Getting to know the newest State Board of Education member
Bettie Bolar's career has never been far from education.
The newest member of the State Board of Education, Bolar began her career as a public health nurse but was soon working at Iowa Valley Community College District as director of special projects and health education. She eventually held the position of vice chancellor before becoming a self-employed contractor for the Community Foundation of Marshall County.
Bolar, of Marshalltown, is a member of a campaign that promotes early childhood literacy: Spread the Word, Read by 3rd. She also heads the Summer Learning Task Force, and is a volunteer reader for “Munch and More,” a summer reading program that works in conjunction with summer nutrition sites.
She holds a degree from the College of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill., and holds a master of science in higher education from Iowa State University.
Your first career was that of a nurse. What attracted you to the field of education?
Health care and education are really related in a way. Both are vital for people to thrive, for thriving communities and a thriving state. Education has so much promise and I wanted to help people develop the love of lifelong learning.
What do you see as the challenges that Iowa’s education system faces?
A huge challenge right now in our state is adequate funding for all facets of education. The issues with third-grade reading deficiencies are an indicator of other issues facing families, which really need to be addressed. And then of course, changing economics and rapidly changing technology also present big challenges.
Why were you interested in joining the State Board of Education?
The State Board of Education can influence all levels of education and in addition to learning much more about the education system in Iowa, I hope I can also help with positive influences.
What are you hoping to bring to the State Board of Education’s table?
I have a long history in community college education, specifically adult education and job training. I think those two areas are essential for a well-educated citizenry and I can bring my experience in the field to the State Board. In addition, I have a passion for early childhood education. I guess I’m a strong believer of education from cradle to grave.
Where do you see education today and where does it need to go tomorrow?
I will need to learn a great deal more about education at all levels in the state. My dream for education in the future is that every child, teen, adult, and older citizen can learn throughout their lifetimes. I hope the education system can deliver what each person needs at his or her individual capacity and speed. The system needs to be very individualized to meet the needs of a very diverse population; diverse in age, ability, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status. One method of delivery no longer works adequately to keep up with changes in our world, and the education system must change with it.