Meet Ferndale School Board Member Jessie Deardorff
Published January 19, 2021
Elected in November 2019, Jessie Deardorff is one of the newest member of the Ferndale School Board. However, she experienced a decade’s worth of decision-making challenges during 2020. She had to deal with the worst pandemic in a century, which necessitated the reinvention of a whole system of schooling; a serious economic situation, starting with a failed levy, intensified by the virus, and exacerbated by decreased enrollment, which required laying off nearly 150 district employees; a nation making enraged demands that we take a hard look at systemic racism; and, along with all of it, the design of a multi-million-dollar new high school facility. Jessie’s first year on the school board was definitely eventful!
Asked why she chose to pursue a seat on the board, Jessie says, “As a Native American, I saw the lack of representation among district leaders. I want our Native American children to see someone who looks like them in a decision-making role. I want them to be safe and to be treated fairly in Ferndale, and I was willing to be their voice.”
Jessie is an enrolled member of the Lummi Nation, a multi-generational resident of the Ferndale community, a graduate of Ferndale High School, and the parent of children also attended Ferndale schools. In addition, she is a professional educator herself with a Master’s degree from Western Washington University. “ My father and mother, both survivors of government boarding schools, encouraged me to pursue education,” she says. However, she describes herself currently as “happily retired from working in education and working for my tribe.”
Jessie has been married for 23 years. Together, she and her husband, Leroy, have 7 children, 12 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.
Her greatest goal is to see all Lummi children succeed. She is proud of the fact that the Ferndale School Board has put such a high priority on working toward equality, equity, and inclusion. “My greatest hope for the future of our district is that all children are treated fairly, understood, and welcomed with great enthusiasm, so they can be happy and healthy, both physically and spiritually.”
Thank you, School Board Member Jessie Deardorff! We appreciate you!