School Boards in Action: 5 Questions with Hope Bjerke

Hope Bjerke, board member, Junction Elementary School District

What did your district do to foster learning recovery and educational advancements during the 2021–22 school year? What do you have planned for the 2022–23 school year to continue this progress?

During June 2021, we invited our students to attend a summer academy at Junction. The turn-out was huge and we had to recruit several more of our teachers to handle the high enrollment. The focus was on projects for the students where they had to use their math, science, writing and teamwork skills to complete the projects. During the 202122 school year we had after-school tutoring for students who were getting behind, our book club increased their activities for the kids, and Junction Education Foundation (JEF) bought all of the books the children read.

What summer extended learning opportunity programs is your district offering?

This June 2022, we are continuing the summer school academy we started last summer, and enrollment is high again.

Please describe the current morale in your district. What is the board doing to improve or maintain it?

Morale at Junction is quite high due to the cooperative spirit we have been able to build with our teachers and staff. We raised salaries for all of our employees, JEF sponsored several awesome activities for the staff and students, like the Color Fun Run and the Bike to School events. We had the best Staff Appreciation Week ever, and the community has let the school know they support Junction School 100 percent. At our Moonlight Soiree in April, JEF was able to raise $43,000 with the help of our staff and community for funding during the 202223 school year.

What are some ways the district is sharing positive news and/or support with families and the community?

We make almost daily posting on our Facebook page about the good things that are happening at the school. Our principal, Chris Nelson, does an “all-call” every Sunday evening to keep families informed about upcoming events and to brag about all the good things that have happened during the last several weeks. He always encourages parents to become more involved and they do. We also have a website where the district office keeps events and offerings updated and encourages parents to complete the surveys that were sent out so we can do an even better job of meeting student needs.

Please share a little about the pets you have at home.

My husband Dave and I have three cats, two dogs, two horses, and about 40 cattle at our Spring Hill Ranch. Dave is in charge of the horses and cattle. I take care of my cats and dogs. They are all rescue animals and I support SNAP [Spay, Neuter and Protect] in Palo Cedro regularly. My cats sleep in our bed at night and they have secret hiding places where they sleep or hang out during the day. They have their own bathroom where they eat, drink and do their cat box business. Of course, I clean their area daily. The dogs think this is their house and they act like they own it. But the cats are really in charge but just keep this fact to themselves. We love all of our animals. Our children and grandchildren all live on the East Coast except for one daughter who lives in Portland, Oregon. So, we get our love and snuggles mostly from our pets.