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?
Serving the community has been a life long interest and commitment and serving on the Board of Education is an extension of my undertaking. My sincere desire to serve as a member of the Board of Education stems from my passion and genuine care for our children’s education. I will draw upon my teacher education, extensive paralegal experience and volunteer activities to promote and encourage a high quality education for all students. Collaborative efforts, with emphasis on providing all children a path to a successful life are an integral and critical component of the education process. As a graduate of Central Connecticut State University, with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in secondary education, majoring in social sciences, my first introduction to the Bristol school system was as a teacher trainee at Bristol Central High School. Since that time I have raised two children in our Bristol school system and have actively participated in my children’s education as Girl Scout Troop leader, PTO secretary and soccer coach and team manager at Bristol soccer club. I have also volunteered at the American Red Cross, in local hospitals and in local schools tutoring students. I am currently employed as a senior paralegal with Day Pitney LLP.
2) If elected, what would be your immediate priorities?
Maintaining a high quality education for all students will be the number one priority for me and is one of the greatest challenges facing the Board of Education during these tough economic times. Among my immediate priorities this coming year are ensuring a smooth transition associated with a city wide redistricting plan and the opening of the two K-8 schools, voicing an opinion in the selection of a new superintendant of schools and revising the middle school curriculum. I have heard the concerns voiced by city wellness, health and physical education teachers, and parents regarding the changes to the middle school curriculum that will reduce valuable time for physical education and health instructions. As childhood obesity has become a national epidemic, children need opportunities to engage in physical activity and learn about good health and nutrition. Schools have a role in addressing this health issue and must offer programs that adequately recognize its importance. In addition, recognizing the positive correlation between parent/family involvement and a student’s success, fostering volunteerism in our schools will be a priority.
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?
Parents/family and teachers have a collaborative role in educational decision making. Initiating and maintaining open communication between parents/family and teachers is key to a successful educational experience. Communication between parents/family and teachers isn’t always easy but each must have mutual respect for one another and need to understand the other’s point of view to reap the greatest benefits of open communication. As a board member, I will encourage parents/teachers to attend parent-teacher conferences, utilize Parent Portal, join the PTA in their schools and most importantly advocate for parent/family involvement in the schools. I will urge parents/family, teachers and PTA representatives to attend Board of Education meetings and participate in public comment to voice their concerns and opinions. Being a board member also means being visible, accessible and highly responsive to any parent, family member, teacher, student and community member. I welcome any communication at any time. As a board member, I will be a liaison to certain schools and will establish and maintain a close working relationship with the school community.
4) What are the dividing lines between parents, teachers, and administrators when it comes to accountability for student progress?
While each parent, teacher and administrator has a specific and unique role within the education system, in essence there are no dividing lines among these partners in education. Individuals involved in a child’s education must interact and collaborate with each other and each is accountable for student progress in their own way.
Parents/family members are the foundation and steady hand that must keep their child focused on the importance of education and send them to school prepared to learn the lessons of the day. Parents/family members must support the learner with their studies and homework, address their concerns and supplement the classroom lesson plans. Parents/family members must actively participate in their child’s education and establish a vital relationship with teachers.
Teachers are the second most important person in a child’s life (after parents/family). They serve as educators, role models, guides, facilitators and counselors, and are responsible for a child’s educational progress. Teachers must be 100% committed to providing each student a quality education by taking each student’s individual needs into consideration. It is critical that teachers keep open communication with parents/family members and encourage family participation in the education process to enhance a child’s success and student progress. The student is also an active participant accountable for his or her own progress and education. Students have the responsibility to learn, come to school prepared, and be the best they can be.
Administrators are responsible for maintaining a safe and secure learning environment that provides all students with the necessary knowledge and skills to be a successful citizen regardless of whether or not they go onto post-secondary education. They are responsible for supporting programs and hiring qualified teachers that will provide a high quality education as well as making available the tools and resources that account for student progress.
5) What is your opinion of the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) act and its legacy?
NCLB is not working and is failing our students and teachers. The goals behind NCLB are well-intended but its execution and legacy has proven otherwise. By its own standards a huge number of school districts (Department of Education estimates more than 80%) will be labeled as failing for not reaching an unrealistic goal of 100% proficiency in reading and math by 2014. Holding schools accountable for test scores has forced teachers to focus on test preparation at the expense of having less time for history, science, art and foreign language. Test scores are a snapshot of performance and are not the sole basis of measuring a student’s success. Sanctions (firing teachers and administrators and closing schools) associated with failing schools undermine and destroy confidence in public education. In an effort to fix flaws of NCLB and to push education reform forward President Obama has invited states to seek waivers of specific provisions of NCLB, including timelines for proficiency. While President Obama has offered a temporary relief, the provisions of NCLB should be revisited and rewritten.
6) What else would you like our members to know about your candidacy?
As a daughter of immigrant parents I learned the value of an education at a very early age. My parents came to the United States in hopes of a more prosperous future for our family. They stressed how education plays a key role in one’s future and instilled in me a desire to achieve in school. I am the first member of our family to attend college and realized my childhood dream of becoming a teacher when I grew up. As a parent and board member I will strive and work diligently to provide all students with a successful, high quality education – the foundation for their future. As a newcomer, new voice I will embrace the challenges faced by Bristol’s urban school district with students of diverse backgrounds and put the needs of students first.