GILLETTE, Wyo. — Election season is well underway and County 17 has sent a list of questions to each candidate who has filed to run for office in contested races.
These questions are designed to give our readers a better understanding of the people behind the names on the ballot. All candidate responses submitted to County 17 are republished as they are received. County 17 solely made minor edits to the responses, for clarity. Minor edits may include correcting punctuation, capitalization or spelling.
Below, get to know Rollo Williams, who is running for a spot on the Campbell County School District Board of Trustees:
- Please introduce yourself and describe your educational and employment history. Please include your name and hometown along with highlights of your past involvement in the Campbell County community.
I am Rollo Williams. I was born and raised in Huntington, Ind. I am retired now but was an educator for a total of 42 years, 10 in Indiana and 32 in CCSD, in Gillette, Wyoming. I served on the Gillette Parks and Beautification Board for many years and have put in many, many hours volunteering around the community, including the Trash-a-thon, Soup Kitchen and the NHSFR to name a few. I also was involved in Mallo Camp, our 5th-grade Environmental Camp for 25 years. My sons are products of Campbell County School District. They both graduated from the University of Wyoming. Dusty, my older son, is a captain and flies for FedEx in Europe. Nate, my younger son, is a mechanical engineer and works in Sheridan, Wyoming. They got an excellent education from Campbell County School District.
2. What prompted your decision to run for school board? What do you have to offer the community as a board member? What do you believe your role is as a board member?
Working for the CCSD when my family and I moved here in 1974, I have always known that Gillette was a special place for me and my family. The opportunity for students to get an excellent education is in this school district. I want to make sure that this opportunity continues to be available to our students. My decision on the Board is to always focus on what is best for all K-12 students.
3. How do you propose Campbell County School District attract and retain quality educators and other staff, given employee shortages? How can board members help provide an environment in which employees can thrive?
As long as we have the excellent school district we have now, I believe teachers will be attracted to our community. We have provided beautiful schools and adequate classroom space for teachers to teach in and thrive, plus many additional facilities that many other districts do not have. I believe our community has always been a very welcoming place that would encourage new educators to want to work here.
4. What does a successful school district look like?
I strongly believe a successful school district looks exactly like CCSD. This school district has always had the reputation of being a “lighthouse” district. It doesn’t mean we are perfect. What it does mean is we are always working to make it better. We have a STEM facility that is available to our students plus STEM classrooms in our schools. How about an outstanding planetarium that is a first-class facility? We offer a hands-on science center (Einstein’s Adventurarium) to our students. Extracurricular facilities that are excellent are available to those students who choose to participate. It means an Administration that supports the teaching and support staff, which in turn benefits the students in all our classrooms. It involves a community that becomes involved with CCSD and their students’ education. Excellent teachers=students that can and want to learn.
5. What does the school district administration do well?
I want to believe that our district administration listens to teacher and staff concerns and if necessary takes those concerns and turns them into positive solutions.
6. How has education impacted your life?
I come from a family of eight siblings. I knew at an early age that continuing my education was important. Coming from a family that did not have a whole lot, other than each other, an education was my opportunity to be successful in life. It has proven to be a great career path for me and my family. Gillette, Wyoming, was the place that offered me the opportunity to pursue most of that career.
7. What advice would you offer parents of school-aged children to empower students in their learning?
I cannot state how important it is for all parents to instill the value of an education in their children, starting at an early age. A love of learning and a solid education provides each child with the necessary tools he/she needs to pursue whatever they choose to do in life. When a child enters that classroom at the beginning of each day they should be excited and know it is going to be a great day. The parents and teacher are instrumental in creating that atmosphere. It is also important for parents to talk about their child’s experience at the end of each school day.
8. What lessons did our school district community learn from the COVID-19 pandemic? How will you help the school district’s efforts to recover the academic losses associated with the pandemic?
I am so thankful that CCSD and the state of Wyoming looked at COVID-19 through a different pair of eyes than most of the rest of the country. Politics pretty much stayed out of how we were going to travel down this road. Our online learning was kept to a minimum, and as soon as we felt it was safe to get students back into the classroom, we did. Mask mandates were kept to a minimum. In hindsight, I feel our district did an excellent job of handling this serious situation. It is very difficult to tell just how much our students suffered from the pandemic. However, with an excellent teaching staff, our students will recover and move forward in their education.
9. Should the school board promote more community involvement? If so, how? If not, why not?
The school board must always be transparent with the community. A community and school board working together is a win-win combination. Taking the pulse of our community when there is a problem and reaching a solution together makes our school district better and stronger. It does not mean that everyone will agree with the outcome. However, open discussion and a consensus usually is the best solution.
10. Is there anything else voters should know about you and your perspective?
I have always felt that CCSD is an excellent school district and have taught with many outstanding teachers, staff and administrators. My objective is to work hard to continue this goal of offering our students an excellent education. I love this community and have chosen to retire here. I would greatly appreciate your vote on Tuesday, November 8. THANK YOU.