1) What background or prior life experience qualifies you for a position on the Board of Education? What inspired you to run for a position on the BOE at this particular time?
My professional background includes: 23 years as a principal of a K-5 elementary school, 8 years as a high school guidance counselor, and 4 years as a high school teacher. While at the high school, I also was a coach and the adult education coordinator. During my career, I raised three children who attended Bristol public schools from Kindergarten through high school graduation. Naturally, this put me in the world of PTA, sports, and various other extra-curricular activities for many years.
After retirement, I remained in contact with many of my former colleagues and have been heartened during conversations that would often lead to reflecting on the successes achieved while working together. Education has been a big part of my life and I would very much like to be involved once again. Several former faculty members as well as friends and neighbors that I have worked with in other endeavors have stepped forward to support me as a candidate.
2) If elected, what would be your immediate priorities?
As a board member I hope to use my experience to fulfill my role as someone who remains focused on student learning. The function of a quality board depends on members who support and understand the workings of a school district. Among a multitude of areas that a board member would address include public relations, compliance with state and federal legislation, budget oversight, and monitoring policy – I am familiar with all the issues that will be put before the Bristol Board of Education. My strengths are in personnel and budget issues. In particular, I am very interested in being a part of selecting the next superintendent.
3) What is the role of parents and teachers in educational decision making? How will you seek out the input of each and maintain communication?
A communication process is usually in place in a school district for numerous concerns, issues, or, as you say, for educational decision making. This communication pathway is usually driven by a particular concern, and most of these can be addressed at the classroom level with the teacher who is the closest to the student and therefore the parent. A good model to illustrate is the classic triad comprised of the teacher, parent, and student. Each of the three are automatically bound in a close relationship. Most issues, concerns, or problems are addressed and solved at this level and, in fact, never rise to a higher level. Having said that, there is a need to move certain issues to a higher level. Again, there is a process or chain of command that allows logical steps leading to the appropriate person to continue towards a solution or remedy.
Regarding my seeking out the input of teachers and parents, a board member usually receives information from administrators and occasionally from teachers. Those recommendations have traveled up the path to be considered by the board. Once at the board level, it will be my charge to avail myself to all information and/or input from all levels–again, the parents, teachers, administrators, etc. Having reviewed and analyzed all the pieces, the board should set policy through votes. As a parent – and grandparent, I understand that parents are educators of their children. I will always support giving parents the tools they need to be a positive influence on their child’s learning.
I have worked with teachers for thirty-five years. Four of those years were spent in the classroom as a teacher. I will always endeavor to understand the teacher’s point of view when deciding issues.
4) What are the dividing lines between parents, teachers, and administrators when it comes to accountability for student progress?
Student progress is being measured more than ever in the current climate. This question can explore a multitude of perspectives. For example, the classic triad model (above) puts all three as responsible parties, each one with a different kind of task yet pulling together for the best possible outcome. This example would place no lines between parents, teachers, and administrators. It is a model that I believe in.
5) What is your opinion of the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) act and its legacy?
The belief of setting high standards and establishing goals that can be measured is laudable. The mission, few would dispute, to raise individual outcomes in education is also laudable. The title ‘No Child Left Behind’ probably captures what I believe and what I think with certainty every teacher (even prior to this law) has always sought to accomplish each and every day as he/she enters the classroom: I will do my best to leave no child behind! It is a given for the teacher who is a professional. That said, this law comes with many requirements that challenge the very best of systems. It is under this fact, hence, this law, that I have worked in my personal career and would continue as I serve on the board. The law is fixed and cannot be circumvented. However, in my experience, when dealing with top-notch professionals, there are ways to deal with requirements, challenges, and constraints in order to achieve high standards/outcomes within a district. Professionals always come through with ingenuity, invention, creative solutions, and in the long run, excellence. I believe teachers, especially, are the essence of the education process and from them great things come. In my personal experience, teachers have never let me down.
A second and important element to NCLB is the “accountability” issue. This cuts both ways. Proponents hail, i.e., annual standardized tests that yield answers to a school’s ability to measure up to required standards. This research/data helps determine funding levels: more, less, or none. Opponents see NCLB as a punishment or a burdensome quagmire of bureaucracy or a waste of money. The bottom line is that it is a law and we must as a district work within in its boundaries. As a member of the Bristol Board of Education, I understand that I will be able to advocate for changes to the law that may be unworkable.
6) What else would you like our members to know about your candidacy?
I have been involved in every aspect of the educational process for 35 years officially and my entire adult life in general. As a result, I have all of the tools to review, analyze, and synthesize the multitude of issues a school district faces. I have not run for public office before, I am choosing to run because I believe that I can give back to the community, help children to achieve, and contribute my expertise.