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USD 501 Topeka District 1 Position 1 BOE

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    John R. Williams

  • Lisa Schmitt

Biographical Information

What is your experience with the school district? Parent? Patron? Alumni? Why do you want to serve this district at this time?

The incidence of youth suicide in Shawnee County has been very high for two decades and is climbing. How do you propose to help the public schools in your district play a role in reversing this trend?

What can your school district do to increase civic involvement of students? Where is civic involvement in your priority list for school activities?

What policies will you support to ensure that all students have access to tools and infrastructure necessary to benefit from distance learning opportunities?

If your personal beliefs are different than those of the district you are elected to represent, what values will you apply when deciding how to vote on issues before the Board?

Personal Biography Married to Corliss A. Williams; five children; ten grandchildren
Campaign Phone (785) 235-2908
Campaign Email REVJRW@aol.com
Education B. Arch. - Kansas State University
Community/Public Service USD 501 Board of Education - Currently Board President Boys & Girls Club of Topeka - Board of Directors Riverfront Advisory Council Topeka Alumni - Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. The New Beginning Baptist Church - Associate Pastor/Youth Pastor NSBA NBC - Western Region Director NFUSSD Executive Steering Committee
I have three children who are graduates of USD 501 and currently have a grand-daughter, grand-nephews, grand-nieces, and cousins attending various USD 501 schools. I am seeking re-election to continue seeking to making a difference in the lives of our youth. I have been a youth advocate since my junior year in high school in a variety of ways. I believe in being hands-on. Currently I am serving as a math tutor at the Juvenile Detention Center however the current health crisis has adversely affected the opportunity to offer any assistance in that regard. Most recently I served as a mentor at the Avondale West Academy. My chief priorities are student academic achievement, Mental health supports especially so in the wake of the pandemic, safety and security, and addressing the digital inequities brought to light again as a result of the pandemic.
USD 501 has done and is doing to reverse the tragic trend of suicide among our young people. As a Board Member, I see my role is ensuring that the right policies are in place and the necessary resources are provided. Some of the initiatives the Superintendent and District Leadership have done are: Created a Youth Suicide Coalition in partnership with Family Service & Guidance Center. I believe this partnership needs to be periodically evaluated for its effectiveness and necessary adjustments made. There are mental teams at every school which administer Social Emotional screenings that were implemented last year to identify any issues that might surface throughout the year. These screenings are given to all students. Mental health issues are identified on registration forms and mental health support is furnished once school starts. The District received a State Mental Health Therapy grant which provides for addition MH staff. Gratefully, no suicides for three consecutive years
Fortunately for me, the importance of civic involvement was instilled into me and my classmates in my 8th grade civics class. Therefore,it is high on my list of what students should be encouraged to be involved with during there school years and beyond. Some of things that have been done to facilitate that are the creation of the Superintendent's Student Advisory Council. Our DCAC has historically had a student representative. School based equity council have been created.
I support our district's policy to update and review annually a technology plan that identifies adequate infrastructure and supports the 1:1 device to ensure students have access access to current technology. Currently students who chose to participate in our virtual school are offered Chromebooks to use at home or away for connectivity. Additionally, students who must quarantine or otherwise participate in remote learning, are provided a device and a temporary internet connection, if needed, to connect remotely. Plans in the making include: applying to the FCC for the ability to allow staff to checkout hotspots, if needed, for remote access during quarantine. Presently this is only permitted for student use under conditions granted by our partner T-Mobile. Also, working with community partners to promote learning opportunities for our families and families w/o TPS students to adopt internet access in the home and to learn valuable internet-based opportunities for economic improvements
As a matter of principle and practice, I seek and welcome views or perspectives from those individuals who align or may differ from mine. I believe that all perspectives or views are valid and have value. In deciding on what position I eventually take on any issue I try to look at it from all perspectives. However, ultimately my final decision is based on what is in the best interest of all of our children.
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