ESCANABA - Clyde "Jed" Gagnier became one of the youngest members of the Escanaba Area Public Schools Board of Education when he was elected in 2011; since that time he has been learning the ropes and has settled into his new position.
Gagnier was elected to the school board at age 18 in May 2011 - prior to beginning his senior year at Escanaba High School. He was selected to fill a four-year term as one of two write-in candidates.
Now having nearly two years of experience serving on the school board, Gagnier has most recently been selected as the board treasurer this year, and feels he's gotten the hang of things.
"A lot of things have become easier," said Gagnier. "I've learned kind of the lay of the land. I'm more used to things now."
Gagnier, who was born in Oregon City, Ore., moved with his family to the area when he was 2 to be closer to other relatives. He previously said he was drawn to the school board position because he cares about his school district and due to his interest in American politics and history.
Following graduation from Escanaba High School, Gagnier has been a full-time student at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, where he has been studying pre-law and political science.
However, he does travel back to Escanaba for school board meetings and to visit on the weekends.
He also takes classes through the Michigan Association of School Boards, where he serves on the association's resolutions and bylaws committee.
Gagnier said the classes he's taken on finances and school law through the MASB have been helpful in understanding topics such as legal problems and budgets.
"Our biggest issue almost every year is money," noted Gagnier, adding the biggest problem facing the district is how to spend money while retaining the best programs for Escanaba Area Public Schools.
His favorite part of the job so far?
"For me, my favorite part was honors night and graduation because I got to hand out scholarships ... and diplomas to my classmates and friends," he said.
Gagnier's original term was set to expire in 2015, but new state laws have changed school board terms so they end on even years. Because of this, four board members including him, have had their terms extended. His term now expires on Dec. 31, 2016; Gagnier said he probably will not seek another term after his current one expires as he plans to either enter the work force or go to law school at either the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, or the University of Oregon - in the state where he was born.
But until then, he continues to enjoy serving the district as a member of the school board.
"Serving on the school board has exceeded all my expectations," said Gagnier. "There have been some hard times, but there's also been some fun times and I really enjoy it."