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News School Board Candidate Forum – Oct 18, 7 p.m. HS Library

Published on October 7, 2021

School Board Candidate Forum
Monday, October 18, 2021
High School Library
7:00 p.m.

There are 3 school board positions on this year’s election ballot:


  • Elisa Klahsen (Incumbent)
  • Kevin Jones

District 1 – Held by Annette Smith (not running)

  • Jeana Clark
    Jesse Peterson

District 2

  • Joan Corbin (Incumbent)

Be sure to vote on November 2!

Nov. 2021 – Board Candidates BIOs

Jeana Clark, MBA – District I Candidate

Entrepreneur, educator and experienced leader committed to school governance focused on student achievement while being a good steward of the community’s investment in the education of all students in the district. A passion for communication and learning led her to start an international marcom agency soon after graduating from Central College — later teaching Business and Marketing at her alma mater where she has also overseen the for-credit component of the Business Horizons entrepreneurship program for Iowa high school students.

Serving more than a decade in leadership positions on non-profit boards including a term on Pella’s own fair-trade shop, The Work of Our Hands, she is well prepared to fulfill responsibilities in all areas of board work.

Key skills utilized in her current National Accounts Sales role at Pella Corporation managing partnerships between key stakeholders for stores and customers across the U.S. include relationship building, responsiveness and problem solving across cultures.

Her outlook on life is that every day is a new opportunity to improve and be a blessing to others.

Favorite free-time activities are early morning jogs, fitness classes and football games or relaxing with family at a favorite Red Rock Park and enjoying the outdoors.

Lifelong learning, asking tough questions with an inquisitive mindset and a conscientious commitment to board responsibilities is of utmost importance.

Contact info: |

Jesse Peterson – District I Candidate

Jesse and his wife, Katie (Bandstra) Peterson have lived in Pella for the past 20 years. They have two kids who have graduated from Pella High (Braydon and Annika) and one at the Pella Middle School (Jace). Many in the community still recognize Jesse from his former Central Dutch Football days! When Jesse is not leading and managing his small business, you will likely find him at area events supporting the Dutch! Jesse is passionate about family values; and would be an advocate for ensuring that the values in the district are an extension of home values. Because Jess worked at both Pella Corp and Vermeer before starting his own business, he has many relationships within the community of Pella as well as the area farming community. He appreciates the way the Pella School District is intentional about building bridges between the schools and community and will continue to build and enhance those great relationships. He also understands the construction side of growth and with his knowledge, has potential to save the district thousands of dollars as they are looking to expand. Jesse believes that leadership matters, and he is a team player who uses common sense leadership to guide decisions and see the big picture.

Kevin Jones – At Large Candidate

My name is Dr. Kevin Jones. I have lived in Pella for the last twelve years with my wife, Michelle (Van Vark) Jones and our five children (Ryker, Finn, Beckett, Nelle, and Amos) ages 1 to 11 years of age. Michelle and her family have called Pella home for generations. She graduated from Pella High School and later Central College before I was lucky enough to meet her at the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago. As optometrists, we are now blessed to live and work back in her hometown, operating the Family Eyecare Center, across from the Vermeer Windmill in downtown Pella. I have been blessed to put down roots here. We have a wonderful church family at Liberty E-Free, where I volunteer with a variety of children’s ministries, including Children’s Church and our Wednesday night Awana’s program. We also appreciate the community’s many recreation programs, and it has been my privilege to sponsor and coach several Little League teams through the years. As a business owner, I have also served as a board member of the Pella Chamber of Commerce and as a liaison for the Dollars for Scholars Board. Being born and raised in Ontario, Canada, I have a unique appreciation for the freedoms and opportunities in America. And, proudly, after a rigorous years-long process, I can now call myself an American, having officially completed my citizenship requirements in February of this year. I love living, learning, and working in Pella, and am excited for new ways to continue to serve our beautiful community.

Elisa Klahsen – At Large Incumbent Candidate

Elisa Klahsen is a Pella graduate and a proud Pella parent of two daughters. During the day, she designs and supports IT applications for Vermeer. Prior to the Pella Community School Board, she was a PTO member, robotics class mentor, School Improvement Advisory Council member, and parent volunteer. Her favorite thing about Pella Community School District is the amazing variety of experiences available to Pella students.

Joan Corbin – District II Incumbent Candidate

In 2004, just after my eldest son graduated from Pella High School, I was approached to consider a write-in campaign for a vacant seat that had no potential candidates, nor papers filed. At the time, we had 5 other children in the system and two toddlers at home, so I determined it was a good fit. I ran and was elected. I couldn’t have predicted at the time how much I would love board service, I just knew I valued public education. Though I have a background in teaching in the public school system (Early Childhood Special Education), I knew nothing at the outset about the role of the board. Through service on the Iowa Association of School Boards, as well as participating in board workshops/trainings with our board, I have learned a great deal about the role of the board and how highly functioning boards can and do impact student achievement.

As board members, we each have our own lenses through which we filter and view information, using our own background knowledge, areas of expertise, our values and life experiences. What I’ve learned about school board service over the years is that the very best governance occurs when members are aware of their own belief systems, maintain healthy core values about humanity, common good, and high achievement, yet are intellectually curious and listen with an

intent to understand other members so that decisions are made that support the mission/vision of the district. The healthiest boards spend time figuring out how to make good decisions together, respect the process, and walk away from the board table with a short memory of individual votes and healthy support for the collective will.

I enjoy the process of wrestling to make good decisions, through questioning, investigating and considering possibilities. As a leader, I enjoy parliamentary procedure and the process of building consensus. Understanding jurisdictions or board/administrative roles is a value of mine and I am continually learning to better understand and work within those roles. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with our administrative team over the years; Mr. Ebeling facilitates a fantastic group of leaders. Coming into this election with a bond issue on the ballot is very exciting; our district is experiencing growth and the potential to plan and build for that growth is wonderful. I am so proud of the teachers, associates, and everyone who touches kids in our fine district; they are nothing short of amazing!

One of my favorite board duties is handing out diplomas; I love looking at the sea of graduates with definite pride in our great school system, mixed with “how can we get better?” Handing diplomas to my own children has been a special blessing; I’ve been able to do so with my sons, Aaron and Nicholas, and my daughters,Megan,Angel,Hope and Claire, with 8,Ella, to follow in 2022. I am “Amma Joan” to 10 grandchildren, with #11 expected in December, have been married to my husband, Dave Corbin, for 39 years, enjoy riding my fat tire bike, swimming, Crossfit, friendships and health/nutrition.

Pella Community Board Service: 2004 – present
Iowa Association of School Boards, Director 2010 – 2017, Board President, 2017-2019; Past President 2019-present
Iowa Public Information Board – 2020 – present