After serving 16 years on the Fort Mill School District Board of Trustees, Wyndie Havnaer decided not to seek re-election in November.
“It has just gotten to be a labor of love and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but after 16 years it’s time for some new blood,” Havnaer said.
Three other incumbents – Patrick White, Wayne Bouldin and Diane Dasher – did file to run for new terms and two past candidates, Michele Branning and Brian Boyd, as well as a first-time candidate, John Petzel, are also running for school board. Voting is at-large and the top four vote-getters win.
Havnaer’s first campaign was in 1998 after receiving encouragement from friends. Her children were all recent graduates of Fort Mill High, and she felt serving on the board was one way to show her appreciation to the school district.
“I have a degree in education so I’ve always been a supporter of public education and I just wanted to do some service to our community,” Havnaer said. “Our community had given so much to me and my family and I just wanted to give back to it.”
Campaigning in 1998 was easier than it is now, Havnaer said, because the community was still fairly small. With less than half the residents than there are now, she said like she felt she knew just about everyone and all she needed was about 15 signs and some word of mouth. To run now requires investing more more in signs and other advertising, she said.
During her four terms on the board, Havnaer saw the district grow from five schools to 15.
“Now we’ve got more teachers in one school than we had (in the district) when we first moved here,” Havnaer said. “I think one important thing is the school district has tried to keep the family atmosphere and so far they’ve managed to do that even with the amount of growth that we’ve had.”
Havnaer said she is proud to have worked with the school board on a 10-year building plan and the district’s financial plan, both of which helped accommodate for the increase in the student population. She hopes her work on the board helped to maintain the high quality of the district for her grandchildren who attend Fort Mill schools.
“I definitely wanted to make sure that their education was kept at the level that my children’s was,” Havnaer said.
Positions on the board of trustees are unpaid, but to Havnaer, helping the community was more than enough.
“Every year when I go to a high school graduation and see all those successful kids, that’s a paycheck right there,” Havnaer said. “Walking through our schools and seeing kids engaged in all sorts of activities and the great teachers and staff we have, that’s the paycheck right there.”
During the years, Havnaer worked with around 20 members on the school board.
“They need a new rookie in there every now and then, and new ideas,” Havnaer said. “We’ve got so many people coming into the community that can share some new things. It was just time (to step down).”