Ruth T. Keimig, a member of Calvert County's first elected school board, a former teacher and a longtime advocate of opening the school system to community input, announced Thursday that she will not seek another term.
"I've decided to hang up my hat and live as a retired person," Keimig, 66, told school board members during last week's meeting. "It's time for me to move on." Keimig has 13 months remaining in her term.
A native of Baltimore and longtime Lusby resident, Keimig taught for nearly 30 years--11 of them in Calvert County's public school system--and raised three children.
She retired from teaching in 1995, but her hiatus from education was short-lived. She came out of retirement the following year to run for the 1st District seat on the Board of Education. It was the first time the board would be elected, not appointed, and Keimig worried there would be a shortage of candidates concentrating on students' welfare, rather than politics.
"There was just this sense of responsibility, of concern about who would run, that I couldn't shake," she said.
She won the election and went on to serve as a vocal board member who constantly reminded school officials, county officials and community members that those on the school board were elected officials to be held accountable for their decisions and actions.
During board meetings, she often called for public forums, arguing that the school board had to improve its communication with the community. She wrote letters to newspapers, urging county commissioners to enlarge the commercial tax base to provide more funds to public schools.
As one of the only longtime educators sitting on the board, she advocated that the school system place more emphasis on instruction by beefing up early childhood education initiatives and paying more personal attention to students.
"The system really has committed itself to focusing more individualized kinds of learning for students who in the past may have been allowed to coast through," she said, crediting the school system's staff, not the school board, for the improvements.
Keimig said she is most proud of being part of the first elected school board and the decision to bring in a new superintendent, James R. Hook, at a time when many thought the middle and high schools were being ignored.
"He has really brought the system back," she said. "It was very demoralized when he came in."
Keimig said she plans to remain involved in the public school system in a different capacity.
"I feel the need to find less demanding ways to serve the community," she said. "I have reached the point in life where I need to spend more time maintaining fitness in order to maintain health."