An incumbent and three challengers will vie for three seats on the Upper Arlington School Board this November.

Incumbent Nancy Drees will be joined on the Nov. 5 ballot by incumbents Nic Fortkamp, Jenny McKenna and Lori Trent.

The four candidates are competing for three seats on the board. In addition to Drees' seat, they are running for the seats of Stacey Royer and Marjory Pizzuti.

Royer decided against seeking a third term. Pizzuti was appointed following the death of Robin Comfort on July 8. Comfort was in the final year of her third term. Pizzuti will serve the remainder of Comfort's term through Dec. 31 but didn't seek to retain the seat.

Drees, 58, of Criswell Drive is the wife of David Drees. The couple have three children: Dave, Emily and Erin.

Drees, who is seeking her third term, has a degree in business administration from the Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business.

In addition to being a parent to three Upper Arlington High School graduates and a former parent volunteer for various schools in the district, Drees is the current vice president of the Upper Arlington school board. She's also been a board member of the Upper Arlington City Community Improvement Corp. since 2013, as well as the Upper Arlington Education Foundation from 2009-16.

Additionally, she's a past president of both the Greensview Elementary PTO and Kinder Key of Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Drees said she's seeking a third term on the board because she appreciates "how much our community values education and I want to pay it forward by serving on the Upper Arlington Board of Education."

"For the past eight years, I have served on the board through some of the district's toughest challenges -- from revitalizing the crumbling infrastructure to navigating our schools through investments and new technology," she said.

"I am committed to continuing to build upon the school board's accomplishments by serving another term on the board.

"There is no greater responsibility than working to ensure the excellence of our children's education. As a board member, I have always put the well-being of our children, teachers and staff first. I want our children to be prepared to serve, lead and succeed in and beyond the classroom."

Drees said she's a proven leader whose accomplishments have included helping promote the passage of a $230 bond to rebuild or renovate six district school buildings and the introduction of computer tablets to all students in the district.

Fortkamp, 34, of Shrewsbury Road is married to Erin Fortkamp, who is expecting their first child in November.

He has a bachelor's degree in economics from Franklin University is a member of Leadership UA, Equal UA, the Advisory Council for School Counselors, the Upper Arlington Lacrosse Association and the Upper Arlington Civic Association. He's also served on the UA Schools Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and the UA Big Table Planning Committee.

Fortkamp's other activities have included being an Upper Arlington Citizen Police Academy graduate and defensive coach for the Wellington School's lacrosse team, as well as taking part in Upper Arlington High School's Idea Day, the UAHS Capstone Program and volunteering for the Shootout for Soldiers Fundraiser.

"I'm intensely engaged in the Upper Arlington community and I want to give back and help continue to grow the educational excellence that is Upper Arlington Schools," Fortkamp said.

"As a UA graduate who struggled with multiple obstacles, including diversity, social anxiety, depression and learning style, I've made it a priority to help others now that I've found my voice.

"I've continuously worked with and coached children, young adults and parents for over a decade, and I feel I have a unique understanding of student life in UA. My primary goal is to promote a safe, nurturing, respectful school environment where each student can achieve their own highest level of success."

McKenna, 40, of Kensington Drive is married to Shawn McKenna.

The couple have three children: Jack, 13, Charlie, 11, and Thomas, 9.

McKenna has a degree in comparative studies from Ohio State, and her activities include serving as tennis chairwoman on the board of the Swim and Racquet Club in Upper Arlington and co-leading fifth-grade promotion at Barrington Elementary.

She also volunteers for Meals on Wheels and listed herself a member of the 2017 committee that helped pass Issue 43 for the school building projects and a 3.75-mill operating levy, as well as a captain of the Swim and Racquet tennis team and of the Indoor U.S. Tennis Association team.

"I am running for Upper Arlington school board to be a voice for parents," McKenna said. "When I served on the levy campaign committee, I was so inspired by our community involvement, thoughtful research, and organization vigor (that) I knew I wanted to serve our schools in a deeper and more meaningful way.

"Currently, there is only one board member with kids enrolled in our schools. With three kids in elementary and middle schools, having served as an elementary PTO president and on the levy campaign committee, I have been engaging with parents in the community on a regular basis for the last 10 years.

"As my children's enrollment in our schools and my passion to serve will continue for the next 10 years, I plan on staying as engaged as ever. I hear what is on (parents') minds every day. I hear their ideas and their concerns for how we are educating and preparing our children for the future.

"Our board has done an excellent job of investing in technology and infrastructure. As these projects are underway, it is important to keep an eye on where our attention should be focused next."

Trent, 60, of Edington Road is married to Kelly Trent. The couple have twin boys, Dylan and Skylar, who are sophomores at UAHS.

She has an art-education degree from Miami University (Ohio), and a master's degree in education, with a focus on integrating technology into the classroom, from Walden University.

Trent's activities and organizations include being a current member of the UA Schools Strategic Core Group, the UA Schools STEM Advisory Committee, the latter of which she's co-led since 2018.

Trent formerly served on the UA Schools Lead of Learning Experience Group Committee and the city of Upper Arlington's Citizen Financial Review Task Force. She was an Upper Arlington Civic Association member and is a past chair of the group's Golden Apple Awards, was co-president of the Wickliffe Elementary PTO, was a secretary and board member of the Ohio Community Schools Board and is former a member of New Beginnings Academy & the Road to Success Academy.

Additionally, Trent is a former Jones Middle School girls golf coach and past PSI Chapter adviser for Alpha Xi Delta.

"As an educator, businesswoman, parent and longtime resident of Upper Arlington, I am uniquely qualified for Upper Arlington City Schools Board of Education," she said. "A certified teacher with a master's of education, I understand the challenges that teachers, administrators and students face.

"With twin sons attending Upper Arlington High School, I have seen firsthand how special our school system is. I have the perseverance and life experience needed to enhance and serve our wonderful community."

Trent said she's committed to Upper Arlington's youth and would "work to make sure that our schools continue to be a model of excellence in the community and to ensure that our children are prepared for the rapid-paced future."

As a board member, Trent said she would introduce new thoughts and perspectives, while evaluating past practices to "effect true, long-lasting change supporting every student, every step of the way."

"Leveraging our community assets, I will work to connect more local businesses and community members with our schools, helping to provide real-world experiences for our students," she said.

NOTE: Look for candidate Q&As and additional election coverage in the coming weeks in ThisWeek Upper Arlington News and online at ThisWeekNEWS.com.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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