Wanda Lee Suits
After 24 years of service on the Montague Area Schools Board of Education, Wanda Lee Suits has presided over her last meeting.
On Monday, Dec. 10, Suits led the board through her last meeting, as her term is now up. Suits ran against current board member Blair Moreau and Michael Moore II for one of the two open seats. Moore and Moreau won the two seats.
Suits was first elected to the MAPS board in 1988. According to Suits, she first decided to run for a MAPS board seat because there were no women on the board.
“It’s important that women have a voice,” Suits said.
She also had been involved as a parent on a committee to improve the schools, where the elementary school was the main focus. The committee was looking at either building a new school, or renovating the old one, but the group didn’t have much success.
“I wanted to be part of the solution,” Suits said.
Suits won a seat on the MAPS board, and served for much of her adult life.
As part of the board, Suits was involved with many district changes, and one of her proudest moments was helping upgrade the schools.
When Suits took her position on the MAPS board in 1988, the school only had two computers, and both were for middle school teachers, not students. Suits’ husband was working for a phone company, and noticed that the future of technology was in computers. Soon, not only did every school in the MAPS district have computers, but enough for the students to use, too.
Another huge addition to the schools that Suits was part of was the new high school auditorium.
“For a school district of our size, we’re blessed to have an auditorium like that,” Suits said.
David Vermeulen, a MAPS teacher and Montague Teachers Education Association (MTEA) president, said that Suits has helped MAPS through many challenges, including numerous bond issues and building projects, and always put the students first.
“Lee has brought keen insight and patient deliberation to the many issues facing Montague Schools and Michigan’s public schools and on behalf of the Montague Teachers Education Association, we thank Lee for her leadership,” Vermeulen said.
According to current Superintendent Nate Robrahn, Suits job as board president was not something she did, it was something she lived.
“Her commitment to education goes far beyond the bounds of the classroom,” Robrahn said. “Lee doesn’t just desire for kids to feel welcome at MAPS, she wants them to belong.”
Former MAPS Superintendent Jim Booth worked with Suits for the nine years he served as MAPS superintendent. He said Suits willingly gave her own time to attend to the business of the district, to participate in training to improve her leadership skills and to be present during many extracurricular events in support of students, Booth said, who has retired to North Carolina.
“After spending 40 years in public education, I can truly say that Lee Suits’ commitment and service to our schools and community was second to none,” Booth said.
In honor of Suits’ service, the MTEA and Montague Education Support Personnel Association are donating a display for housing students’ written expression in the Crescent Room, which serves as the lobby to the high school auditorium.
As for the future of the MAPS board, Suits said she hopes that the board remembers that over 50 percent of students have free and reduced lunches.
“I believe in the public school system,” Suits said. “It’s a way out of poverty.”
Suits said she will continue to be involved with the schools, as she is so proud to have served the community and does not want to give it up.
“I will be there, maybe in a different way, because I feel so strongly about the schools,” Suits said.