Jennifer Lohnes – Incumbent Candidate for Ritenour Board

Jennifer Lohnes - Incumbent Candidate for Ritenour Board

Leanna Duncan, Staff Reporter


  • Describe yourself in 5 words or less.

Passionate, Listener, Dedicated, Respectful, Team-Player

  • How are you connected to the district?

I’ve grown up in the Ritenour School District.  My husband Art and I decided to buy our home here because we both grew up in the area and love the people and the diversity. I have 2 girls who started school at the Early Childhood Center when they were 3 years old and before that, we were a part of the Parents as Teachers.  When they started elementary school at Marion, Art and I started volunteering at the school anywhere they needed us.  I helped on PTO and then became president of the PTO.  Art volunteered in the morning on crosswalk duty to help the staff.  The role of the president was not to do all the work but to bring families together and help them feel comfortable to be involved with the school for their kids. Our whole family believes in service to our community and we love to work for all the kids. That is why in 2016 I decided to run for the Board of Education for the first time..

  • What are some pressing issues you think this district is currently facing?

There are a few issues that I see are the most pressing right now. The most important would be having the best supports in place for our students.  Students have had a hard two years.  It’s not just Ritenour. Many school districts are facing similar issues. We need to ensure students are getting the assistance they need to be successful.  This could be academic support or emotional support. The district has hired additional staff including interventionists and counselors to focus on the whole student. I believe putting these additional supports in place will help to elevate Ritenour’s academics and help students get back on track. I also believe we need to incorporate additional supports for our families. While we are supporting the student, we need to reach out to our families to partner together for the success of the student.

Speaking to the support of our students, it’s also important to recognize that adding the above-mentioned additional staff also supports our teachers. Many teachers are being stretched to help out other teachers. With the shortage of substitutes, teachers are covering classes during their plan time or pulling additional students into their classrooms. The additional staff helps to reduce this strain on the teachers.

  • What is something the current board has done well?

The board today works well together and has very open discussions. When presentations are brought to us by the Superintendent and the administration, we ask questions and provide guidance to ensure we are making informed decisions. Also, the board is very diligent and responsible with the budget. I know the budget is not something fun to talk about, but it really is the backbone of everything in the school district. We have worked very hard to stabilize the budget. This ensures we will have funding to hire the best teachers, we can keep our buildings running, we can have programs for ALL students, we can expand our reach with projects such as the Husky Health Center, the Husky Support Center, our own buses, and much more. Additionally, the board has done a great job of developing and incorporating the Equity Statement into Ritenour. The Equity Statement really outlines how every student deserves a great education and every student should have the resources they need to be successful.  (If you have not really read the Equity Statement word for word, please do. Mission, Vision, Values & Equity Statement / Equity Statement ( I’m proud to have been a part of the development of this.)

  • What do you see as the responsibility of a board member to the student body?

The board’s responsibility to students is to provide an environment where all students feel excited about learning.  Kids should always be the focus when decisions are being made. It is the responsibility of the board to always ask the question, “How will this help or affect the students?”  Whether the focus is around academics, safety, technology, programs, etc., it is the responsibility of each board member to do their research and make the best decisions for each student from Pre-K through 12th Grade. 

It is also their responsibility to know the students being represented.  Just like teachers have to know their students in order to teach the best for them, board members should know the students they represent to make the best decisions for them.

It’s also good to ask the opinions of the students. I’m very excited we were able to add the Student Representative to the board. The last two Student Reps have been great at providing feedback from the student perspective. 

  • What do you value most about the educators in the district?

I believe Ritenour has the best educators. You can honestly see how much they care for each student and want to make an impact on them. I had a teacher tell me one time, “I wish the students understood I chose them.” You can see the joy and excitement they get when a student has success and growth. To them, the students are not just a number passing through. The students are their “Why”. The educators put everything into not just growing the academic side of a student. They are truly invested in the whole student. The other thing I love about the Ritenour Educators is their creativeness. They are always looking for ways to improve their teaching. They know not every student is the same and they have to be creative in order to reach each student. 

  • Why are you running?  Why should people vote for you?

I’m running because I’m not done working for the kids. I have met many amazing kids and heard just as many amazing stories. I’m inspired every time I meet a new student and hear what their dreams are or hear what challenges they have overcome. I want to make sure each and every student has every opportunity to live out their dreams and hopes. I want them to be proud they are a part of Ritenour.

As I stated before, the last two years have been hard on students and school districts. I want to work together with everyone to find solutions to support students. I want to inspire students to be their best. I want to encourage teachers to drive their passion on their “Why”. I want to engage families and the community in the amazingness which is Ritenour. I believe people will vote for me because of my dedication to Ritenour students and my passion for every one of them to have the best opportunities. My goals are built around supporting each and every individual student making sure they have the resources they need to be successful.

  • If elected, how would you incorporate your voice amongst the current board members?

I believe in being respectful and listening. It’s important to have a voice, but it’s even more important to listen to others. The third part of the puzzle is to be informed and really understand how decisions will affect the students/teachers/families/community. When teams work together, the best solutions can be created. Ultimately, the board work is always about what is best for students.