WOODSTOCK – Kathy (Lechner) Welch was almost a teacher.
Instead, after choosing a path in nursing, she let her interest in education blossom into a long tenure on the District 200 School Board. Tuesday, her 13 years with the board came to a close at her final board meeting.
With a move outside district boundaries following her recent marriage, Welch isn't able to keep her spot.
"I've truly loved and been honored to be a part of District 200," she said Friday. "That holds a special place in my heart."
Welch was first elected to the board in 1997, and served as its president in 2004-2005. She retired in 2005, deciding she wanted to concentrate on personal things. But she soon wanted back on the board.
She was re-elected in 2009, and again in 2013.
Welch said she joined the board at a time when its relationship with the public was rocky. Through transparency and increased communication with the community, the board has regained the public's trust, she said – a point she says is evidenced by the board's successful referendums to build Creekside Middle School, Prairiewood Elementary and Woodstock North High School.
But some of her favorite moments came from the student recognition portion of board meetings.
"I've gotten great gratification," Welch said. "I loved to see the kids grow and prosper."
Welch's commitment to all students is something her colleague's noted.
"She was able to look at the big picture to look at those things that will benefit all different groups of kids," Superintendent Ellyn Wrzeski said. "[She was] very sensitive to that."
Welch has two children employed by the district, several grandchildren in its schools and more on their way. She said she plans to stay involved in any capacity she can.
District 200 has started accepting applications to fill her spot. The new board member will be appointed in April. The seat will come up for re-election in spring 2015.