My interest in school board policies and programs dates back many years. I care deeply about the issues that impact our kids and schools. I would be honored to serve Distric 1 as a representative of our school board. Below are some of the way I think about these important issues. My strategy is always to listen and learn from people with multiple perspectives. You can count on me engaging with people across all sides of an issue before making decisions.
My top areas of focus for our schools include:
- Schools that manage resources wisely to include reasonable class size, teacher support for professional development and classroom support, the best possible learning technologies, and the ability to support a diverse student body. I believe in equipping our kids with the skills to be able to learn for the rest of their lives!
- The mental health/well-being of students, families, teachers, and staff because better health and well-being results in more successful outcomes.
- The health and safety of our kids and staff, enabled by facility and support staff to ensure a high functioning school system.
- Building partnership across sectors and between stakeholders, to leverage our collective strengths, fill gaps, and spark innovative ideas. In order to strengthen our school systems, it’s going to take input and collaboration from a diverse community of parents, kids, teachers and staff, policy makers, funders, advocacy groups, government, and much more.S
Student mental/social emotional health is an area that needs more support and attention. As we come out of a very difficult period following a global pandemic, where many of our kids struggled with inconsistencies, challenges at home, and lack of social connectedness, it is imperative that we discuss how schools play a role in this issue. My first steps to address this would be to better understand the resources available to address this issue, and how we can develop community partnerships (with for example Jefferson Center for Mental Health) to bring more connections and support for students, staff, and teachers to our schools. This is my professional area of expertise, and I am aware of the growing public, nonprofit, and private sector support for
kids’ mental health. We can potentially tap into that.
Strong Neighborhood Schools. Every family in Jeffco needs to know they have the option to send their kids to a great neighborhood school. Building the infrastructure, staffing the schools, and creating a welcoming environment for families and kids is essential to building a strong school
Closing the Achievement Gap. The data shows that we can do better as a district. Closing the achievement gap means looking closely at the factors that make learning difficult for our families across neighborhoods. We can see where the gaps are, now we need to be strategic and thoughtful about how we can put systems in place to address inequities, deficiencies, and better support families who need it most.
Early Childhood Investments. The future depends on a strong start. Investments in early childhood systems means kids who are prepared to be successful throughout their lives. The systems include our schools, and the community network of resources that support families to provide early childhood experiences for families. High school graduation rates depend on early starts that are building supportive, collaborative environments for kids as a foundation of lifelong learning.
Teacher staffing and retention in Jefferson county is a critical concern. As a parent, I have witnessed challenges in hiring for my girls’ classrooms, as well as the lack of available substitute teachers. Even before COVID we had a teacher shortage, and now I read almost daily about
teachers choosing to take time off or leave the profession. This strain on our schools is a systemic issue, influenced by a number of issues – constrained budgets, competition for teachers in other districts, burnout and exhaustion, fear from COVID, and high teacher turnover. We need to consider how to build a teacher recruitment and retention strategy that makes us competitive with other districts. I would start by asking teachers what they need, and what will keep them in our schools.
Equity remains an issue in our schools. Kids of different colors, ethnicities, sexual orientations, faiths, and class are affected by the inequities of their experiences. Research tells us that 85% of our health and well-being outcomes are determined by the zip code we are born in to. This is
true for kids, and when a child is struggling with issues at home, poverty, food insecurities, or other social and economic challenges, they can hardly be successful at school. We need to consider how to address these issues of inequity form a systemic lens. I would begin to address this issue by better understanding the data related to inequities in our county, and how that is
impacting education outcomes. Three things I would do to address inequities in the school system include:
- Ensuring all kids have the resources they need in their neighborhood schools to be successful, regardless of class, color, religion, or sex.
- Supporting teachers and staff through professional development to discuss and address inequities in their schools, though an equity lens.
- Celebration of diversity and success of progress when it happens.