Board Candidate Lorianne DeForest

How will you impact the JD schools and community?

I will carefully listen to as many stakeholders as possible and consider multiple perspectives before making any thoughtful and important decision. I will be a champion for our students, celebrate our successes and work collectively on solutions to address our challenges.  I have experience in facilitating school-based organizations in strategic planning and data-driven decision making. I also provide training and professional development on building effective collaborative groups. I hope to bring some of these skills and strategies from my experiences to help build an even stronger J-D community and set goals and priorities to prepare our students for an ever changing world.

What is your main goal for the Board?

I do not have an agenda other than to serve the students and school community to the best of my ability. I am grateful to the JD community for challenging my daughters to always do their best, for providing them a variety of opportunities and experiences in the classroom and beyond, and for encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone by trying new things, making new friends, and getting involved in their school community.  By participating in classroom projects, art and music programs, athletics, student government and additional extracurricular activities, my daughters have learned lifelong skills of teamwork, leadership, service, listening, public speaking, critical thinking, creativity, and flexibility. If elected, I would work with the JD administration, fellow board members, staff, teachers, students, and the outside community to thoughtfully and collectively develop a responsible budget that meets the needs of our diverse student population, engages and connects students to their school community through a variety of electives and extracurricular activities, and provides professional development for teachers and staff to continue to deliver rigorous and challenging instruction to prepare our students for their desired futures.

Should all school activities be supported and funded equally?

I believe that all areas of our school should be recognized, celebrated, and valued equally.  Knowing that different areas or programs may have different costs and financial needs, I am not sure that they should be equally financed.  In being a public institution we do not have unlimited funds and must be responsible to our taxpayers and community as well as our students in listening and collecting information to set forth priorities and allocate our resources thoughtfully and effectively.   

First, I would need to learn about all of these areas by listening and attending various events within our community and share what I have learned.  I believe our district administration and current Board of Education are heading in the right direction by administering surveys to receive community feedback and ensure all voices are heard. I also believe that our current administration and board of education are thoughtfully allocating resources to enhance communication in our district and could thoughtfully use these resources and student clubs and organizations to publicly feature and celebrate the diverse areas of our school. To address fiscal allocations, it is important to reflect upon the data and engage the community in data-driven dialogue to help set priorities for our districts’ future. It is also important to build in a cycle of ongoing review to evaluate progress towards our goals.  

I believe that as a board member it is important to stay current in educational trends and provide our teachers and students the resources and materials necessary to prepare our students to be competitive and successful in a global economy.  As a community we need to listen to our students, teachers, and administrators, examine educational research and study best practices, and collectively set district goals and priorities to continue to challenge and prepare our students for success.  

What is the most pressing issue facing the district?

I believe there are a few pressing issues for the Jamesville-DeWitt district and believe we are moving in a positive direction with many.  We need to continue to work on building a collaborative and caring community where multiple perspectives are heard. As mentioned previously, the recent work with community surveys and work with the Perception Institute is a good start. Adolescent anxiety and depression continue to rise. Therefore, it is important for social emotional learning and mental health education to also be focused on. This includes addressing recent state regulations regarding mental health literacy in schools.  While addressing the areas mentioned above, it is also still important to continue to provide students with a rigorous academic program to help them compete in a global economy and provide teachers with continued training to remain current in best instructional practices.  

On the referendum to add a student representative to the Board

As a board of education, our greatest responsibility is to support the learning and success of our students. Therefore, having the perspective of a student on the board would be very valuable.  That being said, it would still be important for us to listen to as many students as we can as we serve a diverse group of learners and will need to hear from multiple perspectives to make the best informed decisions.  

Who should have the final say in what is published in a school paper?

I believe a principal and/or advisor should be a part of the dialogue in the process of publishing a school newspaper.  One of the greatest roles and responsibilities of a principal is to promote a safe and secure learning environment for all students. In addition, a principal is required to stay current on all of the rules and regulations of the New York State Education Department. For example, one set of regulations under review right now at the state level is students’ data privacy. The knowledge and perspective an administrator has may provide valuable input into thoughts and considerations during the development of a story.

How will you ensure student voices are heard?

With my background in data, one of the most effective and efficient ways to collect feedback is through ongoing surveys. I would like to continue what has been started in regularly collecting feedback through surveys. An additional piece to this work is to then engage stakeholders in dialogue about the results.  

Whose opinions should carry the most weight in establishing policies?

I believe in collective wisdom and that all perspectives are important to make the best informed decision.  One of my favorite quotes is “I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different” by Omer B. Washington. For that reason, I cannot rank one over the other as I feel each perspective is important to see the full picture.

What is your position on the Journalism Free Speech Act?

I would need to research this further to give an informed answer regarding the legislation. I do believe student voices matter and as mentioned previously will listen to all stakeholders as a board member.