How will you impact the JD schools and community?
What I would bring to a board member seat I would describe as having three different hats that I would wear. I’m a JD mom, so I’m always thinking about the needs of the students. Also I have 20 years of education in Syracuse City Schools. I’m a vice principal, so I understand how the decisions are made in a boardroom, how they would play out at the building level, and who they would impact. I also have some good experience in executive leadership, so I know how to engage stakeholders.
What is your main goal for the Board?
The way I would want to frame every decision and think about each scenario would be based off the needs of the students. So whether that means using data, listening to parents, listening to students, or teachers, I am always making sure that the needs of the students are met first.
Should all school activities be supported and funded equally?
I think context is really important, what is equal is not always equitable. So it might not be pertinent right now to be talking about if something is happening to the student concerns, or it might not be pertinent to be given equal time to some budgetary or financial needs. But right now it’s budget season so it is at a high need. We wouldn’t be thinking about this as much at a different time of year. I have this really interesting dynamic in my house. My kids are students at JD, we’ve done very well with the lacrosse program here. However, both of my boys are musicians and I feel like they have grown from the exposure to the arts programs here and that’s definitely something I feel like deserves the same level of attention and celebration. I think sometimes some of the programming gets outshined by the academic excellence. This concern has touched my children personally and it’s definitely on my radar.
Do you plan on making changes to our schools?
I would need research and I would want to make database decisions. When I say this I don’t just mean numbers, I’d want qualitative data, and to engage in conversations with both students and their parents and teachers. I have 20 years in education and many of those years as an instructional coach and instructional leader. I’ve done 3 school turnarounds in Syracuse, so I know how to select materials in a mindful eye.
What is the most pressing issue facing the district?
Right now, were trying to engage in a level of stability. There’s been a lot of turnover, having a new superintendent and the 5 new board members. Re-establishing a level of stability, and from there working as a community to establish a new vision, a new direction, and new goals.
On the referendum to add a student representative to the Board
I think that students should have a voice, they’re major stakeholders and are often unrepresented. I think that students should have a voice in decision making. I always welcome feedback from students, I think that it would be a good idea to put a student on the board.
Who should have the final say in what is published in a school paper?
Contextually I think that we have to think about all stakeholders. I for sure, believe that there are certain things that can be decided by a student body, or even a governing student body. We need a collective group with teachers, and an administrator, and several students making those decisions in a more collective way, or collaborative way instead of just one executive decision that vetoes everything else.
How will you ensure student voices are heard?
I think access is really important. Since I have 3 kids in JD, I’m [involved in] a bunch of stuff anyway. But being able to be accessible and being able to have times where I can come and listen is important. I plan to provide my personal email or cell phone number because really, it is an elective position and you’re a representative.
Whose opinions should carry the most weight in establishing policies?
This question speaks to some division in the district [regarding] whose opinion is more important. What I would resist saying is that parents’ opinions are more important or the teachers’ opinions are more important. We are a community, and I think that if I were to rank those people, that would instantly mean that I’m not interested in a collective leadership. I feel that what’s most important is balancing and listening to each stakeholder and collectively making decisions. No matter who’s going to agree, we’re not always going to come to a consensus that every voice is equally valuable.
What is your position on the Journalism Free Speech Act?
I’m going to give 2 answers. I’m going to give the parent answer, which is I think that children and young adults need to be empowered. I think their voices are important to hear because they offer a perspective that parents don’t have. From the emotional standpoint, students’ perspectives are very important. But as an educator, our main job is to prepare people to be citizens, and I want them coming out of high school with those experiences and to be able to express themselves in positive ways without feeling diminished or quieted. I will always support students being able to advocate for themselves.