OGDEN -- Joyce Wilson is passionate about students in the Ogden School District. So passionate that she serves on the school board and then volunteers up to 40 hours a week producing school musicals throughout the district.
Wilson is just completing her seventh year on the school board and has been involved with musical theater in the district for five years, since her daughter performed in an Ogden High School musical.
"I went to one of those mandatory parent meetings, and only about six parents were there," Wilson said. She didn't know how things were going to go with such a small number of parents involved. But she says she witnessed the kids produce magic from the musical, and she has never looked back. Her daughter has since graduated, but Wilson hasn't left the stage.
She decided when she ran for the school board seat seven years ago that she wasn't happy being a bystander, and she wanted to get her hands on the work that was going on in the district, both in the classroom and after school.
As a school board member she works with the community councils and helps schools decide how to distribute funds received from the state's land trust money. School district spokeswoman Donna Corby works with Wilson in that endeavor on the district level.
Speaking of Wilson, Corby said, "She spends countless hours going over legislation, reading plans and attending community council meetings.
"What I've enjoyed most is seeing her pour her heart and soul back into the youth plays and musicals. She is passionate about the arts and well-rounded educational development of our youth."
Wilson became concerned that the momentum the Ogden schools were having with musicals about three years ago might be lost with the renovation of Ogden High School's auditorium and the reconstruction of Ben Lomond High School.
She said she wanted to make sure that didn't happen, so she helped keep things on course. Then she was reeled into Mount Ogden Junior High's musical last year when the choir teacher retired.
She helped produce that musical and then produced the recent junior high musical, "The King and I." She produced the musical performed jointly by Ogden High and Ben Lomond last year, and is now starting with the Ogden High production of "Fiddler on the Roof," which will be performed in February.
Jed Broberg is the director for "Fiddler" and says he has been impressed with Wilson.
"She is amazing. She is my go-to person," Broberg said. He is impressed that she invests so much time in the kids even though she doesn't have any children still in school.
"It's remarkable she's as involved as she is," Broberg said.
Wilson said she can't resist being involved with the theatrical productions when she sees how this activity can change the lives of students.
"For some kids, it gives them a purpose," she said.
Wilson has read many studies that show the importance of art in the schools and saw what an impact it had on her daughter. She believes student activities equal student achievement in all aspects of school.
"The growth you see in kids, even since we have been in rehearsals for a few weeks," she said, referring to "Fiddler" rehearsals. "Kids that think, 'I can't do this,' and they did it and got it done and had fun in the process."
Wilson said she has also been more involved the past few years since she retired from her job at Hill Air Force Base.
"I intend to stay involved until someone kicks me out," she said with a laugh.
Others are glad to hear that too. Corby said the children in the district can only benefit from Wilson's influence. Corby said, "It's truly a pleasure to get to know someone who lives the mission of the Ogden School District. She is making sure that every child gets to do their best."