It seems to me that there aren’t that many selfless people or selfless tasks in our world these days. Too many of the voices we hear are speaking with vested interests or simply promoting “number one.”

I have the happy opportunity, however, to know a large group of people who regularly volunteer to take on the responsibilities of a challenging job—and they do it without pay and often without acknowledgement or appreciation from those they serve.

Who are these admirable people? They are the locally elected school board members who serve in Texas school districts throughout the state. There are more than 1,000 school districts that cover every inch of Texas. The districts come in all sizes, all levels of wealth/poverty, and all sorts of demographics. Some of them have only a few students and one school building, but some districts have many students and dozens or hundreds of facilities.

The locally elected trustees come in all varieties as well. They are rural, urban, and suburban. They are doctors, lawyers, ranchers, small business owners, teachers, tradesmen, moms, and dads. They are representative of every community in every county.

Though trustees vary dramatically and serve in districts that vary dramatically, they have one thing in common: they care enough about the kind of public education we are providing in our Texas schools to dedicate themselves to the work of a trustee.

The work of a trustee includes sitting through long meetings. It includes learning what they need to know about school finance, about the state’s accountability system, and about how to make learning happen in a classroom. It includes being approached by fellow community members to talk about schools in the grocery store, at church, and when they go out to eat.

Sometimes being a trustee is inconvenient. Sometimes being a trustee means voting for the right thing despite pressure to take another path. Sometimes it means hard work, difficult choices, and real perseverance.

But it is a job that trustees take on willingly because they are committed to seeing that the education we provide is the very best it can be, and that commitment is what makes knowing trustees from all parts of the state such a pleasure. When I go to conferences where trustees gather to learn what they need to know to do an effective job as trustee, I am always impressed by the dedication, purposefulness, and plain caring that these people exemplify.

This year I have the privilege of representing those fine people by serving as president of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). It is a private not-for-profit membership organization that was created in 1949 by trustees who wanted a way to speak up for their schools and students and help themselves do the best job they could.

There are more than 7,200 locally elected trustees in Texas. They are the largest group of publicly elected officials in the State. Generally speaking, they serve quietly and without fanfare. As a group, they are fine people who care about kids. While a few trustees make headlines, the overwhelming majority of them work in the background, serving without calling attention to themselves.

For that reason, it is important to occasionally point the spotlight on them and express our appreciation for what they do. They are truly public servants, working without compensation, playing an important role in making sure that the more than 5.3 million students in Texas public schools have the best classroom experiences we can provide.

Governor Abbott has declared January School Board Recognition Month and encouraged Texans to recognize the work of the men and women who serve as school trustees. Please join me in applauding these outstanding people for what they are doing. Trustees are an admirable group, and we owe them a loud and hearty, “Well done!”

Charles R. Stafford serves as a trustee for the Denton Independent School District and currently holds the position of President of the Texas Association of School Boards.­