1. Why are you running for the school board? In your opinion, what is the most important role of a board member?
I am running to support the school district and help create the best learning environment for our students and the best working environment for our staff. I feel the most important role of a board member is to oversee the budget and keep the district operating smoothly by partnering with the superintendent in governing the district.
2. Why are you seeking our endorsement? What does the endorsement of our unions mean to you personally?
I am seeking the endorsement because I respect the opinion of the staff. I feel the staff have a very unique point of view when it comes to our schools and students. If I were to be endorsed I would be very honored because our staff is amazing at their respective jobs and have the district’s best interests at heart.
3. How has your racial identity shaped and informed your world view? How are you actively working to expand your own racial and cultural lens?
As a white woman, I feel I have had a life of privilege in America. In many ways the institutions I’ve encountered have been structured in a way that provides a path forward towards success. I have been actively working to expand my racial and cultural lens through education. I am an English major and have always loved to read. I feel that reading is a wonderful way to learn about different people’s experiences and cultures.
4. As described by the Minnesota School Boards Association, what does governance mean to you in terms of board work and the role of the school board members?
I feel that governance means that you help guide and set the tone or big picture goals for the district. I do not think governance means that you micro-manage people or departments. Governance means you convey the agreed upon goals clearly and allow the professionals in the district to do their work.
5. What has been your personal involvement or knowledge regarding unions and collective bargaining? How would you, as a school board member, interact with union leadership?
I have been a member of education unions in the past, but it was many years ago. I would approach union leadership as an important member of the team and acknowledge that we share many of the same goals such as student success, staff retention and recruitment of talent.
6. Share examples of systemic and institutional racism that you have experienced or observed in Stillwater public schools. How will you work toward dismantling those barriers?
As a parent with a student in the GATE program, I noticed that the enrollment in the program does not match the racial demographics of our district. In order to address this and other barriers we must first see and acknowledge the problem. I feel that one way we could begin to address the problem is to expand the GATE program to OakLand Middle School, incorporate more G/T lessons in all elementary schools and offer professional development so all teachers are prepared to offer meaningful enrichment activities.
7. How do you think decisions should be made that impact curriculum, assessment, staffing, and school management? What are the roles of teachers, paraprofessionals, and administration in these decisions? What is the role of the school board in these decisions?
Decisions that impact curriculum, assessment, staffing and school management should be left to the building principals and teachers as they are the experts at educating students. I feel the role of the school board in these decisions should be limited to providing guidance surrounding the strategic plan of the district as well as keeping the curriculum changes in line with budgetary expenses.
8. How do you define collaboration? What would collaboration among your fellow board members look like to you?
Collaboration is teamwork towards an agreed upon set of goals. I foresee collaboration among board members as ongoing conversations where ideas are shared, concerns are expressed and a consensus is reached.
9. What steps would you take to actively work on trust-building with each of these groups? a) District administration; b) District staff including paraprofessionals, custodians, food service workers, counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, secretaries, school bus drivers, early childhood educational assistants, community education staff, technology support staff, nurses, and teachers; c) District students and families, including racially, culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse students and families; d) Fellow board members; e) Our community at large.
For all groups: Meet with individuals or representatives of the various groups. Listen to what they feel is going well and what challenges or obstacles they face. Make sure they feel valued and appreciated. For the district families and community at large, I feel it is important to meet with them where they physically are because some groups cannot easily travel or do not feel comfortable in school settings for a variety of reasons. I also feel that it is important to be approachable and positive about the district as much as possible.
10. Describe current and future initiatives that you feel are priorities for our district.
I think we absolutely need to replace Lake Elmo Elementary. I would like to see us offer an on-line program that is housed at Stillwater instead of procured through Minnetonka. I think it is very important to expand the Amigos Unidos program into the middle school(s). Expand GATE programming to both middle schools. I would like to see more languages offered at the high school. I would like to see the district support a marching band. I would be supportive of a later start time for the high school as research shows this is best practice for our learners (sports could meet in the morning).
11. Thinking about the next five years, there are bound to be economic challenges facing public education in Minnesota and in our district. How do you propose to address these economic challenges?
Aside for advocating for a state-wide change of how schools are funded with property taxes and advocating for a federal change to funding special education, I would try to increase enrollment in our schools by offering a quality experience for our families. I would be interested in exploring solar panels on our schools (I’ve heard of other districts implementing them and it working out well financially.)