant At-Large seat on the board. The seat was vacated by Debbie Biddle, who announced in mid-July she and her husband were moving to Illinois, and she would not be able to fulfill her responsibility to the board.

Biddle had just been re-elected in April after being selected to fill the seat vacated by Russell King in early 2019.

Many applicants have experience in the education field with the Verona Area School District as staff members, parents, or both. In alphabetical order by last name, the candidates are:

Margaret Carpenter

Occupation: Substitute teacher

Experience with education: Former education director for state Department of Corrections, teacher, military training officer

Interest in the board: “I am, specifically, interested based on my strong desire to continue promoting and providing academic excellence to students of all ages and backgrounds. I embrace this opportunity to continue my service in a field that has tremendous impact on every aspect of our global existence.”

Jeff Cordray

Occupation: Economist

Experience with education: Teaching assistant in economics and tutor in college, guest lecturer at University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, hockey coach for K-12 in Verona

Interest in the board: “Given the challenging times we are in, I would be excited to join the Board to assist with working through the many issues that have and will continue to arise. I feel my background is a good fit for the Board and I do well under pressure.”

Ryan Kimmett

Occupation: Currently raising funds to start independent bookstore; former emergency department coordinator at UW Hospital

Experience with education: Unknown

Interest in the board: “We are also challenged to address the systemic inequalities faced by our students of color as evidenced by stark differences in outcomes across the state including here in Verona … I believe I would be an asset on the board and will bring with me my passion for learning, fairness and dedication to our community.”

Jennifer Murphy

Occupation: Savanna Oaks Middle School math teacher and faculty associate at University of Wisconsin-Madison Secondary Education Math Masters program

Experience with education: Current teacher

Interest in the board: “I care deeply about our school district and am passionate about public education. I would bring energy and integrity to this position, to help continue and support our legacy as a forward-thinking, equity focused school community.”

Phoebe Natzke

Occupation: Researcher and speech-language pathologist

Experience with education: Former Verona Area School District speech-language pathologist, Stoner Prairie Elementary Parent-Teacher organization, Stoner Prairie Family Involvement Committee

Interest in the board: “Acting as a parent stakeholder has helped me consider what it means to plan for long-term growth and success for all learners in the district.”

John Porco

Occupation: University of Wisconsin-Madison instructor

Experience with education: Former K-12 engagement coordinator for Literacy by the Lakes, Black Belt America director of curriculum and training, district middle school scheduling committee, New Century School governance council president

Interest in the board: “More than just being a parent with a passion for education, I believe in the power of civil discourse to find the best solutions. I see the school board as a place to set an example for resolving big problems and disagreements with the same mutual respect, cultural responsiveness and shared responsibility that form the core values of our strategic plan.”

Bob Ross

Occupation: Self-employed software project manager and analyst

Experience with education: Two children in the district, youth robotic teach coach, ran for At-Large seat in 2020

Interest in the board: “Our children, along with the other students attending VASD schools, are the answer to the question, ‘Why are you interested in serving on the school board?’ I believe the time is right for me to get more involved with serving the community, and participating in the process of ensuring that every student in our school district succeeds.”

Jim Ruder

Occupation: Youth mentor, Trail Head Counseling and Mentoring Services

Experience with education: Retired charter school director at New Century School and special education coordinator at Sugar Creek Elementary, ran for At-Large seat in 2017

Interest in the board: “As a board member, I would work diligently and use the district’s strategic plan pillars to guide decisions to support the mission of Every Student Must Be Successful.”

Leotha Stanley

Occupation: Employment specialist and fatherhood program coordinator at Urban League of Greater Madison

Experience with education: Former substitute teacher and attendance coordinator at VAHS, assistant to the University of Wisconsin-Madison director for community relations and vocal music ensemble instructor at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Interest in the board: “Be advised, that I am interested in making sure students have an opportunity to un-tap their potential. Being a part of this board will allow me to be in the room to help facilitate options to minimize any barriers and offer hope as students matriculate from kindergarten to graduation.”

Kalyanna Williams

Occupation: Faculty associate at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Experience with education: Youth mentor and founder of Madison-based Dear Diary, after school teacher

Interest in the board: “I am committed to the development and implementation of initiatives, programming, systems and policies that tackle barriers that hinder students from succeeding in their goals and their future, while promoting Verona Area School District’s mission that every student must be successful.”

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.