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Holdrege School Board, Dist 44

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    Elena Olson King

Biographical Information

How can your school district improve its use of technology, including broadband access, to foster better equity and educational outcomes?

What can be done to ensure the safety of students and teachers in your school?

As a school board member, how do you best advocate for your district's teachers and students in preparing students for the 21st century job market?

Occupation Central Community College Holdrege Learning Center Manager
Education Class of 1997 from Elm Creek Public School. Graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors Degree in English Education from Union College, post-graduate studies in Educational Technology at Peru State College.
Current Public Office, dates held N/A
Past Public Office, dates held N/A
Military experience N/A
Volunteer experience Feed My Starving Children volunteer, Bible study teacher, fostered four teenagers in our home.
Address 509 Morton St. Holdrege, NE 68949
Marital Status Married to my best friend for 18 years.
Age 41
COVID-19 has laid bare existing inequities in broadband access. In order to ensure we can reach students who do not have internet access at home, we could follow the lead of other districts around the US by creating wireless hot spots in school busses. Wi-Fi could also be expanded outside of schools to allow students to download information needed in a drive-up manner from parking lots.

Further, the Chromebook rental fee should be eliminated because there are families on the edge of poverty who do not qualify for the waived fee. It is arguable whether the Chromebook usage fee violates the Nebraska State Constitution's requirement for a free public education.

Technology can be a tool to help learning, however, it's also important not to eliminate traditional textbooks and written work. According to the Journal of American Medical Assn, excessive screen time is linked to lower cognitive and language outcomes.
As a substitute teacher in another district, I have led a classroom of students in an active shooter drill. It was one of the most humbling moments in my life and made clear to me that most of us don't understand the grave duty teachers are responsible for on a daily basis. It is crucial to use every tool at our disposal to keep both students and staff safe. Locked doors are not enough.

Schools need to ensure all staff are certified in mental health first aid. It is a free, day-long training available from the local behavioral service region. Next, identifying students who are at risk of violence needs to be a constant, on-going effort. Every teacher needs to be on this team and have the support of administration and mental health professionals.

Students need to formally practice kindness and empathy through teacher-led projects. They can't be taught a negative: "not to bully." A culture of support and acceptance needs to be modeled by both staff and student leaders.
As a former GED instructor, I have coached students as they navigated their career options and provided guidance on their best educational path. While I'm grateful that I chose a 4-year degree, my experience as the center manager for Central Community College Holdrege has developed my understanding of college advising. College and post-secondary education shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all.

Students should be counseled to find what they love to do, then figure a way to earn a living doing that. Some students excel at hands-on work and should be encouraged to earn an associates degree or a certificate program. Early College classes are one way to help students get a head start toward their career. The earlier they start college classes, the sooner they can enter the job market, helping to avoid a heavy student debt load.

As a board member, advocating for Early College and other career training courses would benefit both students and our community as a whole.