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    2020 School Board Candidates

    Chippewa Valley Schools

October 7, 2020

Christopher Gura

Pronouns:he/him
School District:Chippewa Valley Schools
City:Macomb Township

How long have you lived in your district?

From 1972 to 1995; 2007-present

Have you received any endorsements?

Not at this time.

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I am running for a position on the Chippewa Valley School Board to support and help lead what I think is one of the best school districts in the state. As an alumnus of the district and district parent , Chippewa Valley Schools has provided my family and me with a fantastic education. I want to give back , and be a part of that experience for current and future generations , to ensure that families continue to have a quality education and positive public school experience. I believe that serving on the district’s board of education is one of the most important aspects of public service , as a public school district’s vision shapes our childrens’ abilities and success in life.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

To me , education justice means that all kids have fair and equal access to educational opportunities and experiences no matter the student’s background , race , ethnicity , etc. In the context of Chippewa Valley Schools , which is a very large district covering two different municipalities , and compassing a relatively diverse community of differing backgrounds and affluence , it is ensuring that all of our students are treated fairly and have the same opportunities to achieve their personal and educational goals.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

I would maintain the traditional school experience , but with the ability to quickly and seamlessly adjust to temporary virtual instruction in the event of another pandemic. If we are able to adjust and adapt quickly , we would be able to protect our students and staff while continuing classroom instruction with little or no interruption. This would allow the district to act early to minimize the effects of any future public health crises so our students can get back to the traditional classroom setting in a more expedient manner.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

School board members are public servants that are elected by the district residents. As such , it is paramount that the members of the community have a voice and are involved in making decisions affecting the district. Parents and families specifically should be informed and engaged in conversations involving district decisions so as to enhance the support between the district , parents and teachers.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

Individual contributions

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

High quality classroom instruction , safe schools and security , and budget/fiscal responsibility

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

Increasing public school funding , transparency , increasing access to vocational and CTE programs

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

As with all districts , Chippewa Valley is facing the challenge of transitioning the students from virtual/remote instruction to a full-time , in-person , traditional classroom setting. Our district has to have a comprehensive plan to bring the kids back while maintaining all safety protocols , i.e. , masks , social distancing and sanitation regimen , to keep the students and staff safe. The district must also have a reasonable response plan to contain and mitigate the effect of COVID in the in the event of an outbreak.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

In the coming years , our district will be faced with significant budget issues due to anticipated funding reductions due to the COVID pandemic. I will help guide the board in making reasonable , fiscally responsible budget decisions. In doing so , I would take all steps to prioritize spending to ensure that all necessary programming is maintained with a specific focus on technology , instruction and curriculum/staff development. I would work to maintain and preserve not only our athletic programs but also all fine arts programming so that our students are provided with well-rounded and enriched public school experience.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

Standardize testing serves an important role in measuring our students’ grasp of state content standards. However , I do not believe that they should be as heavily weighted as the are currently. Many classes spend too much time and energy on test preparation (“teaching the test”) rather than focusing on other , more creative and valuable lessons that enrich the students knowledge and educational experience. Furthermore , focusing too much on standardize testing is detrimental to those students who are not good test-takers and have different learning abilities.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

As a board member , I would talk with our teachers and staff and work to ensure that they are provided with the necessary resources to maintain and enhance the quality curriculum offered to our students.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

I believe that our school district personnel are essential in supporting the mental and emotional well-being of our students and staff. Because students and staff spend so much time in school (whether virtual or in person) , I believe our mental health support professionals are instrumental in identifying , analyzing and providing support for mental health issues. This is especially important in light of the mental health crisis that has resulted with many of our students and staff due to the COVID epidemic. It is important that the each school’s guidance counselors , social workers and administrators have the necessary resources to provide social and emotional support for the students and staff.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

Students’ discipline should be handled on a case-by-case basis and fairly implemented in accordance with the circumstance of each instance. It is imperative that the district recognize and address issues that require disciplinary measures in swift and sensitive manner to ensure that the schools are as safe as possible for students and staff.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

Given the COVID pandemic , the top priority for special needs students in the district should be to get the students back to in-person education. With the entire district having been virtual since March , special needs students have not received the education and attention needed to progress and thrive in accordance with each student’s IEP.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

I believe that working to achieve a system of equity within our school district is important to ensure that resources are distributed in such a way so that needs of all students are served.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I have been an attorney specializing in business litigation for over 18 years. After spending my entire K-12 years in Chippewa Valley Schools , I attended Michigan State University (BA , 1994) and then earned my law degree in 2002 from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. As an attorney and litigator , I have experience making tough , strategic decisions , often times in the face of adversity. I will bring to the table the business acumen and problem-solving skills to help guide the district and resolve complex issues based on objective fact , data , and reason balanced with compassion and empathy. In addition to my professional experience , I have served as the President and trustee of the Chippewa Valley Educational Foundation , a non-profit organization that provides supplemental funding to our teachers and students through mini-grants and scholarships. I will draw upon my experience with the Foundation to continue to support our teachers and students.

October 4, 2020

Aimee Crellin

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictChippewa Valley Schools
City:Clinton Township

How long have you lived in your district?

44 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Chippewa Valley Employee Coalition, Fems for Dems, Macomb Democratic Committee, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, Official Black Caucus of Macomb, Michigan Education Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I am motivated to run for Chippewa Valley School Board for the following reasons. First, I think back to all that I’ve gained from the district during my 12 years as a student. Now, as a parent of two children that are in the school district, I am aware of parental concerns as well as solutions to those concerns. Second, I want to be involved in the decision making process not only for my own children but for all of the students and parents in the district. Lastly, I have the experience, education and time to devote to making sure that Chippewa Valley School District is one that other districts emulate.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Chippewa Valley district teachers, administration and support staff are one of the main reasons why I am running for school board. Education justice ensures that students receive a quality education. Chippewa Valley School District provides many resources for their students including school clubs, programs and athletics. However, as a large district, there is still room to grow and develop future leaders. We need to ensure that all the students within the district have opportunities to find success.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

It’s unfortunate that the world is undergoing a drastic change in how we once lived. As a parent, my number 1 concern is the safety and health of my family. I don’t think we can provide a safe environment for all of our students just yet. I think the best way is returning students in small increments. As we return students to school we can re-examine what areas need more or less concern.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

With such a large district, our board meetings should be packed. Education should be one of, if not the most important factor in an adolescent’s life; therefore parents should be informed of the day to day happenings of the district. Parents, neighbors, businesses should all be encouraged to attend meetings. Attendance is the first step, but it is also important for all to understand that they are heard. All voices are equal. It should not be the same people bringing up the same issues. We are a diverse district and our meetings should reflect that. We are all shareholders in our community and we should have the same goal…success for our students leads to success for us all

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

Chippewa Valley Employee Coalition

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

1. Allow educators to have a voice in developing curriculum
2. Making sure the curriculum within the district is the same between schools. It will allow teachers to collaborate on learning materials
3. Professional learning- educate your educators

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

1. Develop curriculum for career preparedness programs including job skills, and internships
2. Increase test scores/data
3. Provide educators the opportunity to shadow other educators to enrich their personal teaching abilities

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

I will not fault the school for unforeseen challenges. COVID is new to us all, it is unfair to think the school administration has all the answers. We need to come together as a community and work through the challenges together. As a forward thinking district I’m confident the district will develop plans that can allow students to choose a learning environment that ensures everyone’s safety.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

1. Technology
2. Training for students to be successful with online learning
3.Teacher and administration salaries

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

Standardized tests should play a partial role when it comes to allocation of funds and teacher performance. In addition to standardized testing student performance, practical applications of content learned and the ability to retain content should also be looked at when it comes to student success.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

I personally would like students to have a mandatory a life readiness class. Another class I feel is extremely important for students to learn and understand would be mental health and support services in the community.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

I believe the school district should work closely with local agencies that deal with mental health and emotional well-being.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

As a parent a huge fear of mine is an unsafe learning environment. I couldn’t imagine being a teacher and worrying about the safety of their students. I believe the teachers should have a large voice as to the tools they need to feel safe within the schools. Students and parents all need to be made aware of the schools disciplinary actions. Students should to be held accountable for their behavior.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

Chippewa Valley School district has amazing programs geared to special education. I think it would be beneficial now to develop plans to teach these youth ways to continue success virtually if remote learning is needed again in the near future.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

Every student deserves a chance. Unfortunately, not every student in our district is fortunate enough to have a strong support system at home. I’m sure most teachers can recognize these students quickly and dedicate extra time to meet their needs. Those students still need more. The district can possibly start a mentor program. It will allow older students to become leaders.

Any other information you want to include or share?

October 4, 2020

Jolene Andriaschko

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictChippewa Valley Schools
City:Macomb

How long have you lived in your district?

On and off for 35 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Yes, Chippewa Valley Employee Coalition, Fems for Dems, Michigan Regional Carpenters and Millwrights, Macomb County Democratic Committee, MEA and Democratic Black Caucus of Macomb Count.

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I am running for Chippewa Valley School Board because I want to make a difference in my community. With the experience I have as both a parent and educational professional I can make a direct impact to our district. I understand the struggles that education professionals face and the same time understanding the difficult decisions parents make. I have the compassion and empathy for parents and teachers who want the best for our children of all abilities. I will work to make Chippewa Valley Schools a district where you will no doubt want to send your children, a district of excellent communication, a district of transparent policies and a model employer of educational professionals in Macomb County.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

To me education justice means that all students have the right to a free and public education and that all students are treated equality. Within my school district this means a deeper look into equality for all of the students enrolled.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

Schools would have plans in place for if another public health crisis takes place.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

Parents, students and families should have have input in the decisions within the school district. This can look like attending board meetings, contacting administration, speaking to the school principal and perusing avenues to express their opinion to the district.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

Edu-PAC

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

To increase communication with families, to increase opportunities for our students, and to have an equitable educational experience for all.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

At the state level my top 3 priorities would be to increase school funding for school districts, re-evaluate the testing that is required, and having an equitable education experience for all.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

The challenge that I anticipate is keeping everyone safe. I believe that my school district should follow the safe start guidelines put out by the state. Also, policies and procedures need to be implemented and tested out before students return to the buildings.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Top priorities should be paying teaching staff a living wage. This will help to attract new job talent to the district. I would need to look at the budget and data to decide what should not be prioritized.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

They are important for state requirements. All students learn differently and I believe that standardized tests should be further researched in regard to different learning styles.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

I would keep the school districts curriculum the same. I would encourage the administration to keep up to date on the latest in curriculum research to keep our district on the cutting edge.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

Especially with pandemic it is now more important than ever to check in with our staff and students to make sure their mental and emotional needs are being met.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

Discipline issues should be dealt with quickly. Administration should be continually re-evaluating safety measures within the district.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

Having a special needs daughter special education is of top priority to me. Special Education students need to have an equitable education experience within the district.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

There needs to be open dialog with all students at all levels. I truly believe that change and equity will happen with we all come together and start to have those difficult conversations.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I have over 20 years’ experience in Early Childhood Education, including staff development, management, and administration of Early Childhood programs. I have managed education component for programs, planned, budgeted, set priorities, created policies and procedures while working as part of senior management team to meet federal and state grant requirements while meeting organizational objectives. I have a proven ability for ensuring quality of implementation of Early Childhood Education programs. I have an excellent focus on utilizing staff to drive continuous quality improvement and meet professional development objectives.
My degrees include a Bachelor of Science Degree from Rochester College in Early Childhood Education, a Master of Science Degree in Early Childhood Studies with a concentration in Administration, Management and Leadership, an Education Specialist degree in Early Childhood and a Doctorate of Education degree specializing in Early Childhood from Walden University.
I am a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC), National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), HighScope and the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP).