Dave Teske is one of three candidates vying for two spots on the Carroll Community School District school board.
Dave Teske is one of three candidates vying for two spots on the Carroll Community School District school board.
September 6, 2013

Former baseball coach, high school valedictorian and father of three, including a disabled daughter, write-in candidate Dave Teske believes he will bring a unique ability to "defend the little people" to the Carroll Community School District board of education.

"Now I don't mean that in a terrible way," he quickly clarified with a laugh. "Just that I have had experience with the whole range of different students."

To his own school experience as a leader in both academics and athletics in a rural Iowa school, Teske is able to add his interactions with young men from a variety of familial and class backgrounds who crossed his path as a college baseball coach, as well as the experience of his daughter, Delaney, a seventh-grader at Carroll Middle School who has cerebral palsy.

"I have three kids, all intellectually capable, great students with great character," he said of Delaney and her siblings, senior Daric and sophomore Dakota, who both attend Carroll High School. "And I have been fortunate enough, and I say fortunate, to have a daughter with special needs," he added. "She's been a blessing all around, and it has given me a unique experience with schools."

It has caused him to consider issues behind the scenes, including infrastructure and support systems - Are the bathrooms handicapped accessible? Is there a bar in the stall to pull oneself up?

Teske said the inclusion of special-needs students at Carroll schools has been fantastic, not only in the administration's accommodation of the students' physical needs, but also through their peers' acceptance of them.

He retold one of his son's favorite stories, starring the outgoing Christina Lampe, one of the girls who participates in the Teskes' annual Dreams Made True pageant field each year for girls with special needs. According to Teske, she has no problem approaching boys in the halls to walk her to class. The best part of the story is that the boys follow through.

"I coached a lot of these guys back in fourth, fifth, sixth grade, they were the popular kids and still are, on the cliquey side, who could just sit there and blow people off," Teske explained. "They've got time for people like that, and that's really cool about Carroll schools and the integrated program they have, especially the Little Tiger preschool. Exposing those kids to special-needs people early like that lets them see them as people, not just as challenged individuals."

It is a legacy Teske hopes to build even further if elected to the board. However, it was actually the realization that his son Daric would graduate in the spring that prompted Teske to act.

"I remember being on stage when my dad was president of the school board and he got to hand me my diploma," he recalled. "I think it was as big for me as it was for my dad, and to experience that with my kids would be something."

He also saw an opportunity to set an example, to his children and other community members, young and old alike.

"In community service, when you believe in something and it's worth pursuing, go after it wholeheartedly and put forth the max effort while you do it," he said.

In addition to his work as a coach, he has also held leadership positions in the office, such as his current position as customer service and quality assurance manager at Anthony International in Audubon, and as an elder at his local church.

"I really enjoy the responsibility, and feel like I can shoulder that responsibility and be a voice for somebody," Teske said. "I can be a pretty good listener. My wife isn't here so I can say that," he added with a laugh.

Dayna, a third-grade teacher at Ar-We-Va, arrived a few minutes later, nodding in agreement as he commented on current and local education issues.

As more and more schools consolidate across the state, Teske said, he could see the merit in the increased attention of small classes, but also in the ability to expand the curriculum in larger classes, suggesting that his career in coaching baseball could have taken a very different turn had the sole foreign language offered been Spanish instead of French.

On transportation agreements between Kuemper Catholic Schools and Carroll, Teske said Carroll incurs an expense, and sees nothing wrong with a fee.

"So long as they are legitimate costs, not inflated, they don't need to be gouged, but if Kuemper had the fleet they'd incur some sort of expense for wear and tear and gas," he said. "It doesn't make sense to have separate fleets when they're going to the same places anyway."

He supports the increase of technology in the schools.

"The more we can expose kids to technology and the earlier, it's great," he said. "There is more stuff out there. Every kid is going to find something that interest them and pull it into the classroom."

This availability for students to work somewhat independently helps counter what he sees as the main flaw he finds in any national education initiative - the averaging of intelligence.

"It breeds mediocrity," he said. "I like the way it pulls up the bottom, but I don't like the way it pulls down the top. It eliminates the ability to excel. I don't think it sets students up for success in life. When you get out of school you don't look for average, you look for the best. You have to learn to compete and be the best in what you do."

He doesn't particularly care for standardized testing either, stating that a student can memorize facts, but but that doesn't mean they understand the impact of the people and events in them.

"I agree that teachers should be tied to class performance, but I don't know what that performance indicator should be," he said. "I'm not sure anybody does. How do you define success?"

Teske describes Carroll as very progressive, blessed with students who have "some really special gifts." He encourages the community to get involved, be it through a check to the booster club, a ticket to a football game, or attendance of a free choir concert. He believes the school also does a good job of cooperating with local businesses and volunteers to work with students.

"Those relationships just continue in the community as well, and kids remember that kind of stuff," he said.

The election will be Tuesday, Sept. 10. Both "Dave Teske" and "Delaney's Dad" will be accepted as write-in votes for Teske.

Along with Teske's write-in effort, candidates on the ballot will be Duane Horsley and Jen Munson. Board members Jerry Fleshner and Dennis Molitor are not running for re-election. All members of the board are elected at-large. The top two vote-getters will be elected and serve four-year terms. Other board positions are currently held by LaVern Dirkx, Dan Tiefenthaler and Kim Tiefenthaler.