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Jefferson County School Director District 4

Jeffco Public Schools will have two of its five Board of Education seats open for election: Director District 3 and Director District 4. Jeffco Public Schools voters will vote on all candidates choosing one per director district. Both serving a 4-year term ending 2023.

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  • Candidate picture

    Joan Chavez-Lee

  • Candidate picture

    Susan Miller

Biographical Information

What is your motivation to want to become a school board member?

What is your vision for education in this community?

How can or does a district attract and retain quality teachers?

How would you handle the requests, if approached, by a member of the community? Special interest groups? Teacher?

Background Education: B.A., Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara. Teacher and principal licensure programs, University of Colorado at Denver. M.A., Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Colorado at Denver. Retired Jeffco Public Schools employee. I began teaching for Jeffco during the 1991- 1994 school year and ended teaching during the 2000 - 2001 school year. As a teacher I taught grades K - 5 and I also was a Teacher on Special Assignment for the Office on Educational Equity. I began my administrative work during the 2001-2002 school year and retired after the 2010-2011 school year. During that time I was the assistant principal and principal at Molholm E.S., the principal at Russell E.S. and the principal at Wheat Ridge Middle School. My current community involvement includes being a member and treasurer of the Kiwanis Club of Wheat Ridge and serving on the Board of Directors for CASA of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties. In addition, I also serve as a board appointee on the Jeffco District Accountability Committee and I have been volunteering in my granddaughter's classroom for the last two years.
Contact e-mail
Contact phone (720) 363-5741
My motivation for wanting to become a school board member is based on my strong support for public education. Public education supports many missions that include, preparing students to become economically self-sufficient, guaranteeing equal opportunities for all students and unifying a diverse population. As a former Jeffco teacher and principal, and a former Jeffco parent and now proud grandparent, I believe that I will bring a wealth of experience and perspective to this position. I know how important it is that all Jeffco students receive a quality education and that all Jeffco families become a part of a positive, productive and respectful school community. I have been an advocate for Jeffco students for many years and now I want to bring that commitment and experience to the board of education.
My vision is all students in Jeffco Public Schools receive an excellent education founded on developing academic, prosocial and problem solving skills that will allow them to be successful in their next stage of life.
The district needs to continue with the positive steps that have been made toward providing competitive compensation for our teachers. All Jeffco principals need to continue their collaborative work on developing a positive school climate for all students, teachers and staff members. In addition, the district needs to continue providing teacher professional development opportunities that are aligned to the district's and their school's strategic plan.
A school board member should serve as a link between the district and the school community. I believe that while it is not the job of a school board member to micromanage issues that occur in the district, it is important that all members of the school community feel that their concerns are being heard and considered while addressing a particular issue.
Background I attended public schools and graduated from Northwestern University. I began my career in finance at Standard & Poor's Corporation where I rated municipal bonds. I moved into banking and currently work at a firm that advises school districts across the country on enrollment, planning, financing, and project management. Most importantly, I’m a mom. I’ve had four children navigate through Jeffco schools including Kyffin Elementary, Creighton and Evergreen Middle Schools and Lakewood and Wheat Ridge High Schools. I've also volunteered - a lot. I’ve chaired the Wheat Ridge High School Accountability Committee and continue to serve on it. I was president of the WRHS PTSA for over five years, and am an avid supporter of its STEM programs. I also served on the district Diversity Council and Choice Committee. For six years I served as president of the Jefferson Association for Gifted Children, advocating for gifted and twice exceptional special education students at the local and state level. I am a board member of National History Day Colorado and serve on the Advisory Council for the Colorado Student Leadership Institute. And at the national level, I was a founding parent of the organization now known as Learning Heroes, that seeks to inform and empower parents to effectively advocate for their children's education. I strongly believe in strong partnerships between administrators, teachers and parents all working together for the benefit of Jeffco students. I've seen it done, right here in Jeffco at Wheat Ridge High School, which has 37% Latinx students, and where 50% of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Even at an allegedly "challenged" school, those partnerships created a vibrant community and produced strong achievement growth for all students.
Contact phone 720-548-0518
Every parent I know is worried about whether schools are preparing their children to succeed in the 21st century economy. And Jeffco needs to do a better job: 75% of our 3rd graders eligible for free and reduced lunch (FRL) didn't meet state literacy standards on the 2019 CMAS, 65% of all 6th graders didn’t meet the state math standards, 62% of all 8th graders didn’t meet the science standards. And our SAT scores declined. If you can't read well, it's hard to keep up and extremely hard for teachers to differentiate instruction and change the student task. Our achievement problems go beyond poverty, as only 30% of Jeffco students are FRL. If the district’s performance doesn’t improve – including offering better career and technical education programs for students not immediately heading to college – our children don’t get a “do over.” They will struggle all their lives. For the sake of our kids and our state we must do better.
I envision a well managed and strongly governed district with a high performance culture that efficiently uses a billion dollars in annual revenue to prepare all students for college and career success in the 21st century. We also need to ensure we effectively partner with parents, employers, and community organizations, and attract and retain a highly talented and deeply engaged staff. We must also provide them with the classroom resources, professional development, and leadership they need to create a high performance culture. I have seen this done here in Jeffco at Wheat Ridge High School, and want to see the same supportive community culture spread across the whole district.
Attracting and retaining a high quality staff begins with ensuring they are well compensated. It also involves ensuring all staff has: opportunity for mastery of their craft, a reasonable degree of autonomy to enable continuous learning and innovation, and a shared and worthwhile organizational purpose. The quality of an employee’s colleagues, managers, and leaders, and the type of culture they collectively create, is usually the key reason people stay or leave a job. To be sure, pay is important, but it is not the only factor.
As school board members we are also the voice of the community and we need to ensure all community members are heard and their concerns are well handled by the district. Fundamentally, the board’s role is to provide the district with strong governance, which includes a limited number of activities: setting goals and critiquing and approving the strategy for achieving them; ensuring a billion tax dollars in revenue allocated to implement that strategy and efficiently used; monitoring risks to the strategy’s success; holding the Superintendent accountable for performance; and accurately presenting the district’s results to our many stakeholders. The board’s role is not management, and directors have to take care not to cross that line. So if a request was related to governance, I would share it with the board. If related to management, I'd pass to other board members, staff and the superintendent to ensure transparency of communication.