1. Tell us a little about yourself including why you are running and what goals you hope to accomplish
My goal is to make board decisions openly discussed and openly decided. As a retired educator and public servant, I have become more and more concerned about the lack of communication and mis-communication which seems rampant in all aspects of public life. I have worked for the schools in Ohio and West Virginia in both ‘regular’ and ‘special’ education and feel that my expertise would be useful for Kanawha County schools. So I decided to run for school board for Kanawha county. I have never run for a public office before. This is a new experience for me.
2. What do you see as the role of a Board of Education member?
A Board of Education member must be knowledgeable and informed about the system and how it operates. The board should oversee the operation of the schools. Board members must maintain contact with teachers, administrators, students, parents and the general public. Board members must look at issues from all sides and the board, after open discussion, should make wise decisions to benefit first and foremost the students of the district. The board is not a ‘rubber stamp’. Issues should be openly discussed and openly decided.
3. What qualifications and attributes lead you to believe you would be a good Kanawha County Board of Education member?
I am a West Virginia native, born in Parkersburg. I received my doctorate (Ed D George Washington University) in 2004. I worked as a Teacher, Special Education Director and RESA Coordinator in Ohio and West Virginia. I have worked in West Virginia as a Licensure Program Manager and in other capacities for WV DHHR. I recognize the current lack of communication problem. I have good verbalization skills. I can definitely lead the system toward being more open and transparent with the goal of good schools that teach our kids the skills to think and exist in our society.
4. For Non-Incumbent candidates, what would you have done similarly or differently than the current Board of Education?
As a retired educator and public servant, I have become more and more concerned about communication/mis-communication which seems rampant with the current school board. People ( the taxpayers and parents and grandparents and students} seem to get left out in the cold when it comes to understanding the ‘what and why’ of things the school board does. Board meetings are orchestrated theater. The decisions and discussions appear to be behind closed doors. This is not right. The primary function of a board should be to assure the integrity of the organization. It is not about making new rules. After all, “Put rules in place and some people stop thinking” – Jonathan Kellerman. If nothing else, the board has not acted to keep talented teachers and staff. It can’t even be seen as credible since it says one thing, then six months or so later, goes back on its word.
5. Kanawha County continues to face declining enrollment. What considerations should be given in terms of school facilities and infrastructure spending?
School facilities and infrastructure are important supports, but they exist to facilitate learning. The first goal of the board must be support teachers, administrators and parents in creating a school environment that is conducive to learning. Schools should be a selling point for people looking to relocate here (whether from New York or New Martinsville).Decisions about closure or use of school facilities should be discussed thoroughly in public, with the public. There must be increased communication between the board and the public on these issues and every issue. The board needs to be up front with the people it serves. There should be more, far more, communication. And communication is the sharing of ideas and information. It is not glitzy web sites or the products of spin doctors!
6. What are your views on the impacts of the pandemic and what would you do to close the learning gap created by this crisis?
The learning gap is really the result of organized schools relying on 20th century teaching modalities. Then the 21st century pandemic forced the system to adjust to the reality of distance learning, Zoom classrooms and education far more individualized than any special education classroom ever dreamed. We did not adjust well. Hence the learning gap –a gap between the world held by teachers and administration and the computer milieu inhabited by the students. We did not know how to teach them. It wasn’t that they couldn’t learn.How would I fix that? All our teachers should be computer literate. It wouldn’t solve the problem, but at least the educators could speak the same language as the students.
7. There are many ongoing pandemic-related challenges facing education, including teacher fatigue. How would you address these issues?
Employees should be an integral part of the decision making process, valued members of the team. We all should be interested in the same thing –the best possible education for our students. If the board doesn’t value and respect its teachers/employees, how can one expect employees to have ownership of any outcomes?Teachers will stay if they are respected for their expertise AND their opinions. If they aren’t a member of the team, they will leave and go somewhere that respects and needs them. They are professionals.The same should be said of administration and for that matter, parents. The board must be the team leader, but I just don’t see that happening.