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By Carol Stiffler

Local realtor and appraiser Kristine McCraren was appointed to the Tahquamenon Area Schools Board of Education at a special meeting held on December 2. She takes over a vacancy left behind after former board president Brian Rahilly resigned.

Rahilly has been elected to serve as 11th Circuit Court judge starting in January, and cannot hold two elected positions. McCraren will serve as trustee, not board president. The board will select a new president in January.

Fellow candidate Alicia Heim was also considered for the position. The board gave numerical scores to Heim and McCraren after reviewing their responses to written and spoken questions, and McCraren ranked higher. Heim was encouraged to submit a letter of interest again in January when the board seeks to fill another vacancy.

McCraren was born and raised in lower Michigan, then lived in Tucson, Arizona for 20 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing, and additional college experience in landscape architecture and interior design.

She moved to Newberry in 2015 after learning about a need for appraisers in the area. Though McCraren doesn’t have children, her boyfriend has three students at TAS and McCraren has experience working with elementary and high school students from her time spent in Tucson.

She served there as marketing chair for an integrative school for children with speech difficulties, and the school focused on getting students to want to learn.

“I think that’s really what we need to find,” she said. “A balance between standards and creating an environment where they really want to be there and learn.”

McCraren said she had wanted to become involved in the community for a while. “I have been looking for the right opportunity,” she said.

She was in the audience of a recent TAS school board meeting – when the board voted to send students to virtual learning until the end of Christmas break – and was concerned about that decision. “I want kids in school,” she said.

McCraren hopes more people will step up to help the district, whether on the board or serving as substitute teachers. “There are no substitute teachers,” she said. “There is a huge need for that.”