Ankeny School Board candidate Amber Romans was almost a teacher. Now she wants to fight for them

Ankeny School Board candidate Amber Romans. Photo by Ty Rushing/Starting Line

By Ty Rushing

October 26, 2023

Sometimes the only standing between you and following in your father’s footsteps is a broken leg—or at least that was the case for Amber Romans.

Romans’ father became a teacher after his time in the US Navy. She initially went to college intent on becoming an educator too, until a leg injury forced her to reevaluate her plans.

“I broke my leg and had to come home and work,” said Romans, who needed a steady job so that she could receive health insurance benefits.

Romans healed and eventually returned to school and wound up going into the business sector. She has spent the last 17 years working for Wells Fargo, but Romans has always held education in high esteem. That is one of the reasons she is running for a seat on the Ankeny School Board.

The 45-year-old mother of two—including one Ankeny Centennial High School senior— is one of 10 candidates on the ballot for the Nov. 7 school board election. There are only five seats open, and Romans is motivated to fill one of them.

“There was a few things that were happening,” she said of her decision to run. “I would almost wake up every morning thinking, ‘Somebody should do something, somebody should do something.’ It was kind of a knock on the head, like, ‘Oh, well maybe someone is me.’ So I threw myself out there.”

Becoming a member of the school board would be a way to tap into her educational roots and would be an extension of the work she is already doing in the broader Ankeny community.

Romans is already involved in schools as a band parent, volunteers with middle school girls through an organization at her church, and along with her husband is an active volunteer in the community and organizes the annual “Stand-up Comedy Night For A Cause” event that raises funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Another reason she feels called to run for school board is to help protect some of the district’s most vulnerable students.

Last year, the Ankeny High School Gay Straight Alliance hosted an after-school drag show that wasn’t school-sanctioned. That event led to a dramatic and tense Ankeny School Board meeting where some adults felt the need to verbally attack kids.

“What was being said by adults at the school board was what was upsetting to me, “Romans said. “That’s when I was like, ‘I need to stand up for society,’ because I do have a voice. I’m not shy.”

Romans says her faith is a central tenet of who she is and said some people have questioned how she can be both a Christian and supportive of LGBTQ people. In her interpretation, you don’t use religion to punch down on people, but instead embrace and welcome all.

“If you really read the Bible, and you really are a believer, you’re going to take care of kids and people, and you’re going to love them,” she said. “To me, that’s faith. That’s believing in Jesus.”

“I care about each of them,” she added, speaking of LGBTQ students. “And if they’re struggling with who they are, what they are, or whatever, they should not feel [pressure] from society that they’re not worthy.”

Romans also wants to advocate for Ankeny teachers, who she does not think receive enough support from certain members of the school board. She believes in the old adage of “it takes a village to raise a child” and, for her, that includes educators and support staff.

“We have seen such wonderful things done by teachers to help us—to be our village— but it’s like their hands are almost tied [now] and there’s so much they can’t do that those teachers want to do,” she said. “And I want to be able to help that village”

AT A GLANCE:

Name: Amber Romans

Position: Ankeny School Board candidate

Age: 45

Residence: Ankeny

Education: Graduated from Francis Howell High School in Missouri in 1997; earned a bachelor’s degree from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, in 2004; earned a master’s degree from Drake University in Des Moines in 2015.

Experience: Has worked for Wells Fargo since 2006, owns a photo business with husband, community leader for the 4Word Christian women’s group, church volunteer, band parent coordinator for Ankeny Centennial High School.

Family: Husband, Greg; two sons, Jon, 21; Nick, 18.

Interests: Volunteering, gardening, making crafts, photography, spending time with her family and extended family.

  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

CATEGORIES: EDUCATION | POLITICS

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