Joseph Shepard hopes to bring diversified perspective to USD 259 on school board

UPDATE: Shepard will face incumbent Sheril Logan in the race for an at-large seat in the USD 259 Board of Education. Story to come.


Joseph Shepard, former Wichita State student body president, is running to be an at-large member of the Wichita Public Schools Board of Education. 

Currently the director of multicultural engagement and campus life at Newman University, Shepard said that a top priority for him is to strengthen public schools to increase the quality of education that students are able to receive. 

“I see my role as being an advocate for the communities and the people that I serve and more importantly the number one stakeholders – the students,” Shepard said. “I want to be that voice at the table to truly advocate for their needs.” 

If elected, Shepard has five priorities that he hopes to accomplish:

• Allocate funds to areas that directly impact as many students as possible

• Give teachers an increased capacity to personalize their curriculum

• Update non-discriminatory policies 

• Communicate transparently to be honest about school board matters

• Engage through trauma-informed practices and restorative justice approaches

As a first-generation college graduate and the first of six children to attend higher education, Shepard said he’s passionate about education. He grew up in poverty, which he said had a traumatic impact on him while he was in school. 

“I’ve experienced what it’s like to be homeless, sleeping in a car in front of a Walgreens, washing up in a McDonald’s bathroom and then going to school. I remember those experiences,” Shepard said. 

Shepard’s upbringing is what motivates him to become an advocate for the young people in USD 259. He looks at the diversity of the schools and the passion from teachers, stakeholders and administrators have for the district.

“I know how education changed my life, but I would not be where I am today if I did not have the teachers, mentors and advocates who were at the table fighting for me,” Shepard said. “When we are talking about the future of our young people, it makes sense to have a young voice at the table.”

Shepard, 26, is young in comparison to current school board members. His range of experiences, previous employment and educational background makes Shepard believe he is a qualified candidate for the position. 

Shepard holds a master’s degree in public administration. 

“I have the insight and educational knowledge needed to know how to look at and analyze a budget, knowing how to effectively lead and have the organizational structure at the top of my mind,” Shepard said. 

Shepard has had the opportunity to sit in on the Wichita District Advisory and Grants Review boards, and he helped worked over a $1.9 million student-fees budget as SGA president. 

“He is engaged with youth in the school district,” said Alicia Sanchez, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “He does a lot of mentoring – formally and informally. He has his pulse in the youth with a good sense of what’s happening in the school district with the decisions and how they directly impact.”

Shepard says there is room for improvement in the current school board. 

He said he wants to continue to diversify the board’s representation, provide a perspective that is not being offered right now and to amplify the voices of people who are invested in young people and their education. 

There are three other candidates that are running against Shepard: Sheril Logan, the incumbent, Trish Hileman and Brent T. Davis.