Outgoing Chehalis School Board Director Vicki Daniels recently had the realization that, after a full career serving the Chehalis School District and 12 years on the Chehalis School Board, she will soon have time to read for fun.
“All I’ve been doing has been reading educational material,” Daniels said. “But really, you just get out there and you have fun.”
She told her fellow board members at the Chehalis School Board’s Tuesday meeting that she’s read more in her 12 years on the school board than she did during her nearly 30 years of teaching, “just because so much is going on and I wanted to know what was going on,” she said.
Nov. 16 marked Daniels’ last official Chehalis School Board meeting as director of District 3. She will be handing her seat over to parent-activist Kelsi Hamilton, who defeated Daniels with a 725-vote lead in the November general election as of the most-recent count.
“It's been a pleasure working with the people that I’ve worked with,” Daniels said. “I was just thinking the other day and a thought came to mind: It's been the best of times, it's been the worst of times,” she said, quoting the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” “There’s been more good times. And we know that good times will continue,” she added. “It's just been an honor to be on the board working for students and the district, and it's just been a pleasure. I appreciate it so much.”
Chehalis School District administrators and her fellow board members took time during the school board meeting to recognize Daniels for her years of service to the Chehalis School District and the impact she’s had on the Chehalis community.
“You brought what I see as a very caring heart and a passion to do what is right for each student and you see the big picture and I appreciate that about you,” said Superintendent Christine Moloney, adding that she appreciates Daniels’ leadership and perspective. “I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done for the Chehalis School District, staff, students, families, community and for me.”
As a board member, she frequently took time to sit down with school administrators and talk through what students and teachers need to be successful.
Daniels was instrumental in the Chehalis School District’s efforts to build two new elementary schools and helped the district expand opportunities for W.F. West’s Career and Technical Education program and the K-12 STEM program. She also worked to increase Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program options for students.
In recent years, she has worked closely on the Student Achievement Initiative, which aims to prepare students for opportunities after high school graduation.
“She has teeny tiny feet and huge shoes to fill,” said District 4 Director Colleen State.
Several of the board members and administrative staff attested to knowing both Vicki Daniels and her husband, Denny Daniels, through their involvement in the community since they moved to Chehalis in 1971.
“I think for me, the Daniels family are heroes. What you have done for students and athletes and for the community at large classifies you as heroes for Chehalis,” said District 2 Director Alan Browning.
District 5 Director J. Vander Stoep acknowledged the couple’s service to the community as based in a desire to help students, absent any personal or political agenda.
“You are serving in education and on the board because you think you can serve to the betterment of the community and the kids, period. And that puts you in the hero category in my book, as well,” Vander Stoep said to Vicki Daniels.
Denny Daniels, who attended the meeting as an audience member, also took the opportunity to praise his wife’s work on the school board.
“I’m probably one of the few that knows how many hours Vicki put in,” he said. “She went above and beyond to say the least and she did it because of her passion for kids, number one, for education and for the Chehalis School District. She and I have really appreciated your support for all of this.”
Board Chair Larry Petersen told Vicki Daniels it was people like her who drew him and his wife to Chehalis roughly 40 years ago, and it was because of people like Daniels working together as a team that has made the Chehalis School District successful over the years.
“It’s a team, it's everybody,” said Petersen. “And as long as we remember that, we’ll be successful.”
Vicki Daniels recalled how she and her husband first got together at a Centralia football game, and they knew they were in the right place when they came here.
“This is a great community that gives a lot, cares a lot, and I would like to see that continue for sure,” she said.
Hamilton will officially be sworn into the director of District 3 seat in January 2022.
“I’m grateful for the support and trust of the community. I think these (election) results show that people want more transparency and know there are some areas we can improve,” Hamilton said in a recent written statement in which she thanked Daniels for her commitment to the district and for her 12 years of service on the school board.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with the other directors and our superintendent and move forward together,” she said.