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Bob Garry ends 20-year school board run

GRANADA — Bob Garry recently ended a 20-year run on the Granada-Huntley-East Chain (GHEC) School Board. A former Granda-Huntley student himself, and a former math teacher whose own four children also attended, Garry reflected on his time in an interview with Superintendent Doug Storbeck.

“I’ve lived in the district my whole life on the farm,” he said. “I went from Kindergarten to 12th Grade and graduated from Granada-Huntley in 1978. In the Second Grade, we had a school fire, so we spent about half a year in the bus shed until the remodeling was completed.

Garry shared that he wasn’t initially sure about joining the board.

“My neighbor who was also a school board member at that time convinced me to file. I was very hesitant at first like I think everybody is. I got elected and have been here since.”

Noting his initial hesitancy, Garry stated that it took his first term to find his comfort level. He states he decided to run again after his first four years because he felt it was important to be involved.

When Storbeck asked about the most challenging part of being a school board member, Garry said it was simply a matter of time to get used to the position.

“There’s different phases of your terms,” he said. “At first you depend on the ones that have been there for a while to get you broke in. Then after a while, you become the elder of the group and become a leader.

“As far as a challenge, there’s learning to read people and getting to know what their needs are.” Garry noted that money was often short in his earlier years.

“We did a lot of cutting of different positions. We were close to being in a negative fund balance, so a change had to be made.

“We eventually decided to close one building and move everything here to Granada. We had to build on, and we needed to bond to do that. We needed to build the gymnasium and classrooms, but that was a good, fun, and successful challenge.”

Gary notes that he credits other board members and voters for getting the necessary bonds to make those changes.

When asked about other memories, Garry noted the 2009 Basketball team’s winning of the State Title.

“I had two boys on that team, so I was pretty attached to the season,” he said. “I won’t say it was a one-time shot, but we went all-in on that one. The people, the fans, parents, coaches were all supportive of it. It was a big commitment from all the coaches, and that was a pretty exciting day that day.”

Garry also shared that his time on the board changed his perspective on the district’s operations.

“It’s different when you’re in the district making the decisions than being in the district without an official decision. Once you get into where your decision is what happens, you look a little harder. You look for facts, not just talk and you take it a lot more seriously.”

When asked about the important qualities of a school board member, Garry notes that working with others is key.

“You have to be able to work with people, to be open and discuss things,” he said. “If it’s not always your way, you accept those things. There are five other board members and administration, so it’s important to have discussions, but if it’s not going your way you need to accept that.

“You learn to grow and mature with your experiences, just like raising a family.

“I’m leaving in a positive atmosphere, and that’s satisfying to know. I think we have a great staff, administration, and board members who work together well.

“I’ve been fortunate to have quality administration and board members to work with, and the voters who believe in our district have been generous. I don’t know of a day that I regretted being here. It was a good 20 years.”

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