From being a student at Odell, to working as a board member at Diller-Odell Public Schools for over 20 years, Gary Stohs has been heavily involved in the community.
In recognition of his service, Stohs received the Outstanding Board Member Award from the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association.
Mike Meyerle, Diller-Odell’s superintendent, submitted Stohs for the award to recognize him for his contributions in merging Diller Schools and Odell Schools in 2000.
“Gary’s opinion and thoughts are always held in high regard because they are not self-serving,” Meyerle said. "He does a great job of balancing being fiscally responsible, while still having a vision for the future for our district and communities, and supporting improvements to make our school district stronger.”
Stohs said he was elected to the Odell School Board in 1996 after being urged to run by then Superintendent Milford Smith.
“I was asked by a board member when coming on what my agenda was,” Stohs said. “I told them mine was to ensure that the school would still be here to educate my kids, and that they got as good or better education than I got when I graduated.”
Stohs explained that his son, Adam, started school in Odell as a Tiger and finished school in Odell as a Diller-Odell Griffin. Meanwhile his younger son, Kyle, was in the first class to start Kindergarten in Diller under the merged district, which was also the first class to go through all 13 grades and graduate as Diller-Odell Griffins.
Even though his sons have graduated, Stohs said his agenda is still the same.
“I’m still in it for the kids,” Stohs said. “I still go to all the ball games. I’m very, very interested in the activities at school. It’s a way to keep in touch with the kids that are still there.”
Jack Moles, NRCSA’s Executive Director, said that the awards go to people that are highly thought of in their districts.
“Gary Stohs is just one of those great people,” Moles said. “He is highly supportive of the school, staff, and most importantly the kids. He is involved in the community and has been a strong and progressive leader for the school district. He is a very, very worthy recipient and NRCSA is proud of him for what he does.”
Stohs said the district and patrons have been supportive as well, which has allowed the school board and administration to accomplish projects like adding a preschool program, remodeling both facilities, and upgrading the football field, among other things.
Stohs stressed the importance of balancing wants and needs.
“You need to find the way to balance the wants and needs of the students first and foremost with the teachers’ wants and needs,” Stohs said. “This also has to be weighed against the desires and requirements of the Administration along with the State and Federal Government. Then, you need to find the way to balance this against the taxpayer tolerance. But most importantly, you shouldn’t be trying to do the job for yourself or your own agenda. Because if you are trying to do that, there will be no way to find any balance with any of the others.”