Hall of Fame: John HerrTea Area School District inducts second Hall of Fame class
For 14 years, Hall of Fame inductee John Herr served on the Tea Area School Board.
He remembers his first day on the board since it was also his first day at his current job which was July 11, 2005. When he began his first term on the board, the district was in its third year. He filled the spot that Ray Cheney vacated.
“I was approached by someone and was asked kind of in and amongst a group of people, not that I was pressured into it, but he asked me and it kind of clicked and I thought, ‘why not?’ I think I have something to offer,” he said.
Prior to serving on the school board, he did not have any background in education or school operations. However, for the first couple of years, he was the vice chair of the board and later served as the board president for about nine years until he got off the board in 2019.
During his time on the board, the biggest challenge was the district’s growth and figuring out how to pay for stuff. As the district got underway a bit, they figured out how to get by.
Herr marvels at how much has changed over the years. He remembers when the band first marched in a competition in Chester in khakis and t-shirts. Now they are building a performing arts center.
Another issue they faced when Herr was on the board was minor boundary changes.
“We spent so much on legal fees to defend those things and it went to court and the Supreme Court and we won, and we protected our boundaries by doing it the right way,” Herr said. “When I look back, that’s the biggest thing that comes to mind, not that I had any single part in doing it, it’s just a good memory of a bad situation.”
Once he got on the board, he saw that he could provide value to the group. With no education background, he could offer financial advice and organization from his background.
From his time on the board he took away a much greater understanding of how the education system works.
“If you’re doing the job correctly, the people aren’t going to question what you’re doing. I was warned specifically when I took the job as president that be ready you’re going to get all kinds of calls and people will be on your doorstep,” he said. “I rarely ever heard from anybody in the community whether that was because I was unapproachable or they chose to find other people or there really weren’t that many specific issues that they felt they needed to come to the president of the board with.”
Hall of Fame inductees were nominated by the community and were selected through a committee based on the attributes of the Titan Triangle - academics supported by arts and athletics.
“Mr. Herr’s leadership stabilized and lifted the Tea Area School District. During his tenure, he led the district through rapid growth, defended the district through several minor boundary challenges, brought the community together to pass multiple successful bond referendums and raised our standard operating procedures,” said Superintendent Jennifer Lowery.
The Hall of Fame means a lot to Herr.
“One of the things I gave for advice was don’t expect praise immediately for something that you do or a job well done. Over time those things come to the surface and this is one of those things I think for me that I just kind of did my thing and somebody saw evidently the value I had for the district and made the nomination. To me, that’s an honor,” he said.
He credits the school boards he served with and the administrators and superintendents for the accomplishments the district has seen.
“The school board never is one person. I didn’t do any of these things by myself. It’s a group effort,” he said. “It’s an individual honor, but I didn’t do any of those things by myself throughout my 14 years.”