I will bring a NEW VOICE and needed perspective to the Board, both as a mental health professional and as a parent with children in our schools.
We have a responsibility to educate our children and to keep our schools safe. As a social worker, I recognize that we must collaborate with others to do so (be it Doctors, Scientists, School Resource Officers, and Mental Health Professionals, to name a few.) I believe that we must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and will advocate within my good working relationship with our Board of Commissioners to provide the appropriate resources and services that support instructional programs, and maintain our facilities and grounds. We have a responsibility to balance supervision and collaboration with the Superintendent and to not “rubber stamp” all of the Superintendent’s proposals without asking hard questions. In my profession, I have difficult but productive conversations every day. We have a responsibility to be accessible and transparent with our community. I will advocate for Board meetings to be available with both audio AND visual live on digital cable, streaming on devices and viewable later online. We have a responsibility to not only recruit and prepare our educators and administrators but to retain them by advocating for a culture that treats educators as the professionals they are. We must foster critical thinking skills to contribute to society. I will advocate for both college-bound and work-bound students. I will advocate for the expansion of our Career and Technical Education (C.T.E.) programs, partnerships with local businesses and College of the Albemarle.
The biggest challenge is meeting the needs met by schools in the context of COVID-19. As a mental health professional and involved parent, I understand the challenges meeting the physical, academic, and social/emotional needs of all children and families. I would like to see choice in how students and teachers return to school. State health mandates don't come with adequate funding for all children to return as we'd need to hire more teachers and staff in order to offer choice between full in person instruction and remote learning. I advocate for adequate funding! Not everyone feels safe returning yet. Not every child does well with remote learning, or with isolation, or is safer at home, or has caregivers who can work from home, afford to not work, or who are education professionals. Families, teachers and administrators alike feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. I support and have volunteered with community organizations like those who have stepped up to help meet some needs like food, supervision for young children and tutoring. I have devoted my career to the social/emotional needs of children and families, and am concerned about the impact of all of this. It is also important, however, to recognize that the current state health mandates preclude many aspects of the usual social and academic experiences we are used to in school. We need to be both realistic and creative in planning the return to school choice, such as elementary children first or staggered return
I am very concerned about the prospect of recruiting and retaining qualified teachers in our schools. In the shorter term context, we have some teachers who are not unable to return to the in-person classroom or teachers who are resigning or retiring early. Long term, athough many respect and appreciate teachers, the Board, Administrators, staff, and community need to evaluate the level of respect of teachers and what's behind the retention issues. This should include things like affordable housing, evaluation of teacher pay in comparison to the national average including those with advanced degrees, and genuinely involving teachers in the decision-making process for policies and programs. In the North Carolina legislature, mixed signals and a lack of consistent support of teachers/public schools both in funding and in policy has led to a struggle to maintain our teacher pipeline and to retain quality teachers. Although the actions of the North Carolina legislature are not in the purview of our local school Board, I believe that we must take advantage of opportunities to communicate the needs of our schools to other levels of government and advocate for strong support of teachers/public schools. Acknowledging the need to address teacher morale is extremely important to recruiting and retaining quality teachers, which is thereby good for the entire community. In my profession as a mental health counselor, I have often seen that one cannot change what is not acknowledged.
Encourage learning, respect and kindness.
A school board member must first and foremost be focused on making sure our children are educated to succeed. Children must have the ability to think independently and critically for themselves in order to succeed as adults. Social media at times creates toxic interactions. There must be respect and kindness in voicing opinions.
Having my children follow the public education path through many states and being involved in their schools, I have seen the differences in different localities. I believe the breadth of my experiences will be a valuable asset.
The school board must be focused on hiring well qualified teachers. Well qualified teachers will make all the difference and are critical to the success of any school system.
A the moment, COVID-19 is the biggest challenge we are facing in Dare County. We need to get the children back in the classroom for an in-school learning environment as quickly and as safely as possible. Educational, physical and mental health needs are paramount.
We also need to make sure that there are multiple ways that our children can succeed. All students will not choose to go on to higher education, so there needs to be options available to them to help them be successful.
Making sure our students have the nourishment they need to be able to focus on their studies and not their hunger is vital.
According to the Road Map of Need study, Dare County is doing quite well statewide. I think we can do better. Dare County is ranked 3rd overall, but 19% of our students have "food insecurity". In order to be able to concentrate and learn, nourishment is a necessity. Dare County also has a juvenile delinquency rate of 47%! These issues must be addressed.
The main way we can recruit and retain qualified teachers is to have affordable housing. In order to achieve this our schools need to be supported by both local and state agencies. We must keep the pressure on to obtain affordable housing in order to attract the most qualified teachers available. The quality of our teachers will determine the quality of the students they teach. I want all of our students to be successful now and as adults.