The Mahomet-Seymour School Board voted unanimously on June 25 to appoint Mahomet resident Jeremy Henrichs to the seat vacated by elected Cheryl Melchi.
Per board policy, Henrichs was interviewed for the seat alongside Ken Keefe and Andy Scheele on June 18. Henrichs and Scheele were first-time candidates while Keefe ran for the school board in 2016, 2014 and 2012.
Henrichs said that deciding to run for school board was just a fleeting thought here and there prior to submitting his application. A family friend — Melchi — mentioned a board vacancy and asked if he was interested.
“Initially, I was a little uncertain. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to,” he said. “That’s what got me thinking about it, but I didn’t say yes or no to that initially. In fact, I probably gave her a negative response initially, and then that’s when I started thinking about it more. And I thought, well, I think it is a worthwhile thing.”
With children in the Mahomet-Seymour School District, Henrichs said that all constituents of the Mahomet-Seymour school district have an “interest in fostering the intellectual, physical and emotional maturity of our students while ensuring their safety and overall well-being,” in his application.
“I think part of the board’s and school district’s responsibility is to create an environment where everyone can flourish; that all can have the opportunity, not all may want that opportunity, but everyone that desires will have an opportunity to flourish in whatever they will pursue. That includes the students, families and faculty,” Henrichs said.
Henrichs also said he may bring a different perspective to the Mahomet-Seymour School Board during his term.
“My background is medical, I may think about things a little differently than someone who is in the business or finance world,” he said.
But, he said he is not joining the Board with an agenda.
“I’m not coming in with ‘this needs to be done’ or ‘this needs to be done.,’ ” he said. “I truly want to do what’s best for our students and our faculty and our family.”
Having not attended a Mahomet-Seymour School Board meeting, Henrichs said that he may be on a learning curve for a time.
“It will be a while before I feel like I am ready to get a handle on things,” he said. “I’ll probably do a lot more listening initially, but I’ll share my opinion when necessary.”
A physician at Carle Foundation Physician Services, within the Orthopedics and Sports Medicine branch, Henrichs also spends his time serving both the Mahomet community and overseas in Africa.
Henrich’s wife, Christine, is also a Carle physician.
Alongside other Christians, the Henrichs family helped to plant a small, mission-oriented church last year that currently meets in rural Mahomet. Henrichs was also on the Mahomet-Seymour Youth Football League Board (a program which provides an opportunity for children in grades 3 through 8 to participate in competitive tackle football).
The Henrichs family also spends their spring break vacation working at an orphanage in Mexico and they go on medical missions to Africa. After spending time with training runners in Africa, Henrichs is working with a team of medical professionals to bring medical care to those who would otherwise not have it.
“Kenyan runners are the best in the world, and they really have no medical care, except for the very elite,” he said.
While working with nearly 2,000 runners who flee their homes to try to escape poverty, Henrichs saw that simple injuries like a hamstring strain or tendinitis often become a chronic issue because the injury does not get the attention it needs to heal.
Henrichs believes by forming the non-profit, Running the Race, which will provide a medical professional for the athletes at all times and by training local Kenyan medical students how to care for the injuries, the athletes will be able to reach their full potential.
“That’s where I feel like God has moved us in that direction,” he said. “To educate, treat and spread the word of God as well.
“The thing that is most important to me is my faith,” he said. “And that’s where our family is centered, around our faith, and I think that drives almost everything that I do. Not that I have an agenda in that, but that’s where I feel like I’m rooted, in Christ, and I love all people.
“We truly want to be the hands and feet of Christ here in our community. And I think our community is bigger than just Mahomet. Our neighbors are the same as they are in Mexico, Africa or the Dominican. We were called to love our neighbor.”
Henrichs said that Mahomet-Seymour constituents are welcome to contact him (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions and concerns as he serves on the Mahomet-Seymour Board of Education.
“I don’t know what I can provide them in the way of answers initially, and I’d probably defer to Max (McComb, Board president) on those things, but the board should be available to the community to respond and ask questions.
“I think there’s always going to be people who have concerns, and they should be able to voice those concerns. We should do our best to answer those and provide the information that we think is necessary or that we are capable to share.”
Henrichs said, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he plans to run for the seat in the 2019 election.
“As long as we are here, whether it is on the board or doing something else, we want to serve the community in whatever way we can,” he added. “Really that is what leadership is about anyway; being a servant to people that are involved.”
McComb said, “Dr. Henrichs is an outstanding addition to our team, and we look forward to welcoming him and continuing our positive work together as a board. We are very happy he expressed an interest and is accepting the offer to join the board.”
Superintendent Lindsey Hall said the Mahomet-Seymour School District holds contracts with both Carle and Health Alliance.
Hall added that there is not a conflict of interest with Henrichs’ employment with Carle and the district’s contracts.
“If a vote came before the board involving Carle/Health Alliance, he would abstain,” Hall said. “This isn’t that uncommon, and in a district our size, it can be difficult to avoid. Board members go through a mandatory training about this type of thing (conflicts of interest, Illinois gift ban law, etc).“