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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Salt Lake City School Board 1

Our Charge & ResponsibilityStudents will leave us prepared for college,career and life in the 21st century world.Board Goals Increase achievement for every student Enrich and increase parent and community engagement

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  • Joann A. Graves

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    Joel-Lehi Organista

Biographical Information

Salt Lake School District will implement a late start no later than fall 2021. How would you work to see that it is successfully implemented?

How do you propose to provide an equitable education to a diverse student population, including underserved students?

You will be involved in the hiring of a new superintendent. What are the important characteristics you are looking for?

What are your perceptions of the district’s shared governance and site-based decision-making protocols?

How would you provide a healthy, safe and supportive learning environment for all students?

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Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/JLOSLCSchoolBoard
Age 28
There are various urgent topics to address that build off the late start implementation. This includes the COVID19 response to going into a hybrid virtual and in person teaching structure. This also includes the change of having half of the student body go to school one day and the other the next day, while also making the school week only 4 days. These are things proposed in the state level and also local level by different legislators trying to figure out the need to adapt our education to the pandemic.

The late start implementation for next year will be an important factor to consider. My goal is to as a school board member, hire a superintendent that will be confident in addressing everything I've mentioned here.
I did all my schooling from K-12 in this school district. I was a student of color, low income, and English Language Learner (ELL) in the district. I know the need of equity in this district on a personal level. I experienced racism and discrimination as a person of color and ELL in the district. At age 15 I produced a film documentary on Racism & Ethnic Stereotyping in Utah Schools.

My Bachelors is in Social Justice Pedagogy and my Masters is in Sociology & Education from Columbia University. I use to advise the Utah State Board of Education on Equity issues as the first Latino and youngest appointed advisor in the state. I use to teach in the school district and know first experience how to provide an equitable education to diverse students by applying the best practices of culturally sustaining pedagogy.
I want to prioritize someone that knows the culture of Utah, and specifically the needs of a majority people of color student body school district. Someone that has a proven track record of equity and can connect with diverse populations. They must be willing to be held accountable when they make mistakes and be willing to learn with and alongside everyone, including us as a board, their staff, and the community.

I want to make sure this person knows how to lead a school district by creating a culture of collective genius and empowering each other, rather than a culture of fear or shame.
Within the shared governance principles, it becomes clear that those we serve need to be centered. Youth/students and their families are who we serve as a school district. My #1 thing I would change in the school district is having a district wide Student Council. This Student Council will inform the Youth member on the school board. This will also provide additional sustainable leadership within the youth to be informed and engaged with the shared governance and site-based decisions that happen. This isn't a hard thing to implement and should be a priority.
I am an educator and use to teach in the school district. I taught high school Health. Topics I taught were Mental Health, Healthy Relationships, Substances, and Sex Education. It is impossible to teach those topics without creating a learning environment that is healthy, safe, brave, and supportive. I am trained in applied positive psychology, culturally sustaining pedagogy, trauma-informed practices, and biliteracy to name a few pedagogies and frameworks that are best practices.

I know how to do this, but my concern is that I have the feeling that many adults in the school district don't know how to apply these. It is not just the teacher's responsibility to know this. It is also the administrations, paraeducators, secretaries, counselors, custodians, and all other district staff's responsibility to know how to apply these best practices.