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Sickmiller Selected to Fill Cook’s School Board Seat

April 30, 2014
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The Plymouth School Board voted unanimously on April 29 to fill a Board vacancy with Plymouth native Jennifer (Anspach) Sickmiller. Sickmiller replaces former Board member Gary Cook. Cook resigned to take a position with security for the school corporation earlier this month. School employees are not allowed to hold a seat on the Board.

Sickmiller’s first public official responsibilities start in less than a week when the Board meets for a regular session on May 6. Following the announcement that she would be joining the Board, Sickmiller said, “The minute I heard Gary Cook was resigning his position, something clicked in my head. I knew at that moment that this was something I wanted to pursue.” She added, “I’m very involved with Menominee Elementary School PTO organization, and I will continue to do so. This just seemed like the natural move for me.”

The Board held a special session on April 17 when they interviewed four candidates for the empty seat, including Sickmiller. Following Cook’s resignation, the Board asked potential candidates to submit letters of interest.

Candidates were asked a series of questions during the interview session including, but not limited to, their vision for the schools, goals that they might have already, how they would handle controversial issues, and if they would be available for Board training.

Sickmiller and her husband Jeremy graduated from Plymouth High School

in 1995 and both went on to graduate from Purdue University. They have a

son, Leo, who is first grade at Menominee Elementary and a daughter

Marcy, who will start kindergarten in the fall. Sickmiller

said, “I have a vested interest in the Plymouth Schools seeing as my two

children will be attending for the next 12 years. It is not only my children,

 but my friend’s children, the neighbor’s children or any child who attends

the Plymouth Schools.”

Sickmiller has been with the Plymouth Parks and Recreation Department as Office Manager for the past ten years. During her interview, Sickmiller said, “I have had a lot of experience with boards and budgets.” Responding to Board questions, Sickmiller said, “I am not coming in with an agenda to change anything.” 

Plymouth Schools Superintendent Daniel Tyree said, “There were four really good candidates. I know it made it difficult for the Board to make a decision.” Other candidates included Tony Gamble, Michael Clary and Paul Murasko. During the interviews, Board President Todd Samuelson said, “We are always looking for people to support kids whether it’s on this side of the table or the other side.”  Gamble Clary and Murasko volunteer in a number of areas for the school corporation such as Band Boosters, coaching elementary school basketball, and sitting on various committees.

Tyree said, “I’m sure the Board was impressed with her (Sickmiller) enthusiasm during her interview.” Sickmiller said, “I can see and feel passion my fellow School Board members have for the Plymouth School Corporation. I share that passion and I am so privileged, honored and excited to being this new journey.“ Tyree said he thinks that having someone with young children in the schools will help round out the Board.

Sickmiller gives a great deal of credit to her parents for her desire to help her community. She said, “My parents, Sally and Doug Anspach, have instilled in me a solid foundation of community service. Some of my earliest memories are of my brother, Doug, and I helping my father with his various clubs and organizations.” “My parents have always taught my brother and I to have the confidence in ourselves to try and do anything we want. I this case, their valuable life lessons have paid off and I’m beyond thrilled.” She said.

Filling a vacated seat after a resignation falls on the shoulders of the remaining Board members. In the event that there had been a tie, the final decision would have been made by Marshall County Circuit Court Judge Curt Palmer.

Carol Anders Correspondent

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