| 3 min read | by Doug Marrin |
Dexter Community Schools Board of Education selected Jason Gold to serve in the seat vacated by the resignation of former board president Michael Wendorf. Jason was sworn in at the Board’s regular meeting on March 9, 2020.
Jason has a strong history of working in a variety of positions that advocate for and serve people in need of certain supportive services.
“The board felt that Jason Gold’s experience serving on the board of several local nonprofits, along with his commitment to the mental health and well-being of our students and staff, and his focus on building inclusive communities will serve Dexter Schools extremely well,” says current Board President Dr. Julie Schumaker.
“I really want to get to know the community here and be a part of the community,” Jason said in an interview at Joe and Rosie’s. “For me, it’s about the well-being of the students and staff. If they’re well, they’ll attend school. They’ll thrive and graduate to go into the community and be productive.”
Jason currently works as an advocate and consultant for people with invisible and visible disabilities. ‘Invisible’ and ‘visible’ disabilities refer to the challenges – physical, mental, or emotional – that may or may not be apparent.
He and his business partner consult with social service organizations to elevate awareness and sensitivity for people who are challenged. They serve a broad spectrum of organizations that include education, various nonprofits, hospitals, law enforcement, and fire departments.
“We have created a tool where people can communicate their vulnerabilities which can then activate compassion,” explained Jason. “Currently, we have created a decal that people can put on their vehicle, home, or property, that alerts people to the fact that they have an invisible disability and to be patient and compassionate.”
As an example, Jason used the scenario of a driver being stopped by law enforcement. The decal would alert law officers that stress may trigger certain behavior that could be misinterpreted as aggressive or hostile.
“We’ve been talking to legislators, school districts, and county leaders all across the state to get this message out so that we can safeguard people with invisible disabilities,” said Jason. “There are about 375,000 people in Washtenaw County with about 80 to 90,000 of those people having some type of invisible disability.”
More about Jason’s business can be found at https://www.safebeings.com/
This experience and more is what the Board of Education considered when regarding Jason in their selection process. The competition for the open seat was tough. Dr. Schumaker describes all the candidates as “excellent.”
To make their decision, the School Board interviewed the pool of 17 candidates who had applied for the open seat late last month. After the interviews, the Board proceeded with the selection with three rounds of voting. In the first round, board members identified their top three choices. Candidates with at least two votes were discussed with board members noting their strengths. In the next round, board members voted for their top two choices. Those candidates with at least three votes were again discussed individually. In the third round of voting, each board member identified their top candidate.
Jason was the Board’s top candidate.
Jason is hard-wired for advocacy. He retired from the Ann Arbor Police Department in 2017. Among his numerous roles with the department, he was a school liaison officer. He has also worked for the Ann Arbor Public Schools as an advocate supporting students with such issues as absenteeism, homelessness, and 504 compliance.
Section 504 requires agencies to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in their programs and benefit from their services.
“What was most powerful for me was to work with the traumatized populations who suffer abuse and neglect which impacts their learning,” said Jason.
Jason has also served with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation which collaborates to increase public and private investment in the earliest childhood years to elevate issues affecting young children and their families.
He has also worked in Washtenaw County with Big Brother Big Sister and United Way. He currently serves with the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund which is a voice for Michigan’s children and families and promotes their health, safety, and welfare.
Jason brings his lifetime passion and experience of helping people in critical need to the Dexter School Board where he looks to provide a fresh voice and make a positive impact.
“Advocacy is critical for me,” explains Jason. “I believe that as a board member, we should advocate for our school district. There are experiences and innovations out there in different parts of our state and country. I want those things brought back to the Dexter community.”
‘Passion’ might be too small of a word when describing Jason’s motivation. His energy is as big as the heart he has for children, parents, and their future.
“What drives me to serve on the school board is my own children, and all children,” Jason said. “Some children have a hard time at learning, so I want to be that advocate, that voice for them to make sure that learning is accessible to them. But not just the kids, for parents also who may have had a hard time in the school system, or they just don’t know how to navigate the school system, I want to be a champion for them also.”
Jason and his wife, Maya, have five children four of which attend Dexter schools – Jason II is the oldest at 13, followed by Olivia (9), Jackson (7), Jamison (6), and Jacob (2). Maya is an artist specializing in leather and paper mediums. Her work can be viewed at https://www.oliviajdesigns.com/
In his spare time, when there is any, Jason feeds his curious nature with reading and learning about a variety of new things. If he feels the need to completely veg out, he turns on a martial arts movie. Like a lot of us in this community, he loves being outdoors and taking the family camping. It is all part of an incredibly full and balanced life.
For now, however, he is rolling up his sleeves and getting up to speed on all the current Board issues, and the Board is happy to have him on board.
“I believe that Jason Gold will be an excellent board member and look forward to working with him,” says Dr. Schumaker.
Congratulations Jason! May you have the best of success!