TRAVERSE CITY — Doris Ellery knows her community.
She knows how Traverse City Area Public Schools’ tough financial decisions — like closing elementary schools — affected local families in the past. Ellery plans to lean on that familiarity as TCAPS’ newest school board member.
“I know what the families have been through, so I’m hoping I can bring that mindset when they have to deal with this next set of funding concerns as (district officials) deal with this bond failure,” she said.
Ellery was selected to fill the school board’s vacant seat during a meeting Monday night.
She was one of three finalists for the open board seat. The other two, Todd Sanders and Craig Wesley, moved to Traverse City within the last year. Some board members worried about how the public would perceive the board selecting a newcomer.
Ellery was born into a third-generation cherry farming family. Her parents, Whitney and Mary Lyon, owned Island View Orchards. One of her brothers now owns the Old Mission Peninsula orchard where Ellery grew up working on harvesting cherries from the trees.
“Shaking, picking the whole thing,” she said.
Ellery graduated from TCAPS then attended Northwestern Michigan College. She earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan before moving to St. Louis to be with her future husband Rick Ellery. The couple decided to move back to Traverse City in 1996 to start a family.
The couple’s daughter is a freshman at Traverse City West Senior High School. Doris Ellery said good public schools are important to attract families to a community, and to ensure all youths are given a chance to succeed.
“I’m very grateful our daughter has done well in school, but not everyone has that opportunity so I’m hoping we can meet the needs of all the kids no matter what their abilities are,” she said.
Doris Ellery works as a supervisor at the Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Michigan, a regional nonprofit group that helps elderly and disabled people stay in their homes. She said her experience working with the public — and within the constraints of limited public funding — will translate well to the TCAPS board.
Doris Ellery said whether she decides to run for the board seat she’s been appointed to when it’s up for election in November will depend on how her first few months on the board go.
“But I don’t think I would have done this if I honestly didn’t want to pursue that,” she said.