I’ve been asked a lot of questions . . .
Why are you running for the school board?
Our school board needs more members with a background in education. I have a degree in elementary education. I previously taught 5th and 6th grade Spanish immersion and taught kindergarten and first grade in the West Lafayette School District. I love working with kids and have strived in and out of the classroom to make a difference in the education experience. I want to see the school board be more welcoming to parents, teachers, and community members.
What are the most pressing issues you want to address?
(1) We need improvement in the way our school leaders engage with the community in open and transparent dialogue. Community outrage should not be the only way that people feel heard and their concerns are addressed.
(2) We need to improve the work environment for our teachers to reverse the increase in teacher turnover the past several years and the decline in teachers applying for jobs in our district. Our schools should be where teachers from other districts aspire to work
(3) Our school district should be a leader in responding to and meeting the needs of our students and their families. Rather than a “this is the way it’s always been done” attitude, we need a leadership culture that constantly asks “how can we make this work better?”
Can I donate to your campaign?
No, I’m not accepting any donations. My campaign is self-funded. Rather than money I am looking for community members willing to put up a yard sign and/or help hand out my fliers. However, the best support you can give me is your vote!
What experience do you have in education?
I have a BS Degree and Teachers Certificate in Elementary Education. I taught Spanish Immersion in 5th and 6th grade. Here in West Lafayette, I taught 1st grade and kindergarten. I also volunteered for many years with the Parent Council at WLES serving as: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Book Fair Chair, and as an Articipate volunteer. I’ve had a consistent presence in our schools volunteering for activities and as a room parent. I served on the WLCSC Reimagining Committee and Facilities Committee.
What has the school district done well over the last few years?
A lot of things are going well. We have great teachers and excellent students who continue to make our schools among the best in the state. Our superintendent secured broad community support for the referendum providing our schools with additional property tax revenue which puts us in much better financial shape. This has enabled us to continue to provide high-quality education that the funds provided by the state alone would not allow.
How do you think we should address racism in our schools?
This is a real concern and needs to be addressed in an open dialogue with the community. Those affected by racism need to be heard. Our school district should be a leader in addressing discrimination. An issue I am passionate about is the need for social workers in our schools. They are better equipped to help students who are dealing with serious issues including racism, depression, anxiety, and difficult situations at home.
Do you support having school resource officers in our schools?
I am very passionate about the need for social workers in our schools, but we definitely need both school resource officers and social workers. I want our kids to have frequent positive interactions with the police. Having the school resource officer visit classrooms regularly is a great way to do this. Something I loved doing as a kindergarten and first grade teacher was inviting the school resource officer to come into my classroom and read stories to my students. It is an invaluable teaching lesson that police officers are people just like them and care about them! However, if a child is feeling “in trouble” for disruptive behavior at school, I don’t want the school resource officer to have to be involved.
I read your post about the increase in teacher turnover, why did you list all the teachers who left?
For some of the teachers who left our schools over the past couple of years, it was simply the right time to retire or leave. I’m not suggesting that every teacher that left our district was unhappy with something about the work environment. Some of our teachers are happy with the way things are. But, many others strongly want some work environment changes. The large increase in the number of teachers leaving our district is what I find concerning and drawing attention to the list of names puts a face on the turnover numbers and gives people an opportunity to talk with any of the teachers they know personally. I just copied and pasted every name from the school board website without inserting any personal opinions about the reasons a specific teacher may have left.
Why are you sharing “negative” information about our schools publicly?
Why draw attention to the increase in class sizes or the increase in teacher turnover in our schools? I am not trying to cause any harm to our good reputation. I only want the best for our school district. My view is that trying to suppress potentially damaging information while ignoring the underlying cause is a much larger risk to our reputation. I want to celebrate the many things that are going well and fix the handful of things that need to change.
How do you feel about not being endorsed by the WLEA teachers union?
I was disappointed and surprised. I had hoped for their endorsement. I was a fellow teacher and an active member of the teachers union. Also, I am advocating for changes to better support our teachers with the goal of reducing teacher turnover.
It is important to note that this endorsement decision was made by a small group of union leaders, not by the union members and not by the teachers as a whole. My understanding is that teachers were not asked to provide any input in the process of selecting the endorsements. Union members were not asked to vote on the candidates the union would support.
Not all teachers feel the same way, but many teachers are supporting me. I believe that if the union leaders had asked the teachers for input, the group of candidates selected for endorsement by the union would be different. Claiming that “the teachers are supporting the following endorsed candidates” is a misrepresentation of the actual views of the teachers in our school district.
What skills would make you an effective board member?
I would bring my experience as a former teacher in our school district to the school board. Our school board needs someone with this perspective. I enjoy collaborating and working with others to make improvements. For example, many of changes I made while volunteering as a leader of the parent council have continued to produce benefits. I am also willing to stand alone and be a voice for change if a collaborative approach isn’t working, but I know that listening to our students, teachers, and parents is what is most needed. I am willing to be an advocate for those who strongly value education.