Advocating for Students & Supporting Families
I am a Wake County native and attended all public schools. I have a Master’s degree from NC Central University and a Bachelor’s degree from NC State University. Also, I am a Mom of a son who attended all public schools in Wake. I’ve worked in the education field for over 30 years. My recent work included 11 years as a federal program administrator monitoring afterschool centers across the state and being the character education consultant at the NC Department of Public Instruction.
I have worked with all 115 NC school districts, non-profits, for profits, faith based and community organizations in securing quality afterschool programs for low income families. I worked for over 20 years with Wake County Schools as a counselor and teacher. In addition, I was elected to the Wake County School Board and served from 2009-2013. In this role, I was Chair of the Student Achievement Committee and Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee.
I believe that a school board member must advocate and support families. In addition, we must hire and retain qualified teachers and administrators with the focus being on student achievement. This will take adherence to state standards, dedicated teaching staff, and appropriate curricula and resources.
A board member must evaluate and modify the district budget as necessary to assure it aligns with advancing student growth and achievement. Currently state funding is about 58% with the county supplying 34% and the federal about 8%. The majority of the budget is spent on staffing. I will collaborate with county commissioners and state leaders in acquiring adequate funding.
Based on the most recent NCDPI data, the teacher turnover rate for elementary teachers in Wake County is 11% in comparison to the state rate of 13%. The turnover rate for middle school teachers is 12% in comparison to the state rate of 14%, and the turnover rate for high school teachers is 11% for Wake and 14% for the state. This shows that Wake teachers are more satisfied overall. Professional development is ongoing and online learning is now available.
Neither important nor unimportant
Pre-K services are important in child development and provide an opportunity for many low income families and other qualifying families to begin their child’s education process. When I worked at the NC Department of Public Instruction for 11 years, the Pre-K area worked closely with the federal program area. I was able to attend Pre-K conferences and learn firsthand from the consultants and parents about the benefits of starting a child early on their learning pathway.
We are fortunate in Wake County to have the highest local supplemental pay in NC. In addition, we have some of the best teaching universities and college programs in NC. I was a teacher and counselor with the WCPSS for over 20 years before working at NCDPI and understand the sacrifices and long hours that teachers put into their jobs. Teachers need to be involved in the decision making process as much as possible and listened to when it comes to implementing their required job duties. Based on the most recent NCDPI data under qualifications, 55% of Wake County’s teachers were effective with 32.2% being highly effective.
WCPSS must work to remove barriers that prevent students from accessing a high-quality education.
I have been serving on the Wake County Board of Education since December of 2018. I have worked extremely hard to build relationships at all 28 schools in District 1. I have attended community engagement events, music and arts events, athletic events, graduations, and PTA/PTSA meetings. My goals in this are to show support for our schools, to listen to feedback from students, teachers, principals, and families, and to help build a community that will support our schools from the inside and outside. Since being elected, I have been involved with civic organizations in a number of ways - from attending and speaking at events to meeting with leaders and listening to concerns of community members. In November of 2019, I was honored in Knightdale with the Mayor’s Award for Commitment to Community. I have a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Indiana University and taught general music, band, chorus, and other PreK-12 classes in public, private, and charter schools in different parts of the country. I am also the proud parent of two WCPSS elementary students.
The most important responsibility of a school board member is to connect with and build relationships that strengthen the community. This goes beyond attending board meetings; it means being present in the community in and around our schools. Understanding the needs and voices of all stakeholders allows a board member to compose more effective policy to support these individuals, better understanding of budgetary needs, and awareness of state and federal legislative impacts to help with intentional advocacy. Our public schools are the center of our communities and they are one of the most beneficial investments for a community. A school board member must be able to balance a deep understanding of policy with these crucial conversations.
The Leandro report did an excellent job of highlighting the ways in which our state funding falls short of what the school system requires to deliver a sound basic education. We need more funding to recruit, train, and retain high-quality educators and administrators, especially at our most disadvantaged schools. We need more resources targeted for at-risk students and students with disabilities to clear barriers both inside and outside the classroom. At the same time, needs more unique to our own district are also not fully met by state/federal funds, such as dedicated transportation for special needs students or a living wage for our lower-paid employees. Using county funds to address those needs makes them more costly, because any increase in the local per-student appropriation must also be shared with charter schools - even if the added funds address needs charters don’t have. Additionally, COVID-19 imposes new needs and will ultimately constrain resources even further. There are no easy answers. What we must do is to prioritize, so we can move forward, and advocate, so the needs will be remembered in better times ahead.
The WCPSS has been making great strides to improve professional development opportunities throughout the county since I have been serving in this role. WCPSS is offering dedicated work days with organized professional development courses based on teacher input and requests, as well as maintaining site-specific opportunities for Professional Learning Team planning and collaboration. Having said that, constant and improved monitoring of teacher working conditions surveys must be maintained, as well as feedback for professional development opportunities to ensure we are meeting the needs of our educators.
Neither important nor unimportant
Pre-K is crucial and should provide all children with developmentally appropriate activities focusing on 21st century learner skills and social/emotional development. It is extremely important that all children have the opportunity for a high-quality Pre-K program. Studies show improved outcomes not only for kindergarten readiness, but for positive long-term academic outcomes throughout the child’s education.
Wake must continue to go above and beyond to bring strong, diverse teachers to the district. The Future Teachers Program is a wonderful opportunity to encourage our own students to return to the WCPSS as teachers. As professionals, teachers also need development opportunities and paths to advance. Monitoring teacher working condition surveys and allowing meaningful opportunity for teacher voice is critical to embracing and valuing our educators.