Candidate for Ketchikan School Board
BACKGROUND: I have lived on and off in Ketchikan for over 30 years. I raised my five children here. Three of my children graduated from Kayhi and currently two of my grandchildren attend school here. I have worked in a variety of positions in Ketchikan including Parks and Recreation Programmer, PATCHWorks Director, and more recently WISH and Community Connections. Nowadays I volunteer for many non-profits including Ketchikan Wellness Coalition, refereeing soccer, WISH Board of Directors, Revilla Island Resilience Initiative, First City Rotary and others.
QUALIFICATIONS: I am seeking re-election after four years serving on the Board as I originally started as an appointee. I helped navigate the challenges of a new KEA contract, strengthening policies after the devastating Doug Edwards case, and served as Clerk Treasurer tasked with overseeing District finances. I also served a Board term from 1995-97 during turbulent times when the pulp mill shut down. Over the years I was a PTA leader and served on the Academic Policy Committee of TSAS. Finally, I have a lifetime K-9 teaching credential from the State of California.
ISSUES OF CONCERN:
1. Covid 19 Covid has shaken our education system to the core. I believe KGBSD staff have been heroic in working to deliver education to our students in these challenging times. We learned a lot about what education means. It is not simply transferring knowledge as in a Zoom session, it is also about relationships such as student to student, teacher to student, teacher to families, teacher to teacher and more. Parents and families have been heroic, too, in supporting their children through the school closures. We all developed a deeper appreciation for the skill and dedication of teachers. I supported a full open to begin the school year because we are fortunate in Ketchikan that our Covid circumstances are relatively low community spread and low risk. With strong health and safety measures, I have faith we can make it work. I saw the effects of distance learning on my grandchildren and on teachers. I am hopeful that if we all work together we can make the most of a bad situation. I am a strong advocate for choices and options for families or teachers that face challenging health issues. Students, teachers, families and our community are resilient and committed to keeping our schools open.
2. Budget and funding. Clearly, these are tough financial times for Alaska and Alaskans. Our State leaders have yet to resolve the revenue issue long term, so educational funding remains at high risk for cuts. I believe our District administration and local government have done a great job of preparing for such potential cuts by effectively managing the budget. These are tough economic times for Ketchikan and the loss of revenue for the Borough. KGBSD Admin has created efficiencies while sustaining the quality of education. I have stated in the past and maintain now that we cannot be passive and wait for the State to determine our future. We need to stand as a community and actively advocate for school funding. We need many voices: students, families, School Board and community members. Inflation is real and continued flat funding will ultimately damage our students’ education.
3. Wellness. There is a direct correlation between health and academic performance. Whether it is better nutrition or physical activity, these are important to supporting students in the classroom. KGBSD is striving to become trauma responsive and trauma invested. The Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) and the Association of Alaska School Boards have partnered to support Alaska school districts in adopting trauma informed standards. An example would be our MTSS or Multi-tiered Student Support program that recognizes there are many facets to student learning including readiness and a sense of security. A valuable lesson that we have all learned during the Covid 19 epidemic is that social emotional learning is as important as academic learning. They are interwoven within every student. When we accept and understand this, then we have the keys to opening their minds and true learning happens. I am a strong proponent of trauma responsive and I will work to make the District transition continue to fulfillment.
4. Parental Involvement Schools and teachers alone cannot insure student success. All the research tells us that a school/family partnership is vital. Together we contribute to the success of our students. How many stories have we heard about students who come from challenging backgrounds and rise to excel. LeBron James shares that his mother worked two jobs and he missed 87 days in third grade. Yet he rose above with support to succeed. Parental/family support is communicating with the teachers, providing support at home with a good routine of homework help, regular mealtime and adequate rest. Education is a family endeavor. We should do everything we can to encourage parental involvement at many levels, and I am aware that many of our schools work diligently to do so.
Finally, I care a lot about our students and our Ketchikan community, so I would appreciate your vote on October 6th. Thank you.
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