Rochester Community Schools Announces New Board Member Jessica Gupta

Rochester, MI - During a special meeting broadcast live to the public Wednesday evening, Jessica Gupta was approved by the Board of Education of the Rochester Community School District to fill the trustee position vacated by Mike Zabat.

Jessica’s service began immediately following the oath of office, which was administered by Vice President Kristin Bull. The term for this volunteer position will continue through December 31, 2022.

In appointing Jessica, Board members cited her longtime involvement with RCS, including her leadership in FIRST Robotics districtwide, and her professional background in mental health.

The Board of Education followed the Revised School Code and Michigan Election Law in appointing an eligible candidate to fill the trustee position. Four candidates interviewed at the public board meeting. Following the meeting, Board members took the opportunity to thank the candidates for their interest in public service and willingness to dedicate their time and talents for the good of the school district.

Current positions and terms of service include: President Kevin Beers (2022), Vice President Kristin Bull (2026), Treasurer Michelle Bueltel (2024), Secretary Joe Pittel (2022), Trustee Barb Anness (2024), Trustee Scott Muska (2026), and Jessica Gupta (2022).

(l) Board Vice President Kristin Bull administered the oath of office, (c) Jessica Gupta, Trustee RCS Board of Education, (r) Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaner congratulates Jessica Gupta

Jessica Gupta's Answers to the nine questions in the RCS Board of Education Vacancy Application

1. Are you a U.S. Citizen?


2. Are you a registered voter in the Rochester Community School District?


3. Are you aware of any personal or economic interests or business relationships that could restrict your ability to effectively serve in this non-partisan role? This may include participation in other groups, advocacy roles, etc. If yes, please explain?

I am not actively involved in any partisan groups that would conflict with the Trustee role. I am committed to maintaining an objective and non-partisan approach to this role, should I be appointed. My long-standing volunteerism with the Rochester High School robotics team may require limited recusals from relevant discussions to prevent any potential perception of conflicting interests.

4. An average month for a school board member includes approximately 3-4 scheduled meetings, often in addition to other school or community-related activities. There is also daily email correspondence, required reading, and district updates. How will you fit this into your schedule?

I have a established track record of being able to juggle multiple commitments and roles effectively. As the owner of a successful small business, a college instructor, engaged parent, and active community volunteer, I have demonstrated that I am able to balance multiple responsibilities simultaneously. If appointed to the Trustee role, I would prioritize time on my calendar to ensure that I am reliably available to contribute in the most productive ways possible.

5. Explain why you are interested in serving as a trustee on the Board of Education of the Rochester Community School District.

Currently, while students are experiencing increasing rates of mental health challenges and community stakeholders are navigating perpetual change, the need for leaders who can balance collaborative understanding, strategic oversight, and meaningful communication, is critically important to ensure the best possible long-term outcomes for students. I believe that I can deliver these contributions because my professional and volunteer experiences provide a well-informed foundation for navigating what students need to succeed in the school setting.

As a therapist, I have gained unique insights and knowledge about how the pandemic has impacted students, their learning experiences, and future outlooks. I am a highly competent crisis responder, with 15 years of experience collaborating effectively across diverse stakeholder groups. I value productive communication, transparency, and accountability. These are attributes that would benefit the school board as we transition from this phase of the pandemic into the strategic planning process.

6. Describe biographical information and relevant qualities and skills you would bring to the position.

I am a licensed clinical social worker, a college instructor of multiple social work courses, and the owner of a successful private practice. Previously, I worked as the School Liaison for the largest nonprofit hospice organization in northeastern Ohio, guiding school administrators to provide effective support to the full school community, when a sudden loss occurred. These professional experiences combined with my natural strengths yield strong interpersonal, organizational, and communication skills.

My commitment and desire to seek the best outcomes for children is evident in every aspect of my work experience and volunteer history. My ability to organize, analyze and digest high volumes of complicated content in a timely manner, as is required each time I prepare to teach a new course or work with a new client, would serve this role well. Finally, my ability to be practical and pragmatic in a context of finite resources and regulatory challenges is another attribute that I believe would be a strength in this role.

7. On a continuum of “detail-oriented doer” to “big picture thinker,” where do you tend to be most comfortable operating? Why? How do you see this approach fitting with the role of a board trustee?

Throughout my career, I have learned to balance the big picture vision with the necessary details required to achieve that vision. I have a demonstrated track record of creative thinking about transformative changes while also being able to break that vision down into logical steps that make vision attainment possible. One of my strong suits, according to feedback from colleagues, is that I am highly capable of thinking through nuances, different perspectives, and maintaining objectivity.

As a social worker, I am highly competent at flexing and adapting in resilient ways to meet the needs of the moment, a quality that would have direct transferability to the Trustee role. This integrated work style, that can synthesize both the long-term vision with the day-to-day practicalities associated with that vision, is exemplified in all my experience. These qualities would be an asset to the Trustee role, which requires the ability to simultaneously support the district’s long-term success while overseeing current operational decisions with objectivity and sound judgment.

8. Describe a specific time in which you were new to a group or organization. What was the situation? What was your approach to “coming up to speed” and building relationships with your new team? What did you do, and what was the result?

Never in a million years did I ever expect to become a mentor on a high school robotics team. Yet, when our children become excited about something, a parent's natural inclination is to be excited too. Little did I know that this excitement would blossom into a five-year tenure as a high school robotics mentor. Without any engineering background, I assumed my volunteering would include managing lunches, chaperoning, and transportation. In our second year, when my husband and I were asked to lead the team, we worked to better understand the mission of the program, the students' goals, and set out to create an environment conducive to student success.

My background turned out to be highly relevant in this process as we have been able to build lifelong mentoring relationships for students, a highly sustainable program, and expand the FIRST program to all schools in our district. Our team consistently achieves ambitious goals, through a lot of hard work, relationship-building, and innovation. Students affectionately refer to me as "Team Mom." My proudest contributions to the team include helping students achieve their goals, improving long-term program sustainability, and expanding access to the FIRST program to all RCS students.

9. What do you think should be the top priority for the district, and how would you, as a board member, support that priority?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced all of us to navigate an uncertain and often disappointing terrain. The impact of the pandemic on our students and community members at-large will continue to require adaptable responsiveness on the part of public institutions for the foreseeable future. To continue providing the excellent public education experience our students deserve, we must sustain community trust. In my estimation, effective communication, transparency, and empathy make this possible.

As a board member, I will support this priority by using my passion for children and investment in the community to build and maintain trust with diverse stakeholders, to identify new opportunities for transparent communication, constructive dialogue, and reasonable mechanisms for public input. The social and emotional well-being of students, teachers and other district staff warrants an equally high priority of attention. The varied impact of pandemic-related adversity on social, emotional, physical, and mental development requires ongoing proactive attention, rooted in best practices. Retention of highly qualified teachers is also an essential priority. As an educator and mental health therapist, I am well-prepared to take on these challenges and eager to collaborate on solutions to maximize positive outcomes for students.


Rochester Community Schools Mission

To provide a quality education in a caring atmosphere for students to attain the necessary skills and knowledge to become lifelong learners and contribute to a diverse, interdependent and changing world.

Mar 24, 2022, Rochester.Life Staff

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