Van Donselaar seeks second term on school board

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Larissa Van Donselaar

Larissa Van Donselaar is seeking a second term on the Knoxville Board of Education.

One of the reasons she is seeking reelection is because of the many good things the district has begun in the past four years. She would like to be on board to continue and build upon them.

Facilities will be a major talking point for the upcoming election, as voters may be presented with a $26 million bond referendum in March to build a new middle school and add on to Northstar Elementary. Van Donselaar says the district needs to be prepared for growth, especially with the possibility that Marion County and the City of Knoxville could be in control of the former VA campus within a few months. Partnerships among public and private entities will be key to the health of the community, including the school district, she believes.

Funding will always be a challenge for the school district, especially given the unknowns regarding the Legislature. Regardless of who is on the board after the Nov. 5 election, Van Donselaar hopes everyone collaborates and works cohesively with a focus on students and the district’s vision. One area she would like to continue offering more opportunities for Knoxville students to learn beyond K-12.

“There’s a lot of solid movement with college and career readiness,” she said. She wants to enable staff to continue thinking outside the box, promoting soft skills among students, as well as mental health and physical wellness. The board should continue to promote a caring community and 21st century learning.

“I would love the opportunity to serve the students and this community for another term,” Van Donselaar said. The district has made progress, seen much success and many wins, but she believes there is still much work to be done. One of her goals for Knoxville graduates is that the leave being proud of who they are, where they came from and confident in their skills to succeed in life.

“Our kids are the best kids around,” she said.

Van Donselaar is the ministry program director at The Well-Knoxville. She works with people who seek resources, as well as churches to discuss how they can share.