David Oberg: The Man in the Chicken Onesie

Oberg+enjoys+getting+out+and+spending+time+with+the+students+of+ACPS

Oberg enjoys getting out and spending time with the students of ACPS

Tatiana Bird, Editor-In-Chief

Students of Albemarle county often hear whisperings of the mystical beings we refer to as “School Board Members”. These faceless deities make the decisions that affect the lives of students, decisions that people grumble and gripe about amongst themselves, yet are powerless to stop. These individuals remain elusive, mysterious, perhaps even sinister! No one fully understands how they managed to attain their terrific power, surely their motivations are corrupt, fueled by greed and a deep-seated hunger for control. Right? I mean seriously why else would someone spend their ever-dwindling time entertaining the frivolous complaints of parents for hours?

Enter David Oberg, School Board representative for Albemarle County’s White Hall district who has just the answer: I always wanted to give back to the community, and education is something I feel very strongly about. But frankly, my wife made me run,Oberg said. A member since 2016, Oberg has weathered the storm of the last two years with his unique combination of resilience and humor. Perhaps best known as the man in a chicken onesie at Crozet Elementary’s Walk and Bike to School Day, David Oberg is a genuine delight to converse with.

One of the most difficult parts of serving on the School Board is handling unsavory communications. Oberg admits that they can be challenging at times. “We get some pretty horrible communications from people. By and large, most of the communication we get is perfectly civil and reasonable. Some of the things people say can be pretty hurtful. And you kind of just have to accept it. It’s the worst part of the job” he said. “You know, it’s like they think you’re sitting up there in your ivory tower and making all your money. Yeah, no, we’re volunteers, right? There’s not a whole lot of fringe benefits,” Oberg continued. Despite the aggravation such messages cause, Oberg finds humor within the situation, cheekily reminding us that every message received through email is recorded and can be accessed by the general public with a FOIA request.

Community outreach is a vital aspect of serving on the School Board, yet engagement has been severely lacking from the majority of its members. This is not the case for Oberg who prioritizes spending time with students. “I love going to the schools and playing with kindergarteners. They’re so happy to be there. And some of the stuff they get to play with is so much cooler than anything I ever got to play with.” He further demonstrated his familiarity with the community by mentioning that he had read an article published in The Western Hemisphere this year. 

Oberg expressed pride in many of the important decisions he has helped make. “The anti-racism policy, as much as people think we’re terrible because of it. I think it’s really important. I think it will have long-term ramifications that are positive for our students,” he said. He further emphasized the School Board’s commitment to improving mental health. “We put a lot of money into mental health,” he said. “That was really important, I think, because I think we’ve got some serious mental health problems in our community. The schools are not equipped to deal with it. But nobody else is doing that. As a community, as a society, we should really be putting more into this” he elaborated.    

Going forward, Oberg outlined his top priority. “We’ve got to try and do everything we can to help our teachers recover from the pandemic because our teachers, our administrators, our staff, bore a hell of a lot of the weight of the pandemic,” he said. “I know everybody was impacted, but I mean, they really had it tough. So I hope that we can work to make it better for them.”  

Beyond his duties as a civil servant, father, and lawyer, Oberg possesses a variety of hidden talents. “I used to be a fairly interesting guy. You know, when you have kids, most of the time your life just starts to revolve around them” he said. “But I do read a lot. I speak French. I’m a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo. I do the New York Times crossword puzzle.” To many people, David Oberg embodies how a School Board Member should strive to be; his accessibility is refreshing, he speaks candidly and he is incredibly down-to-earth. As he enjoys his last term on the School Board, it felt necessary to highlight Oberg and his contributions to Albemarle County Public Schools.