How will you, as a Board member, impact the J-D schools and community?
My goal is simple: Make decisions that will continue to provide cutting-edge, best-in-class resources to equip our faculty and staff, who in turn will continue to provide our children a well-rounded, holistic, best-in-class education. Simple does not mean easy. I will work hard and actively listen both during meetings and in my personal time to ensure I am informed, educated, and well-read prior to making any decision.
If elected, what would be the main goal of your agenda during your time as a Board member?
See answer one! I seek positive dialogue and positive solutions to positively impact every student!
Many areas in the school receive less attention than other areas, both financially and publicly. Do you believe they should all be covered equally? If so, how would you make sure all areas are covered equally?
I believe that fair is not always equal in so many areas of life. I believe as with anything, the “attention” (financial, time, emotional, etc.) an area receives cannot and will not always be constant or equal to the other areas. There are ebbs and flows in the tide of “opportunities” we will face as Board members. Our service will be unique and defined by the opportunities that rise to the top during our tenure. Our schools do not operate in a pristine scientific laboratory or vacuum. Our schools interact with our community, the media, and the opportunities and challenges of our towns, states, nations and world. It is all connected. Our function as a Board is to collectively evaluate our successes and failures, identify our most desperate opportunities, inform ourselves, and take action to improve.
Moving forward, how would you plan to make changes to our materials, classrooms, and other areas of the school?
I have never equipped a school before! However, I imagine it’s much like anything else. I will evaluate what we have, constantly seek to improve, and direct available funds to the areas that provide the most impact toward the goal I stated in question one: a well-rounded, holistic, best-in-class education for our children.
What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing the J-D district?
The biggest opportunity facing our children (and our society) at this time is mental health. Our children need us to be there for them now more than ever before. COVID has presented a perfect storm of change, isolation, and fear that I believe is unprecedented in our lifetime. We need to have systems in place to observe, identify, and serve our children’s mental health… from the smallest to the most noticeable manifestations. We need to research and implement not only interventional mental health, but preventative mental health. This is part of the holistic, well-rounded education that will prepare our students to navigate life, not just during their time at J-D, but well beyond. Life is full of stressors — big and little. Let’s find ways to help them help themselves…and when that isn’t enough, identify their needs and take action to help them in a meaningful way!
Many community members likely want to hear your stance on pertinent issues right now. What is your stance on the SRO position? What about the budget shortfall and COVID-19 restrictions being lessened?
Again, I hate the word ‘issue.’ It automatically elicits feelings of division, controversy and argument. I am focused on positive dialogue. I am focused on positive solutions. I know there are existing opportunities but I have not listened to all of the previous dialogue, done any research, and I am not fully informed. I will not state how I would vote on any existing or potential item. I have an extensive positional piece on the SRO on my personal campaign page on Facebook if you are interested. I also have an extensive positional piece on my experience with educating students with disabilities. I don’t believe there is a budget shortfall from what I have read. I believe that we should find ways to safely say yes to returning to as many activities as possible for the mental health of all of us!
What do you think of the position of student Board representative?
I think it is fantastic. Personally, I think one representative may not be enough. I have no idea how it would work — but I would be open to more representation. Students are our most precious gift. Our best resource. We need to see the world as they see it and make decisions with their perspectives in the forefront of our minds. I will constantly seek the voices of a variety of students as I consider my positions. This is how we will truly transform into our full potential as educators.
Do you believe administrators should have the final say over material published in the school newspaper, rather than students making the executive decisions?
There are editors at every level of media, for good reason. I think the students should make all of the decisions, and as with any extra-curricular, the final guidance should come from a faculty advisor. Checks and balances exist in every aspect of life. We have compliance officers in my field — and every time they tell me I can’t do or say something — I remember that they are protecting me from losing my job! The faculty advisors should not be focused on censorship. That I would not support. But collaboration, coaching, and guidance are all precursor to life in the real world with real bosses! An essential part of education!
What are you going to do to make sure students’ voices are heard?
I will personally reach out to a diverse set of students for their opinions. I will encourage furthering the student voice to the Board — both collective voice and diverse voices. I will attend diverse student activities to ‘walk in their shoes.’ I will make every decision with students at the front of my mind.
Whose opinions (students, parents, or school officials) should carry the most weight in establishing school policies? Please rank them in order of value.
The ‘end user’ is the student and everything we do should center on providing every student the education they deserve. The teacher is the vessel — they deliver the resources to our students. Equip them! Arm them! Then let them work their magic! If COVID has taught us one thing — it’s not easy! We have the best and brightest teachers. We will continue to hire the best and brightest teachers. School officials are just facilitators. The Board and the administrators exist to evaluate and allocate resources. In and of themselves, they have no weight.
All Board member articles 2021:
Carolyn Souser: https://jdrampage.org/meet-board-candidate-carolyn-souser/
H. Bernard Alex: https://jdrampage.org/meet-2021-board-candidate-h-bernard-alex/
Emily Costello: https://jdrampage.org/meet-2021-board-candidate-emily-costello/