As we move closer to June, our community is gearing up to launch another class of graduating seniors into the world. It is an inspiring time of joy and celebration of their hard work and achievements, as well as a time of encouragement as we witness their hopes and dreams for their futures spring into action. This year in particular, is also a time of stark contrast, as fear and uncertainty are also looming, with one last chance for our community to come together on May 16th to ensure that our schools, educators, and students have the necessary funding to support a safe and well-rounded education experience filled with art, music, clubs, sports, PE, career tech classes, advanced learning opportunities, school resource officers, nurses, properly maintained facilities, and so much more.  

Our community has a long history of supporting our educational system. Over the next few weeks, my hope is to use this column to demonstrate how education is VITAL to our businesses, trades, and the overall economic prosperity of our region. My friend, Heidi, had an idea to share personal stories from business and community leaders that inspire our community to step up emphatically to ensure a thriving educational system for years to come.  

I loved her idea and so I am starting with me. 

I AM a proud product of Coeur d’Alene School District #271. My story unfolded during the 1970’s – 1980’s  in our public schools: Winton Elementary, Lakes Jr. High, and Coeur d’Alene High School.  My wonderful teachers, administrators, coaches, and advisors ALL played a crucial role in helping to shape me into the person I am today. My mom, Karen (former teacher and principal in #271), and my older sister, Ann (former teacher and volunteer extraordinaire in #271) helped me develop a sense of curiosity and love for learning at a very early age. Both continue to fuel me today in my work as a business and community leader.  

Some of the jewels I was blessed to gather along the way…I developed healthy living habits and how to be a great team player in the swim team, gymnastics, track, softball, and cheerleading.  I fell in love with math in Mr. Webster’s 6th grade Einstein’s advanced learning math class. I learned how to set goals/reach for the stars in both sports and academics. Mr. Brumley taught me the importance of integrity and accountability through serving as his office aide at Lakes. I learned how to be an impactful writer in Mrs. Bieber’s sophomore English class.  I cultivated strong leadership skills and learned how to be a good friend through sports, ASB, the National Honor Society, and other school clubs. I developed a passion for marketing, communications, and business through Mr. Herr’s DECA program. ALL these skills and so many more I use daily in my job as the President and CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber. I can’t imagine what my school experience would have been like without those opportunities.

You see, education is not just about reading, writing, math, science, and history; it is so much more. A strong educational system (early childhood through higher education and trade schools, including both public and private) plays a CRITICAL role in driving business and trade success as well as economic prosperity in our region. It is the core curriculum AND the diverse experiences that create a well-educated workforce, which is essential for businesses and trades to succeed in today’s competitive and constantly evolving economy. A strong educational system is crucial for the economic growth and development of our beloved community.

On May 16, you have the opportunity to SAY YES to our students who ARE our future business and community leaders.  If you are looking for ways to give back to the community or would like to be involved with the Chamber, click here. We have many exciting opportunities coming up!

Our mission is truly our members. We are the voice of business and would love to have you join us:

Mayor Hammond Address – Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Coeur d’Alene Resort,  11 AM – 1 PM

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to enjoy lunch with the community of Coeur d’Alene and hear from our city’s leader. To register, click here.

Kootenai County Commissioners Breakfast – Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Best Western Plus Coeur d’Alene Inn, 7 AM – 9 AM

Join us for an update from our Kootenai County commissioners: Bill Brooks, Bruce Mattare, and Leslie Duncan! Sign up here.