12 Candidates Vie For AW Board Of Education

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — A dozen candidates are now certified to run for four open positions on the Anthony Wayne Board of Education.

Three are running for one unexpired term ending on December 31, 2025: incumbent Troy Lutz and challengers Michelle Ross and Mike Stamm. Nine candidates are running for three four-year terms ending on December 31, 2027, including incumbents Jeff Baden, Pam Brint and Jayna Gwin along with challengers Amy Barrett, Sarah Bellner, Frank Dudas, Lindsay Hoipkemier, Shellie McKnight and Jim Schlievert.

The Mirror asked these candidates to share what they bring to the table and how they plan to represent all members of the community and work with other board members who might share different viewpoints. 

This is the first in a series of articles about Anthony Wayne-area candidates which will be posted through the election here on The Mirror’s website.

Two-Year Term Candidates

Troy Lutz was first appointed to the board in April 2021 when 20-year board member Doug Zimmerman moved out of the district. Lutz lost the November 2021 election by a coin toss to Andrew Prine but was re-appointed in June 2022 when Prine moved out of the state.

“I am running for school board so that I can give back to the community that’s been so good to me and my family,” said Lutz. “I’m a believer in the AW district and the great education and experience the district provides. I want to help ensure this continues.”

Lutz has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Michigan State University and an MBA from the University of Findlay. For 30 years, he has worked in the industrial and automotive industry and is currently executive director of pricing for a Tier 1 global automotive components supplier. 

“With both an engineering and business degree, I’d like to think that I bring a matter-of-fact set of professional experiences that keeps me focused on goals and results,” he said.

His experience on the board has been invaluable, he said, giving him insight into working with members of the community and board.

“I start by listening and trying to understand everyone’s viewpoints. If we can find solutions that satisfy everyone’s needs, we should do that,” he said. “When we can’t, we need to seek the best solution that keeps the quality of education in the forefront while providing a safe environment for students, staff and administrators. I apply the same approach when working with board members with different viewpoints.”

A Monclova Township resident, Lutz is married to Elizabeth, and they have three children: two who graduated from Anthony Wayne and another who is a junior.

“I am interested in our community and making it a better place. I believe in continuous learning, love sports and spending time with my family,” he said.

Michelle Ross is running for school board to preserve the quality of the Anthony Wayne community and to fulfill a desire to help kids thrive both now and in their futures.

“Having lived in the district for over 23 years while my two children attended AW from kindergarten through graduation, I can honestly say I love this district, my community and the people therein,” she said in an announcement.

Her goals as a board member include ensuring students are future-ready with both the hard and soft skills to become successful adults; protecting the integrity of the district and community by providing open and transparent communication with staff and community; fiscal responsibility; high moral standards; and providing for children both physically and emotionally with proper protection and enforceable policies.

A Leadership Toledo graduate, Ross has a B.A. from Bowling Green State University and expects to finish an M.A. in executive consulting and coaching from Concordia University by February.

For 30 years, she has owned and operated several property acquisition and management businesses, including one that she co-founded with her late husband. For 20 years, Ross has led Bible studies and retreats. She volunteers with Cherry Street Ministries and has served as a board member or volunteer with several other nonprofits in the Toledo area. She currently serves on the Monclova Township Board of Zoning Appeals.

“I interact with college-age students and career-starting adults consistently and understand where the holes are in their education,” she noted.

Ross said she believes communication and transparency are the key elements of success.

“I am not attempting to be a board member to change other people’s views nor allow others to bully me into changing my own. As a board member, my job is to listen and consider all viewpoints respectfully and make informed decisions for the best long-term result for the kids, families and community members of Anthony Wayne,” she said.

In her spare time, Ross enjoys reading, crochet, hiking, playing the cello, hanging out with AW-area parents and relaxing along the Maumee River or near Lake Erie.

Mike Stamm wants to take politics out of the schools and focus on a curriculum that teaches children how to think, not what to think.

“My goal is to improve our excellent school system, focusing on the areas of academic excellence, school pride, transparency in spending and parental engagement,” he said. “I want to ensure that all students have the best opportunities to become highly functioning members of our community.”

Stamm, along with his wife Kristen, moved to the district a decade ago to be close to family and to enroll their children in the Anthony Wayne district. The family consists of Cayman, a freshman, seventh-grader Kobe and fifth-grader Cassady. Kristen serves at Anthony Wayne junior high as a special education aide. Their children are involved in sports and the arts. Cayman, despite being born with CHARGE syndrome and facing daunting predictions about her future abilities, has remarkably defied all odds by doing things doctors said were not possible. She is one of Stamm’s heroes. 

“As a board member, I will be in a unique position to understand and advocate for all students at Anthony Wayne, especially for those with special needs.” he said.

A degree in electrical and computer engineering from The Ohio State University and experience as a project engineer have given him an acute understanding of budgets, timelines and team dynamics, Stamm said. He believes these skills will be effective in addressing educational challenges, emphasizing fiscal responsibility, communication and problem-solving.

In addressing conflicting viewpoints, Stamm said he starts with respect, trust and goodwill; works to find common ground; and looks for a win-win solution in every situation.

“The aim is to build a board culture where res-pectful disagreement can lead to more thoughtful and effective board policies. It’s a team effort,” he said.

Beyond his professional commitments, Stamm coaches, referees and loves spending time with his family. A devoted member of CedarCreek Church in Whitehouse, Stamm has served in the children’s ministry for nearly a decade.

“I am dedicated and committed to the next generation,” he said.

Four-Year Term Candidates

Despite the challenges, the Anthony Wayne Board of Education has accomplished a lot during the eight years that he’s served, said Jeff Baden.

“I feel a need to continue improving on the great work we’re doing in the district – to provide the best opportunities and experiences for the kids, staff and parents,” Baden said. “I believe it is important to have some continuity and maintain the good working relationships we have in the district and community. We have some important levies and opportunities that I am excited to see through as we grow as a district.”

With a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio University and an MBA from the University of Findlay, Baden has nearly 30 years of experience in engineering positions, currently as senior program manager for Dana, where he works on Jeep axle programs.

“My background helps me bring a standard methodological approach to solving problems. We have worked though some major events and situations in the past several years,” he said. “I think it is important to have a variety of backgrounds to work together from different perspectives.”

When making a decision, Baden said the board utilizes experts in appropriate fields. He also works to listen to all parties to evaluate best-case options.

“I believe we have shown over the years that we work together as a board, even with differing views. As long as people are respectful when listening to other views, the voting process works,” he said. “I try to resist the immediate kneejerk reaction. I have a levelheaded approach and take the time to study both sides of the issue before coming to the best solution. There have been very passionate people on sides of issues, and you must be able to listen and work through these inputs and work within the law.”

During his eight years on the board, Baden and his wife Tina saw their three children graduate. In his spare time, he is an active member and past president of the Waterville Rotary Club and serves on committees for Community of Christ Lutheran Church. He also enjoys running, biking, woodworking and working on his old Mustang.

For 32 years, Amy Barrett has witnessed firsthand how committed the AWLS administration, teachers and support staff are to the students and families of the district.

“We are so fortunate to live in this community with an awesome school district,” she said, noting that it would be an honor to serve on the board to continue that level of support. “I want to continue that support for the well-being of all of our students.”

As her four children began attending Waterville Primary School, Barrett got involved in the Waterville Parents Association, volunteering throughout the district and working as a substitute teacher. For 10 years, she worked closely with school administrators as the director of the Awake Community Coalition to provide resources, drug prevention education and life skills training for students and families. 

Barrett, who holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and communications from The University of Toledo, is a self-employed grant writer and volunteers with the Anthony Wayne Neighborhood Bridges program and the Anthony Wayne Food Ministry, administering a weekend food bag program for Anthony Wayne students in need of food assistance on weekends and school breaks.

“I believe these experiences over the years as a parent, volunteer, employee and involved community member will be beneficial to my role as a school board member,” she said.

The role of a school board member is to focus on the facts and abide by the laws that pertain to public schools when making decisions on behalf of the district, she said.

“It is important that we respect each other even when we don’t agree with another person’s viewpoint. It would be my hope that as board members we can disagree without being disagreeable, understanding that we have to go with where the facts lead us,” said Barrett, adding that she would meet with community members to provide open and honest communication.

Married to Mike for 32 years, Barrett has four children who graduated from Anthony Wayne and has three grandchildren. She is active in Waterville Community Church and enjoys volunteering, spending time with family and friends, golfing with Mike and playing pickleball.

Sarah Bellner has four campaign issues: strengthening education, empowering teachers, boosting student morale and becoming more pro-parent choice.

“I follow politics, but I’m no politician nor have I made it a goal to become one,” she said. “I wanted to run for my children, the children of this district and to be a voice for the entire community.”

A 2005 AWHS graduate, Bellner met her husband Brad in high school, while she was a cheerleader and he was on the football team. They have been married for 13 years and live in Whitehouse with their two children. Her mother and mother-in-law are also AW graduates. 

“I’ve seen the changes this district has gone through over the years. I hold Anthony Wayne to a high standard. Being able to help continue the forward progress of my district is really important to me,” she said.

With a B.S. in environmental, safety and health management from the University of Findlay, Bellner worked in corporate positions in safety and claims management before joining her husband, Brad, in running his company, B Clean Pro Services. She conducts interviews, creates policies and facilitates the finances for the business of 15 to 20 employees.

“Working with people that may have a difference of opinion is something I’m familiar with,” she said, noting how that experience applies to being on the board. “It’s really about being able to manage that working relationship and have respect for those board members without sacrificing your own morals and values.”

Bellner said her goal is to listen to everyone’s concerns and opinions before making a sound decision.

“Ultimately, the end goal is making choices and creating policy that favors the majority of our students and community members in the most cost-effective way,” she said.

Bellner said her most important role is mom to Bryson, who plays football and is in fifth grade, and Maddie, who is in competitive gymnastics and is in third grade.

“Being able to be present and help guide my children to become kind, compassionate and independent individuals is so rewarding. I want my children to be strong advocates for themselves and grow up to be productive members of the community.”

In her spare time, Bellner enjoys spending time with family, camping, relaxing by the lake and gardening.

With 16 years of experience on the board, Pam Brint utilizes her accumulated knowledge and understanding of the relationship between the board and the district to maintain an outstanding district for all students.

During her four terms on the board, Brint has served as president, vice president and on several committees. She has actively pursued training opportunities, attended conferences and reads the many publications that are available to board members. For the past 12 years, she has served as the district delegate to the Ohio School Boards Association, a statewide organization composed of members from over 700 school districts. 

“As a local business owner, I understand the importance of fiscal responsibility,” Brint said, referring to Anthony Wayne Tire and Auto Repair in Monclova. 

The state funding system expects Anthony Wayne Local Schools to obtain the majority of its funding from residents, yet the district has continually had the lowest effective millage in Lucas County – pointing to effective financial management, she noted.

In addition to ensuring the financial stability of the district, board members make decisions on a number of topics that can be challenging at times – some prompting divisiveness within the community.

“Education has become very complex. My approach to any decision is to educate myself on the topic, have conversations with fellow board members, administrators and stakeholders. Most importantly, I need to know that decisions align with state and federal laws,” Brint said. “There may be unpopular choices made and I have always been willing to listen to any community member.”

Brint moved to the district in 1990. Her three children are Anthony Wayne graduates and successful adults. This school year, four of her seven grandchildren are students in Anthony Wayne schools.

“Being involved with school has always been important, and I continue to volunteer for my grandkids’ classes,” she said.

Anthony Wayne Tire and Auto Repair has supported numerous school programs over the years. Brint also has 30 years of experience as a dental hygienist. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, gardening and being with family.

During the two years he’s been attending Anthony Wayne Board of Education meetings, Frank Dudas said he became concerned about progressive ideals being shared with students. 

“Our schools need to focus on educating our kids and not pushing an ideological culture,” he said. “The priority is getting students a quality education, so they are self-sufficient and able to be a valuable member of the public, not relying on the government.”

Dudas outlined the steps to achieve that goal, starting with attracting and retaining high-quality teachers with above-average pay. That pay could be funded by eliminating the unnecessary costs of administrators who are not directly teaching or helping students advance, he said.

He would also like to see a practical financial curriculum that covers compounding interest, the benefits of a 401(k) or IRA, inflation and credit cards, for example.

While Dudas believes that English and reading are well-taught, he would like to see math and science brought to the forefront. 

Lastly, he sees a need for further transparency when it comes to bullying. Dudas recommends a tiered system that matches levels of bullying with repercussions so that bullies are held accountable – and creating a comfortable atmosphere for all students.

“Bullying seems to be the No. 1 reason people are pulling their kids out of our schools, right behind woke policies,” he said. “I also will run on returning the control of our children’s education back over to the parents.” 

Dudas is also campaigning on financial responsibility. He questioned why the board members didn’t join on a building walk-through with The Collaborative before deciding to place a levy on the ballot for building upgrades and new athletic facilities.

While Dudas plans to make decisions on his conservative Christian values, he said he will work with all community members by seeking out their opinions and doing research to find the safest and most cost-effective solution.

A northeast Ohio native, Dudas moved to the area in 1998 after six years in the U.S. Navy, where he held secret clearance serving on submarines. Married with two sons in the district, he enjoys watching their sports, raising chickens and watching the Buffalo Bills and UFC.

Jayna Gwin is motivated to run for a second term because of her passion for the district and its residents.

“Ensuring that we are providing a quality educational opportunity for the students in our district, as well as a safe and enjoyable place to work for our employees and staff, is extremely important to me,” she said.

The last four years have been a learning curve – absorbing information about funding, legislation and policy related to the board, as well as navigating issues in the district.

“I’d like to continue to build on what I have learned with the confidence that has come from having a better understanding of the role and the needs of the district,” she said. “I’m proud to be a member of this community and I am committed to ensuring that our families and our employees are happy and successful here as well.”

During her first term, Gwin said she worked to be available to all members of the district and to stay up to date with programs in each building – and how students and staff may be affected.

“I respect that we have a diverse community and that there are many different interpretations of what we are doing, as well as ideas about how we can do things differently,” she said. “I appreciate opportunities to learn how we can improve and welcome community involvement in making the necessary changes.”

Despite some differences in viewpoints among board members, Gwin said she feels that the board was able to reach resolutions by continuing to bring the focus back to the goal of educating the students and supporting the staff.

With a master’s degree in education, Gwin spent many years working as an adolescent therapist. She has worked in adolescent residential treatment facilities as well as in community agency counseling and corporate training.

She and her husband Jason live in Monclova and have two children: one at the junior high and another at the high school. Both are active in the community, volunteering in events and supporting local businesses.

“I appreciate the opportunity that serving on the school board provides me to combine my personal passion of volunteerism and community involvement with my academic training and professional skills.

Lindsay Hoipkemier sums up her purpose for running for the school board with the acronym H.E.L.P. – heeding the voice of the community; educating, not indoctrinating students; leading through conservative values; and pursuing transparency between the board and the community.

“These issues come from the heart of a mom who loves her children and wants to see them and every other student in the district flourish in their education through high academic standards and enter the adult world grounded in truth and ready to thrive regardless of their environment,” she said.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, where her father was stationed with the Army, Hoipkemier grew up outside of Nashville, Tenn. She earned a B.A. in interior design with a minor in psychology from Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. She met her husband Ben and they moved to Ohio in 2007. Since then, she’s been involved in design services through her own small business, substitute teaching, serving as nursery coordinator and Vacation Bible School leader for Monclova Road Baptist Church, volunteering in the schools and serving as a foster mom to two girls, ages 2 and 9 months.

The Hoipkemier family also includes three children in the Anthony Wayne Local Schools: eighth-grader Ella, sixth-grader Emily and third-grader Gavin.

As a member of the school board, Hoipkemier said she would use her collaborative spirit.

“I have always valued the input, knowledge, wisdom and experience of others. All are important, offer unique benefits and must work together for the best outcome,” she said. “A school board is no different. We all bring something unique and beneficial; and together, with a collaborative spirit, we can offer an amazing educational experience for our students.”

As a Christian, Hoipkemier said she will filter her decisions and viewpoints through the word of God.

“I am very much a peacemaker type and desire to hear all sides of a story or issue, even when I know it might go against my decisions, opinions or beliefs,” she said, noting that she will make time to speak with members of the community to bring their concerns to the board for evaluation, or just to put them at ease.

With 35 years of teaching experience, deep ties to the Anthony Wayne community and an understanding of school funding and how state issues impact the district, Shellie McKnight said she’s prepared to be a voice for students, teachers, staff and the community.

In addition to teaching English and journalism at Otsego High School, McKnight spent 20 years teaching courses in English and speech at Bowling Green State University, earning her master’s degree at the same time, then working toward a Ph.D. She is a certified reading specialist and intervention specialist in behavior who set up behavior units in Fulton County through the Educational Service Center.

“I believe in public schools and that teachers should be respected for the professionals they are, supported by the administration and encouraged in their curriculum planning,” she said. “I also believe every student deserves to be educated in a safe, collaborative setting, allowed to be themselves and respected for who they are, encouraged to pursue their dreams and goals.”

As public education funding has decreased, McKnight is concerned about voucher expansion, taking public money for private schools that aren’t as accountable or transparent as public schools are required to be, and she has urged AWLS to join the lawsuit seeking to eliminate vouchers. For the AWLS budget, she vows to work so every dollar is spent frugally and efficiently.

“This becomes paramount as buildings age, enrollment increases, technology evolves and teachers and staff deserve better pay,” she said, encouraging voters to support two levies on the ballot that would maintain AW excellence.

McKnight promises to provide a common-sense voice in generating factual, nonpartisan communication so that reasoned policies are put into place. She said she’ll be honest, transparent, available, responsible and inclusive of other board members, even with those who might not share her personal viewpoints.

Moving to the district in 1971, McKnight was involved while her two daughters, Roxanne and Katherine, were in clubs, sports, dance, FFA and 4-H in Anthony Wayne Local Schools.

Her interests include reading, writing, gardening, sewing, dancing and traveling. She volunteered with Nature’s Nursery for 10 years and is currently a member of the nonprofit’s education board.

Jim Schlievert moved his family to Whitehouse two years ago for the schools. During the time since, he’s gotten involved in speaking with the board about two controversial topics: masking and the former bathroom policy.

“I felt that both were not good for our students,” he said. “Masking should have been a family choice under medical freedom. With the bathroom policy, it was a hidden policy. I don’t think the sexes should be mixed in their most private and intimate moments.”

While challenging these issues, Schlievert said he discovered that some information being presented was inaccurate. 

“The administration said on masking that the county health department forced them to implement it. I called the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, and they said it was each school’s choice and they only could provide recommendations,” he said. “The same happened with the bathroom policy. I studied case law for over six weeks and knew that the foundation for the board’s policy was inaccurate.”

When he was just one quarter away from earning his bachelor’s degree in education, Schlievert decided to follow his childhood dream of becoming a police officer. He has been with Toledo Police Department for 28 years.

As an officer, Schlievert said he follows St. Paul’s advice to “find common ground with everyone.” On most of his calls as an officer, he puts that to use – serving as a mediator and counselor.

“Most calls involve conflict, whether it’s over a car crash, theft or violence. I have to bring at least a temporary peace to some bad situations,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, there is a good resolution. Those mediation skills I can bring to the table. In the rare case where compromise isn’t an option, that’s where a strong board member is needed to address it.”

While attending school board meetings, Schlievert said he’s addressed concerns but also praised the great programs and staff. As a board member, he promises to listen to all citizens’ concerns, even if he disagrees.

Married to Jill for 32 years, they have two daughters – including an Anthony Wayne freshman – along with cats and dogs. In his spare time, Schlievert enjoys coaching sports, being outdoors, reading and hanging out with family.

Check Also

Local Artist Teri Utz Bersée Featured At Maumee Library

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Teri Utz Bersée has always had a love …