Thank You, Board of Education!

Pictured from left: Larry Knox, Susan Casaleggi, Christopher Castellanos, Douglas Beck, Patricia Zahn, Michael McNeil, and Thomas Bellavia

Affton School District will join communities across the state to honor the dedicated service of our local school board during School Board Recognition Week, Jan. 20-26.  The focus of this week is on building awareness and understanding of the important function an elected board has on communities and schools.

“The members of the Affton School District Board of Education are instrumental in ensuring the best possible education and opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Steve Brotherton, superintendent. “Their contributions and the countless hours of service they devote to the district and community are invaluable. They make Affton a better place.”

Each of the seven members of the Board of Education is publicly elected to serve as the educational advocate of the community. School board members are volunteers that receive no compensation for their service.

Proclaimed by Governor Jay Nixon, School Board Recognition Week is sponsored by the Missouri School Boards’ Association, MSBA.  This organization is a private, nonprofit organization that exists to help boards succeed.

Learn more about the members of the Affton School District Board of Education below:

Michael McNeil, President, was elected to the Affton Board of Education in 2007, has since been re-elected twice and will begin serving his fourth term in April 2013.  Mr. McNeil runs Oasis Digital Solutions, a software development company that works with Fortune 500 companies and builds enterprise software. He also owns local businesses that sell technology products online and offer design and engineering services.

“I really enjoy graduation each year; seeing kids come through and heading toward their future,” says McNeil. “It’s exciting to see them transition from Affton to new beginnings, and know that we have prepared them for new opportunities.”

He and his wife, Lynn, have three children, all of whom are Affton graduates and are currently in college. McNeil also helps organize the Affton Basketball League, and enjoys playing with new technologies in his down time.

Douglas Beck, Vice President, was elected to the Affton Board of Education in 2009 and has since been re-elected once. Mr. Beck is a pipefitter, and enjoys helping people and serving the Affton community.

“I really like looking back at what’s been accomplished and all the positive change we’ve implemented in the last four years,” says Beck. “I enjoy the challenge of trying to make things better. Community service certainly isn’t glamorous, but it absolutely is worthwhile.”

Beck and his wife, Marilyn, have two children – their daughter attended Affton schools and is now a teacher, and their son is an Affton graduate. Although most of Beck’s downtime is spent serving causes and charities, he also enjoys camping with his family and is a rabid Rams fan.

Thomas Bellavia, Treasurer, was interviewed and appointed to the Affton Board of Education in 2008 and has since been re-elected twice. Mr. Bellavia serves as Senior Vice President Director of Global Treasury Management for BMO Harris Bank, assisting business clients with their operational cash flow.

“I enjoy getting to see the progress that students are making,” said Bellavia. “It’s rewarding when both students and teachers are excited about completing a project or accomplishing something and they want to show the School Board.”

Bellavia’s wife, Kathy, works in the district, and they have three boys – two Affton graduates and their youngest is currently a senior at Affton High School. In his free time, he enjoys being involved in sports, either watching St. Louis teams or cheering on Affton teams.

Susan Casaleggi, Director, was elected to the Affton Board of Education in 2011. Ms. Casaleggi co-owns ABC Animal & Insect Innovations with her husband, Mark. The company specializes in animal removal and insect control, and Ms. Casaleggi handles mole removal and office work for the business.

“My favorite part of working with the Affton Schools is the kids,” says Casaleggi. “I really enjoy going into the classrooms when I have time. It’s so fun to see learning as it happens.”

Casaleggi and her husband have two daughters, both Affton graduates and both teachers – one for a charter school in St. Louis city, and the other for Rogers Middle School. In her downtime, she enjoys exercising, reading and serving her church.

Christopher Castellanos, Director, was elected to the Affton Board of Education in 2010, and will begin serving his second term in April 2013. Mr. Castellanos serves as an attorney at Lashly & Baer, P.C.

“I like knowing that I’m contributing to the community,” says Castellanos, “and that we are doing our best to help Affton schools improve.”

Castellanos has two children – a daughter who is a junior at Affton High School and a son who is in eighth-grade at Rogers Middle School. He enjoys playing chess in his downtime.

Larry Knox, Director, was elected to the Affton Board of Education in 2009 and has since been re-elected once. Mr. Knox has worked for Zep Chemical Company as a salesperson for 25 years, and spent his career prior to that in retail management.

“I have come to appreciate every age and grade-level of our students,” says Knox. “I also have a deep appreciation for our staff. No matter the question asked, they are always professional, knowledgeable and informative.”

Knox and his wife, Pam, who serves as the director for the Affton Community Volunteer Organization (ACVO), have been married almost 45 years. They have two sons and four grandchildren. Knox helps coach first-grade and fourth-grade girls basketball teams for his granddaughters and enjoys being involved in sports activities, as well as spending time with family.

Patricia Zahn, Director, was interviewed and appointed to the Affton Board of Education in 2011 and has since been re-elected once. Ms. Zahn works for the University of Missouri – St. Louis as the director of the Des Lee Collaborative Vision, whose primary function is working with faculty who are involved in the community in a variety of ways.

“My favorite part of serving on the School Board is the children, and knowing that we’re making a difference,” says Zahn. “We are helping provide so many opportunities for kids to do whatever it is that they hope and want to do in the future.”

Zahn and her husband, Martin, who works for Special School District (SSD) and is currently stationed at Affton High School, have a son who is an Affton graduate. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family, most of whom live in the Affton community.