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School District 259 At Large

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Joseph W. Shepard (N) Director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life

Biographical Information

Personal Biography Born into the cycle of poverty, Joseph Shepard knows what it’s like to be a student caught in the cycle of poverty. He knows firsthand how the instability and hardships brought on by poverty can negatively effect performance and behavior in the classroom. As a first generation college graduate and now a higher educational professional, Joseph wishes to fight for a quality education for all students and ensure that clear cut strategies and ideas are being used to support teachers and educators.
Campaign Address
6000 E Mainsgate Rd, #30
Campaign Phone (316) 226-0974
Education Bachelors of Science, Criminal Justice, Wichita State University Masters of Public Administration, Wichita State University
Community/Public Service Wichita City Council District 1 Advisory Board Board of Directors Kansas African American Museum Board of Directors Interfaith Ministries President, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, Eta Beta Lambda Chapter Member, Urban Professionals of Wichita

What do you see as the biggest successes in the Public Schools and what areas do you see could use some study and/ or changes?

USD 259 has had much success this past year. USD 259 has done the following:graduated the largest class since the 1970's, launched "BAASE" to celebrate the achievements of young boys of color and inspiring them towards college, implemented restorative practices win middle school and high schools, expanded the Parents as Teachers program, created additional Pre-K classes, created partnerships with Wichita Transit helped more students get to school and implemented a new breakfast initiative to ensure all students had a meal before entering the classroom. As we look at opportunities for growth, it is vital to update the non-discriminatory policy, recruit more teachers, increase support for special education classrooms, expand community partnerships, gradually increase teachers salary, address the drop out rate, especially among students of color, increase the reading proficiency rate and increase the post secondary success rate just to name a few.

A lot of schools district have not been= able to recruit enough teachers to fill all positions with certified teachers.. Last year the Wichita district had to start the school year with 80 positions filled by long term substitutes . What do you think can be done to perhaps help solve this problem?

My plan is to work in partnership with the surrounding universities educational programs, both undergraduate and graduate, to offer internships and practicum experience to students who'd like to work in public schools. These students would be assigned to our teachers and help teach the curriculum and attend to the needs of students. By doing this, not only will we be helping our teachers, but we will grant our collegiate students the opportunity to get more exposure in the field, hopefully recruiting them to work in our district. Additionally, making more individuals aware of the Grow Your Own Teacher program would be beneficial in addressing the high demand of teachers. I believe as a school board member, one should be proactively recruiting new teachers. My plan is to also intentionally target students of color to work in our district as studies show that students of color have a higher level of achievement and are more likely to attend college if they've had a teacher of color.

What strengths do you think you bring that will make you a useful member of the on the Board of Education?

I am a hardworking and passionate young person who is dedicated to impacting the lives of the generation currently leading with me. I feel that as a young person I have a active pulse on the needs of our students. As a first generation college graduate, I feel that my presence on the school board will serve as a symbol of hope for many children and families, much like the the 75% of children and families that come from homes of poverty, that it is possible to overcome obstacles. My Masters in Public Administration has given me the credentials to lead efficiently, effectively and govern ethically. Furthermore, my previous work at the Kansas Leadership Center has allowed me to help individuals from various backgrounds make progress on their critical challenges. I am engaged and visible in the community, which will help with accessibility and I bring a fresh perspective to the table that is currently not represented on the USD 259 Board of Education.

What is your view about Kansas state revenue funding going to support tuition to non-Public schools if a family chooses to send their student there?

No. I do not believe that public dollars should be used to fund public education.

What is your opinion of the Ks Supreme Court’s ruling on the Gannon case about adequate and equitable funding for Kansas Public Schools?

I believe that as we look at the impact the Gannon case had on USD 259 specifically, we can see that the investment of time, energy and money was worth it for USD 259 schools. I believe it is our moral obligation to adequately fund schools to ensure that all of our children have access to a quality education. Furthermore, I believe that the additional revenue brought forth as a result of the Gannon case will aid our schools in provided updated resources and tools that will benefit our students as we prepare to give the soft skills and critical skills needed to thrive in the workforce. I do believe that some of the additional streams of revenue should be used to increase teachers pay so that we can recruit and retain talented teachers in our school district.

What ideas would you like to have the Board explore to enhance the schools in this district if you are elected?

I would like the school board to implement a policy which requires not only the superintendent, but Board Members to hold town halls 2 times a year to ensure community members have the opportunity to empower their voice and share questions or concerns in a open setting. Secondly, I would like for it to be required that each school board member has an advisory board to ensure there are checks and balances. Thirdly, I would like to expand community partnerships with community organizations such as Real Men Real Heroes, Rise Up For Youth and Big Brothers Big Sisters just to name a few.

What do you think the school district should add or take away from its policies or practices.

I believe that whenever creating policies or reviewing practices, we must ensure we are doing what is best for the common good. All developed practices and policies should include all voices. I believe the USD 259 leadership is working diligently to do this, in my opinion, it is a collective effort and we need board members who are proactively engaging diverse communities to ensure their thoughts, ideas and concerns are being weaved into policies and practices as well.