Tom Tolen /

Two departing members of the Brighton Board of Education were honored this week with Shining Star awards.

Ken Stahl and Laura Mitchell were both presented certificates by Board President Roger Myers. He praised them for their dedicated service, thanking them for overcoming “challenges that almost seemed to arrive on a daily basis."

Stahl served a total of eight years - two, 4-year terms - while Mitchell served one term, from 2018 through this year. Although Stahl received over 7,900 votes, he placed fourth among six candidates. The top three vote-getters - Jennifer Marks, incumbent Angela Krebs and Andy Storm - were elected to 4-year terms.

Mitchell, the outgoing school board treasurer, chose not to run for another term. She told WHMI that leaving “is bittersweet.” She said the most challenging time during her tenure was during the height of the pandemic.

“COVID was very difficult - keeping the kids in school.” Still, Mitchell says the board felt vindicated when Brighton’s test scores went up during the height of the pandemic, while scores in other districts declined. She said although she received a lot of flak for the masking mandate, not being a doctor, she had to rely on the guidance of the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services. The chief assistant public defender for Livingston County, Mitchell is married and has a daughter in the 8th grade at Scranton Middle School.

Stahl, like Mitchell, called his departure bittersweet. He admitted to WHMI that, “(Losing) the election was a disappointment,” adding that, quote, “(Being a board member) has been a big part of my life for almost a decade.” He said navigating the district through the COVID pandemic was extremely difficult, saying, "We made some big decisions, making sure the kids were safe and providing the best education possible.” The outgoing board vice president, Stahl said he will likely run again in 2024, when four seats become open.

Stahl and Trustee John Conely have had their disagreements over the years, but Stahl defends him, saying, “John always does what’s best for kids.” Conely even apologized at Monday's meeting for opposing the 2012 bond issue, saying that, in retrospect, the improvements it made possible turned out to be the right decision. Though not on the school board at the time, Stahl chaired the steering committee for the successful, $98.5 million bond issue.

Stahl is married and has three children - two of whom are college graduates, with the youngest being an 8th grader at Scranton Middle School.

Mitchell summed up the feelings of Stahl and herself when she said that while serving on a school board is challenging, it can be very gratifying. She said, “People don’t realize how much time and effort goes into it, but (on balance), there is a lot of reward.”

The two new members who will replace Stahl and Mitchell will take their seats on Jan. 9th when the board meets in organizational session. The session will be held in the board meeting room on the second floor of the Brighton Education and Community Center (BECC) at 7pm.