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Pennfield School Board

Leslie Wiley
The Robert B. Miller College

Psych 310
Debi Ash, Adjunct Professor
December 14, 2011


It has been a long day at work. I am exhausted and ready to put my

pajamas on, however, there is still much to do. As I enter the room, which
happens to be a library in the middle school, I notice how quiet and warm it
is. The lighting is just right and it is a very welcoming environment.
Suddenly, I forget all about my pajamas. There are chairs set up facing a
table, with more chairs set up behind the table. I find a chair near the back
so that I can just observe without the members knowing why I am there. I do
not want anyone to change their behavior because they know that I am
watching their every move. People begin filing in and taking their seats. At
five minutes before the meeting is scheduled to begin, the board members
enter the library and take their seats. The audience starts to quiet down and
the members begin to open their folders and rearrange their papers. It is
now time for the monthly meeting of the Pennfield school board. I am there
to observe how they work together in a group setting, how they
communicate, and do they meet their goals. After attending a meeting, it is
apparent that the school board is committed and works hard to uphold their
mission to ensure all students the opportunity to learn and to provide them
with the necessary skills to be contributing members of society: (Pennfield
School Board).
There are not many groups that can classify themselves as a high
performance group; however, the majority of the time the Pennfield school
board maintains the high performance status. I think that every group has
times where they fall out of this category and into an effective group status.


Every member of the Pennfield school board decided to run for a spot and
wants to be in their position. They are residents of the school district, some
of them with children attending Pennfield, and many of them are Pennfield
alumni. They are committed and dedicated to the success of the school
district and uphold standards to make Pennfield a great school. There
appeared to be no hidden agendas present within the group. Every member
was respectful while offering their opinion and listened intently while the
others were speaking. I never witnessed one of the members staring off into
space and not paying attention. The topic of discussion was all that
mattered. There were only a small number of times when votes were not
unanimous, generally about money.
The school board meetings are all about communication. The majority
of the time one-way-with-feedback communication was witnessed. The
president of the board would initiate a topic and ask a question of someone
who would then answer with the information that they had researched. The
board would then use two-way-communication to discuss, clarify, and
interact with each member. At that time it is voted on by the members and it
will be case closed. Anyone is allowed to comment to the board at the
appropriate time. A parent may get heated about an issue, but they are
never allowed to interrupt the discussion. These meetings are open to the
public, unless it is a disciplinary issue, so it is imperative that the school
board meetings be organized and rather rigid on when anybody can talk.
Groupthink, defined as collective striving for unanimity that overrides
group members motivation to appraise alternative courses of actions


(Johnson, 2009, p.294), is never good for a group trying to achieve a goal
without ulterior motives. If these meetings were not open to the public it
would be very easy for this to happen. The parents, teachers, and anyone
willing to take an interest in Pennfield schools are witness to the discussions
and decisions that the board makes. It directly affects the teachers and the
students that attend Pennfield so I dont think groupthink would happen
without a fight.
Conflict between board members was not witnessed at the two
meetings that I was present for. Once in awhile, a parent or teacher would
get upset about a certain topic. They were allowed to speak their opinion
and the board would hear them out. The board would take into consideration
their point of view; however, the board has the final say as they all vote on
the issue. Conflict in this manner is not always bad; its inevitable and
known as controversy. Johnson (2009) explained in regards to controversy
that the key to the successful use of controversy and creativity in problem
solving is how open-minded or close-minded the group is (p.365). The
teachers and parents are very passionate about their beliefs and will try to
peak the board members curiosity and get them to vote in their favor.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt. Our current school board
seems to be very open-minded and I think this creates camaraderie with the
members and the constituents of this district. Parents and teachers want to
feel as if they have an impact on what happens with our children. This is
another reason why I like the fact that some of our school board members
have children in the district.


The Pennfield school board is not a very diverse group when it comes
to race and ethnicity. In fact, the school district is not as racially or ethnically
diverse as other districts. In the future, as our district becomes more
diverse, I think it would be a good idea for our board to become more diverse
as well. It can bring a different perspective and new ideas to our school
district. That is never a bad thing. We do have a wide variety of ages
ranging from early thirties to late sixties. This is also a good thing as Ive
heard with age comes wisdom. The younger members can also bring new
ideas to the table. Our board is consisted of both male and female members
which is also important. Men and women certainly dont think alike so its
important to have both present on the board. Occupations can bring
experience to the school board that can impact decisions that are made. For
example, an accountant would be helpful when talking about the budget. A
contractor would be great when issues such as building repairs come up.
Our school board also has a police officer as a member. As scary as it
sounds, issues such as drugs, fighting, and sexual assaults are more
common. A police officer might have some insight on how to deal with these
problems. While some may feel that diversity is hard to deal with, it is
becoming more popular in the workplace.
I was apprehensive about attending a board meeting for the first time.
I didnt know what to expect and I certainly didnt want to find myself as the
only parent attending. This was not the case. It gives me great satisfaction
to know that there are other parents that want to be involved in our school
district. After completing this project, I will most likely continue to attend


these meetings. Our school board works hard to make our district safe while
giving our children a good education. For that I am grateful for the work that
they do. The Pennfield school board is setting attainable goals and
accomplishing them while following their mission.

Johnson, D.W., & Johnson, F.P. (2009). Joining together; group theory and
group skills (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Pennfield school board. Retrieved from