Joy Tribbey is excited to continue helping her alma mater as the school board president.
Tribbey was recently voted in as the McAlester Public School Board of Education president and said she knows the school has faced a lot of challenges in her two years already on the board.
With the coronavirus pandemic and social issues nationwide to start 2020, Tribbey said she plans to focus on unity and keeping students and faculty as the top priority in any discussions with the board.
"My focus is to work together," Tribbey said. "I want the community to know that what we do is not easy. It's very hard. We do not take it lightly."
MPS board members voted to require protective face coverings be worn on campuses and the district has implemented protocols to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Tribbey said she doesn't like masks and she's upset that the virus has taken memories and milestones away from students — but she didn't second guess the decision.
"COVID is a whole new area for all of us," Tribbey said. "We have to be kind. We have to remember that we're in it together."
Tribbey replaces former MPS board president Vic Wheeler, who resigned to accept an expanded role with Arvest Bank and move with his family to Jenks.
She said Wheeler's support meant a lot to her and she believes the school board is strong with members Mike Sossamon, Shelli Colbert, and Cameron Fields.
Tribbey said while Wheeler was president, the school board and Superintendent Randy Hughes made decisions with their children, staff, faculty and administration in mind — and she believes that will continue.
"They're in our heads first — we don't make any decision lightly," Tribbey said.
Tribbey graduated from McAlester High School in 1993 and "is a Buffalo through and through.
She was born and raised in McAlester, living outside the town for one year while she attended school at Oklahoma Christian University. She obtained a degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in organizational leadership and a master's degree in education curriculum and instruction.
Tribbey has several family ties in the McAlester area, with her father being from Hartshorne and serving as a green beret in United States Army Special Forces before returning coaching boxing in the area.
She started in 1998 as a special education paraprofessional at McAlester Public Schools while she continued college.
Tribbey later became a parent educator for the Parents as Teachers program at McAlester before doing federal programing in adult education until 2016. Tribbey credited Karla Brock and Vanessa Cummings for their leadership and for mentoring her.
She had returned to school and focused on finishing her final semester to obtain a master's degree before becoming a grant coordinator with Choctaw Nation in January 2017.
Tribbey's now a project director with Choctaw Nation, running federal programming and grants from her office at Jones Academy near Hartshorne.
She credited her experience as a grant writer in helping her in the Choctaw Nation position.
"The first and foremost reason was my son," Tribbey said. She said her son attending MPS motivated her to help on the school board.
She said her passion for her hometown and friends on the faculty and staff also played a role in her interest in the school board.
Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at firstname.lastname@example.org