by Dennis Dalman
With four children attending four different school buildings in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District, Patricia “Tricia” Meling said she is well qualified to become a new member of the school board.
Meling is one of four candidates vying for three open seats on the school board in the Nov. 3 election. Two of the seats were occupied by Lesa Kramer and Pam Raden, who both chose not to file for re-election. The other position is served by incumbent Jason Nies, who did file for re-election. The other two candidates are Taryn Gentile and Matthew Moehrle.
The Sartell Newsleader asked the candidates many school-board related questions. Meling gave the following responses:
Describing herself as a “stay-at-home mom,” Meling and her husband, Shaun Meling, are the parents of five children: Nolan, 12; Liam, 10; Grayson, 8; Emma, 4; and Asher, 2.
Meling has a communications degree from the College of St. Benedict. She also has teacher training through the Barton Training Program through Level 7. “Barton” is a tutoring program in which specially trained tutors work to help students with dyslexia learn spelling, reading and writing skills.
“I am a full-time parent to my five children, fully invested in their education,” she said. “I do my best to maintain strong communication for all of my children at the multiple (school) buildings they attend.” Her oldest child, Nolan, is a seventh-grader at Sartell Middle School; Liam is a fifth-grader at Riverview Intermediate School; Grayson is a second-grader at Pine Meadow Primary School; and Emma is a pre-schooler at Oak Ridge Early Learning Center. The youngest child, Asher, 2, often attends the school district’s Early Childhood Family Education program.
Since 2009, Meling has been a member of the Sartell Mothers of Preschoolers group, serving as its co-director for two years. She currently serves on the Sartell/Sauk Rapids MOMS Club Board as membership VIP for the last two years.
Meling said she has both the drive and the time commitment to ensure that not only her children but all children in the district have an “amazing education experience.”
“With four kids in four different buildings, I understand the pulse of our schools, and I want to continue to ensure our schools are excellent,” she said. “I have the desire to serve our community. Being at home affords me the time to fully invest myself in the daily activities the school board demands. I love hearing differing viewpoints and perspectives to further my understanding of topics to widen my view.”
Meling said she is confident and grateful the school district has taken a holistic approach to coping with the pandemic by using guidelines proposed by the Minnesota Health Department and the National Centers for Disease Control.
“I agree our youngest learners need to be in person as much as possible,” she said. “I feel the district has considered and addressed all health concerns to ensure our kids’ and staff’s safety first while also ensuring the quality education we expect in this district. I’d just want to continue to ensure our staff has good support and resources to make sure they have what they need to provide the in-person/hybrid/distance-learning options.
Meling said she is very much in favor of student-equity efforts and the need for an equity audit to be done so a plan of action can be formulated.
“A plan,” she said, “would include effective training for staff to recognize and help improve equity for all. Also, it could make sure that all involved have been heard and all issues addressed.”
Meling’s passion, she said, is to do what’s right for students, staff and the community.
“Maintaining positive relationships with our community and doing my best to keep our board fiscally responsible are very important,” Meling said. “As a mother of five, I hope to help streamline the communication more fully. I want to be as transparent as possible and make sure the community feels they have all the information they need.”