Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Graduated public high school in the Tri-Cities. After graduation, I joined the Marine Corps. I used the GI Bill to attend Central Washington University, where I earned two bachelor degrees, and now work as a Lead Health Physics Technician on the Hanford Site.
I have always had an interest in the educational development and support of young people. My volunteer work is one thing that separates me from other candidates running for this position, and includes:
Assisting with Sunday school at my church during middle school and High School, Teachers Assistant for an Elementary School during High School, Helped lead a summer program for Young Marines while serving in the Marine Corps, Taught English in public schools in China, Taught English in private schools in Japan, Taught Junior Achievement at a local elementary school, and am a regular parent volunteer at my child’s school.
I’ve served on the HAEIFAC (Local Economic Diversification Committee), the Reach Interpretive Center Capital Campaign Committee, and various other boards and committees and have the experience and temperament to work with others towards a common goal.
The most pressing issue is a lack of effective communication from the School Board to stakeholders as well as a lack of empathy about how the school boards decisions impact our community.
Another serious issue is the lack of equity and empathy that our SPED families face every school year and an absence of a clear path forward to remedy this situation in order to give them the education that our state constitution and our community has promised them. The district has created a SPED task force but I fear that it will be too little too late for many families as they transition out of our district.
Finally, we must address the safety of students who bus or walk to school. Your school board must work with the City Councils to create safe walking routes, state of the art safety technology in our school zones, proactive enforcement of current traffic laws, and we must re-evaluate the current bussing distance limits in certain areas to reflect the unique safety issues of each school.
Addressing the communication challenges of our school board and district is a complex issue that requires a cultural change in how we interact with students, families, and staff.
First we must be more transparent about how decisions are made by our superintendent and school board, how those decisions will affect students, families, and staff, and what the community’s recourse is if they strongly disagree with the direction of the district.
Next, the school board members and the superintendant must communicate to the community with one voice. Having the superintendent’s office release information that is contradictory to the information the school board releases, or before the school board has had a chance to come to consensus, is confusing to the public and counter productive. The school board members themselves need to resist the pressure to disseminate half-baked information on social media.
Often Educational opportunities are different between schools because of their location and the economic challenges or advantages of the students and families. For example; the strength or weakness of a schools PTO is sometimes an indicator of the opportunities found at a school.
Recognizing this disparity and its causes and creating a budget that reflects each school’s challenges and opportunities is the first step.
Increasing the number of para-educators in schools with less available classroom and PTO parental support, would also help in this regard. Providing the same number of Para-educators to all schools regardless of unique challenges such as high poverty, student behavior, or learning gap, makes no sense.
Improving Para-educator training and the training of teachers to more effectively utilize para-educators in their classrooms, will make this an even more effective strategy.
Safety must be addressed both directly and proactively.
Our Student Resource Officers are one example of directly ensuring the safety of our children as are, unfortunately, active shooter drills that have become a part of our children’s education.
A proactive example of student safety would be an increase in mental health professionals at our schools to address our students’ daily stresses both normal and extraordinary.This would include an increase in the number of para-educators specially trained to assist mental health professionals with the increasingly large work load. The current ratio of mental health professionals to student is unrealistic to make any meaningful difference in our student’s lives, or to head off any possible destructive behavior.
Our community is changing demographically. With this change comes challenges and opportunities. Many visiting scientists and engineers as well as immigrants and refugees have found our community to be a welcoming home for their families and have added to the racial diversity of our community.
Our district should improve the language translation tools available to teachers and administrators to effectively communicate with our non-English speaking and ESL families. Often, these families find barriers to simple tasks such as calling the office to report a sick student and to gather homework. When a child is injured at school, staff must find an interpreter to gain permission to transport a child to the hospital. Meeting with a teacher, both in conferences and also when a parent simply needs information or wants to inform the teacher of an issue, is exponentially harder for these families.
Finally, our shared and unique histories should be embraced and taught in our classrooms.
Access to technical education as well as access to the trades for early apprenticeships should be available to students the way that any other elective is. Technical and trade skills fit perfectly into any STEM education category and would be beneficial for any student.
We must recognize that every student is different and that their educational and occupational goals are similarly different and valuable. Meeting the students where they are and preparing them for their futures as productive members of our society should be our goal, not forcing them into a single, narrow-focused, idea of what success looks like.
As mentioned above, removing barriers for non-English speaking parents to communicate with administration and teachers is paramount to providing refugee and non-English speaking children with quality educational opportunities.
To provide homeless children adequate education we must recognize that a hungry student learns much less effectively than a student who has her nutritional needs met. Our district must identify and work with homeless families to help their children gain the basic necessities required so that they can focus on their education. Partnering with organizations such as “Communities In Schools” is an example of how our district is already improving educational opportunities for these kids and illustrates a path forward to continue to improve in this area.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Elementary School Teacher, Master's Degree in Education, Current WA State Teaching Certificate, Mother, Member of Instructional Materials Committee (IMC) for Richland School District, Co-chair for Richland Citizens for Good Schools during recent bond issue campaign, continuing classroom volunteer.
Prior to having children, I was an elementary school teacher. Every district should have teachers serving on their school board in order to bring that essential teacher perspective into district decision making. As a former teacher, I would bring that unique and essential qualification.
I have a Master’s degree in Education. The deep knowledge I gained while earning my M.Ed. has given me expertise in the areas of teaching and learning.
I also have two Bachelor of Science degrees (Psychology & Human Development). Through these degrees, I have gained a deeper understanding of the mental health crisis our youth are facing.
I served a two-year term on the RSD’s Instructional Materials Committee (IMC) where I fought for developmentally appropriate curriculum that supports our community’s family values.
My approachable demeanor will foster good lines of communication between the school board, teachers, paras, staff, parents, and our community.
1. Bridging the disconnect between district administrators and our classroom teachers;
2. Closing the achievement gap by not only raising the bar for the students who academically struggle, but also for those who academically excel, and for every student in between;
3. Adopting curriculum that supports our community’s family values.
Currently, I believe the most critical issue we face in the Richland School District is the disconnect between district administrators and our classroom teachers. We have fantastic teachers and paraeducators in our district and we want to be able to retain them and continue to recruit more. We need to include those who work with our children on a daily basis in our decision making processes. As a Richland School Board member, I will ensure that administrators are including the insights and perspectives of our educators, students, and parents in their decision making.
Schools need to be able to choose what is best for their students. Just like every child is unique, every student population is also unique, and as such, has unique needs. It is the school board’s responsibility to provide the resources schools require in order to best meet those unique needs. The school board should also be sure the district administrators are supporting the teachers, paras, building administration, and staff who better understand their students’ unique needs.
Having secure, up-to-date buildings is imperative in keeping our children safe while at school.
Student safety goes beyond their physical safety. We need to encourage our building administrators to cultivate a respectful environment where all students feel accepted and safe. Students should have access to mental health professionals. Mental health professionals can help students with a variety of issues including bullying, depression, and anxiety.
We also need to continue to allocate funds for extracurricular activities (clubs, sports, etc.) and for more support staff (paraeducators, SROs, etc.) to help students create positive connections at school. Students with these positive connections are more likely to be successful in school.
We need to be cultivating a respectful environment where all students feel accepted and supported. One way to promote racial equality could be to encourage students and staff to reach out and invite all students to be a part of extracurricular clubs, sports, advanced classes. As educators we should always encourage our students, and be asking ourselves, “What can we do to raise the bar for this student?”
College isn’t for everyone. Technical training opportunities should be available to all interested students. Working with our community to create apprenticeships for our students would give students the opportunity to test different fields until they find something they are passionate about.
As a teacher in a Title I school, it was heart-breaking to see first-hand how many students did not have their basic, essential needs being met at home.
I believe that these basic needs must be met in order to best educate all students. Our district should collaborate with community organizations like Communities in Schools and My Friends’ Place. These amazing community groups help meet students’ basic needs when they are not being met at home, allowing educators to focus on teaching.
We also need to ensure that teachers have paraeducators to assist them in meeting the students’ needs in the classroom. Our district could also better utilize our valuable ELL staff to support and train classroom teachers and paras to meet the unique needs of our immigrant, refugee and non-English speaking children.