Shane Gordon may not have a direct personal connection to Crosslake Community School, but that isn't stopping him from making a difference in the lives of its students and staff.
Gordon is the newest community member of the Crosslake Community School Board after his request to join was accepted at the beginning of the board's April meeting. He was able to participate in board activity that same day.
"I've always wanted to contribute in some way to children," said Gordon. "If you can help children, then that makes better adults."
Gordon learned of the open position from board chair Lori Scharenbroich. After researching the school online, he saw its dedication to environmental education and thought it might be a place he could do some good. Gordon has a degree in wildlife and fisheries management from Central Lakes College.
"It just seemed like, wow, this is perfect, that they need somebody and it's right up my alley with the kind of things that I'm interested in. So I came to a meeting and it seemed like a good fit," said Gordon. "I think it will be."
This is Gordon's first time participating in local government. He didn't necessarily see anything wrong with how the school board has been operating, but feels pulled to continue improving his community wherever he can.
"In general, I always see things that could be done better, and I think I should probably try to do that," he said. "Yeah, I think I can contribute to the school board with my own unique take on things."
Gordon attended a couple school board meetings as a spectator to get a feel for the group. After the board accepted him as the newest member during the third meeting he attended, he joined in conversations and participated in decisions immediately. Gordon said he was surprised at how quickly he was able to contribute just minutes after the vote to accept him.
"It did feel good, it felt right," he said. "It felt like what I should be doing. It did make me happy to have it become official like that."
Outside of his new school board duties, Gordon works for Minnesota Computer Systems, Inc. as a print technology specialist. He provides financial analysis for organizations and companies about how much they spend on printing and what equipment might be able to save them money.
In his free time, Gordon practices martial arts. His favorite fun fact about himself is that he is technically an undefeated mixed martial arts fighter, because he won the only fight he ever participated in at age 23.
He still trains in jiujitsu, however, and has a blue belt. This month he planned to travel to Chicago for a competition.
Gordon's family also keeps him busy. He and his wife have children ages 11, 2 and 1, and another on the way.
"They're tons of fun and tons of work," he said.
Gordon's love for his own children fueled his desire to help all of the children in his community by joining the school board.
"I'm always trying to learn more about how people work psychologically," he said. "How people can grow and become better people. None of us innately knows the right way, and so I want to help my own children, and help other people too."
With his new role on the Crosslake Community School Board, Gordon wants to make sure he is available to people, does the job to the fullest and listens to those around him.
"I don't know how much freedom I have to really change the world, but I mean, I'm definitely a voice in there and I can positively affect the children," he said. "Whereas with my job and my own family, I don't have a lot of time to go out and affect this many people at one time. It is important to me to do the best that I can... If people know that, then they can come to me and I'll do what I can."