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    2020 School Board Candidates

    Memphis Community Schools

October 9, 2020

Susan Durst

Pronouns: she/her
School District: Memphis Community Schools
City: Richmond Twp

How long have you lived in your district?

25 yrs in Richmond Twp. 3 years in Memphis School District

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I believe add a clear perspective and value to the BOE.

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

Providing education/curriculum for all students by acknowledging and valuing them as individuals for who they are , where they come from (culture , communities , and families).

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

Schools would provide opportunities for every student to excel to their fullest potential.

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

Provide various means of two way communication with response to all concerns/comments.

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

none

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

Engage , Educate , and Empower

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

Provide , Implement and Develop

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?

Financial challenges , ( personnel , equipment , supplies). Schools must meet or exceed all mandates.

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

Safety , Education

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

Educational justice

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?

Add “life skills” , introduce careers/professions to non-college bound students (internships , etc.)

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

Support with in parameters. Use of community/professional resource recommendations.

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

Student discipline dependent on infraction with handled with consistency and safety for students/staff a priority.

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

Assisting in developing each student to their fullest potential.

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

Agree , wholeheartedly , Multiple approaches. A work in process.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Some questions are non-specific and can be answered many different ways

October 4, 2020

Martin Cook

Pronouns:Martin Cook is my name
School DistrictMemphis Community Schools
City:Memphis

How long have you lived in your district?

30 years

Have you received any endorsements?

n/a

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

My goal in joining the school board two years ago and for another term is to help our school system grow by reversing the enrollment loss to neighboring districts by offering new and unique offerings to give our students options for career choices. While our counties tech program offers some great opportunities, too many students are left out because of class size limitations. We must offer more not less to our students.

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

Educational justice in the Memphis Schools should mean hat every student has the same opportunities to learn in the method that suits them so that we do not graduate students into the world lacking in the knowledge they need to succeed in whatever path they take.

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

Schools should look like the rest of the world after the current crisis is over. Our attention to cleanliness and sanitation while magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic should not be the reason we focus on these standards. There are far more dangerous health issues that will be minimized by proper standards education and enforcement.

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

We should take a page from the LEAN process used in manufacturing as well as other business. An example of this would be the theory that “the person who sweeps the floor should choose the broom”. Administration should be there to set overall goals and structure, those actively educating our students including the parents, students and families should “choose the broom”. As an example several years ago a teacher proposed a book titled “Shades of Grey” by Jasper Fforde. This book is a dystopian novel that takes place in Chromatacia an alternate version of the UK wherein social class is determined by ones ability to perceive color. The administration refused to allow the book because ” this is a small town and people will think it is the sexual book 50 shades of grey”. One student bought the book anyway and has communicated to the author over the years and has used her learnings about the commonalities of that novel to what is happening in todays world in her university studies. The administration needed to let that teacher “choose the broom” in that situation.

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

n/a

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

Retaining students through their K-12 experience, providing more educational offerings to give real world learning to our children, providing a safe and inclusive environment for all students

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

Funding for growth not maintaining the status quo, removing politics from schools and school decisions, more emphasis on needed technical education

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?

Memphis Schools covid plan is working just fine. I would not change anything.

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: Teachers salary and benefits, investing in technical education in district, physical plant upgrades
Bottom priorities: Administration pay

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

Standardized tests are A tool not THE tool for measuring progress. We must recognize that and adjust our thinking.

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?

Our curriculum must be updated to include more technical opportunities and real world learning. How do we graduate seniors that cannot fill out a basic tax form or understand how to manage their credit? These are important life skills that must be taught.

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

The school district should monitor these things and work with the parents of students and the staff members who need assistance. The school system should not be the primary caregiver or responsible party.

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

Policies should be followed as they are written. All students and staff should be held to the same standard. When some students or staff are not held accountable and others are it creates an environment that does not support a positive learning or working environment.

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

Special Education is near and dear to my heart as I had a relative that was in special education many years ago. Our special education students deserve the same educational opportunities as others.

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

Equity can only be achieved when we provide the individual student with what they need to be successful. This may not be equal to what is provided for others. equality should not be confused with equity. Students have different needs and this must be part of how we determine what support is given.

Any other information you want to include or share?

My approach is blunt and I have never been accused of being “politically correct”. You never have to wonder where you stand with me as a school board member. I will ask the tough questions and demand the truth no matter how inconvenient. I am beholden to no group or organization, my children graduated and are both attending university. I abhor the “good old boys” of small town politics and administration. My sole agenda is to provide the best Student and staff environment for learning and success.

October 4, 2020

Nancy Thomson

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictMemphis Community Schools
City:Memphis

How long have you lived in your district?

35 years

Have you received any endorsements?

no, not at this time

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

Having retired from Memphis Community Schools where I served as a teacher, principal, superintendent and parent I feel that I can provide valuable insight to meet the needs of students, parents, staff and community throughout the educational process.

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

School justice means to me that all students have access to the curriculum, with necessary support and materials to meet educational benchmarks. It also means that all staff and students feel safe, supportive and successful when they commit to learning. As a result of recent school closings and necessary learning options I feel major adjustments will need to be made to help all students meet required standards and benchmarks.

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

I would like to see the increase use of technology to connect students, teachers and parents to learning opportunities to continue. I feel that students have also been able to set the pace of their learning program, allowing some to advance at a faster pace than others and would like to see these options continue.

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

I believe that parents are the best advocate for their children and need to be involved in their child’s education in a meaningful way. I feel that parents and students should have a voice to give their input into educational opportunities, strengths and weaknesses that the Board and administration can use when setting policies and programs for the district.

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

N/A

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

Curriculum, courses, and learning opportunities
Safe and healthy environment for learning
Meeting the needs of all students to promote success

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

Funding
Curriculum decisions and regulations
Early childhood programs for all three and four year olds

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?

Due to COVID I feel the district will have the challenge to keep buildings clean, sanitized and following state mandates for student to return. I also feel they will be challenged to make sure all in person and online learners are receiving the same access to curriculum and materials. I feel teachers and other staff will need to feel supported and have their needs met to make them feel protected at school.

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 cleaning, instructional staff, food service for all students, technology and teaching resources
Continued schedules for repair, replacement and upkeep on district buildings, transportation and equipment should be maintained if possible to prevent a huge financial burden in the future.
I feel cuts should be made as far away from students and learning as possible.

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

Standardized tests should be used to assist in student instructional level placement, academic achievement levels and to demonstrate progress being made on an individual level at this time. Every district will face learning gaps due to recent stoppage of in person learning as they have not all had equal access to learning for many months. I do not feel testing should be used to compare districts at this time.

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?

The districts curriculum is a living document. Most changes, revisions and adoptions are made based on state level recommendations or requirements. I would continue to let the curriculum committee in place use the most up to date information from the state and local regional agencies take the lead.

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

I feel that the district must provide the necessary support for staff, students and parents to access necessary mental health support. The district must continue to work with outside agencies to make these services available to all.

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

I feel that discipline procedures should be clear cut with expectations for student behavior and consequences for not keeping to these standards. All students and staff must feel safe in the learning environment in order to be successful in reaching their goals.

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

Identification of students that may need additional support
Providing the necessary supports to students
Providing the necessary resources to teachers to assist the learning process for all students
Follow all state and federal guidelines and regulations

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

Memphis only has one building per grade level span elementary, junior high and high school. I would want them to continue to work on making sure that all grade level classrooms are teaching to the same standards, and junior high and high school courses have the same course expectations when taught by different teachers. I also feel assessment of subject material needs to be standardized for all subjects and levels.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.