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    2020 School Board Candidates

    Wayne-Westland Community School District

October 14, 2020

Sheree Conn

Pronouns: she/her
School District:Wayne-Westland Community School District
City: Westland

How long have you lived in your district?

40 + years, off and on.

Have you received any endorsements?

I’ve received endorsements from the following: William Wild, Mayor of Westland Jim Hart, President Westland City Council Mike Londeau, President Pro Temp Westland City Council Tasha Green, Councilwoman Westland City Council Andrea Rutkowski, Councilwoman City of Westland Mike McDermott, Councilman City of Westland Kevin Coleman, State Representative

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to become a school board member because students in Wayne/Westland deserve a world-class education. As our world rapidly changes, so too must our schools change for the betterment of our children. Better academic programs and greater enrichment opportunities are needed in order to meet the unique needs of our young learners.

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

Education justice means equal access to quality education for all students. For the Wayne/Westland School District, this involves schools and communities working together to ensure we identify and retain qualified teachers that can provide quality instruction. This includes securing the educational resources necessary to see that our kids have every tool available to help them graduate high school ready for college or a career.

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

Reimagining the way schools look includes a blend of real-life and online learning. Bringing more educational technology into schooling, kids spending more of their time learning time on screens, with programs individualized for each student so that we can meet them where they are.
Learning would occur at school, at home, in the community, and beyond.

Reopening schools need to take precautionary steps to keep students, teachers, and staff safe that include:
-Efficient ventilation systems
-More open spaces
-Reducing classroom sizes
-Increase bus routes so buses aren’t as full and require children that ride the bus to sit in a zigzag pattern
-Staying home if feeling ill, or who has been near someone with COVID-19
-In lieu of cafeteria lines, require that children eat in their classrooms with lunch brought from home or a boxed lunch provided by the school.
-Maintaining proper hand washing/respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes with elbow crease)
-Maintaining and providing adequate supplies such as disinfectant cleaners, hand soaps, and hand sanitizers
-Posting signs in highly visible locations that promote health safety measures

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

To educate parents about what is happening in the school, schools can sponsor family nights which focus on different education topics. So too, can we ask involved parents to contribute to the school blog or newsletter as a means to engage and increase parent involvement. Lastly, we can get families involved through online surveys. Google Forms and SurveyMonkeys are easy to create and distribute to parents via email, social media, and the school website.

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

I do not have top financial supporters.

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

1) Ensure students are outfitted with the resources needed to excel whether they’re learning in class, or learning remotely.

2) We can neither attract nor retain the best educators if they don’t feel 100% supported; we need to encourage teacher retention by creating and establishing clear pathways for teacher leadership, growth, and promotion.

3) Improve board communication and establish a culture of transparency and accountability.

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

We’ve got to think critically about the communities in which we live and work, identifying what’s important to the residents in our district. We need to take into consideration their backgrounds because representation matters, and embedding these values within our kids’ education is crucial to getting them engaged.

Funding should help attract highly qualified teachers, improve curriculum, and support additional programs that will have the greatest impact on our entire student population. My goal is to ensure funding supports the resources, programs, and services that our students need to be prepared to fully participate in the workforce and their community.

Emphasize workforce development, career & technical education (CTE) As an alternative to the traditional four-year degree, trade and technical schools offer specific vocational training for a wide variety of skilled careers with most requiring two years or less of training. We have an opportunity to address a skilled labor shortage, with hundreds of thousands of available jobs going unfilled because workers lack the necessary training.

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 protection of our children may be tougher to safeguard; in addition to processes in place to limit access to children at school, we must also ensure that bad individuals aren’t getting to our remote learners.

Along with face coverings and physical distancing, we can address COVID risks by having teachers move between classrooms, rather than having students fill the hallways between periods. Let’s allow kids to eat at their desks, or outside rather than in crowded lunchrooms.

Educators may begin to feel overwhelmed; but herein lies the opportunity to show them more appreciation, backing, and support as they play such a vital and irreplaceable role in these trying times.

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

Our top spending priority should be to address the resource inequities that have been quickly exposed through the emergency move to virtual education during this pandemic.
-We need to address massive food insecurities among children and families.
-Investing in technology equity as a component of emergency preparedness.

Increasing teachers’ salaries to commensurate with their added responsibilities (as a result of Covid-19). Our children additionally require sound, clean facilities; however, this doesn’t mean they need to be the most expensive–wise and conservative spending is paramount.

What should not be our district’s priority is transportation due to our busses being used less. By redirecting funding to projects that both need to be done and have a higher priority due to COVID, projects that were promised to the voters through the bond approval can still be delivered but at different timing.

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

When done right, standardized tests can be great tools for learning and making sure everyone is on track. Without a clear objective however, they can take invaluable time away from actually teaching and developing our youth. Smart and calculated tests enable us to measure the progress of our children, so long as it’s conducted in moderation.

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?

Increasing transparency around what’s taught in our district’s schools including the curriculum selection process can help incentivize our district to make well-informed choices. In addition, we’ve got to better engage our teachers, supporting them in implementing new curricula, while providing them with the tools to collaborate meaningfully with one another as they familiarize themselves with new materials. Furthermore, professional preparation to help these teachers deal with diverse learning styles and disparate needs is crucial. I would like to see a more inclusive curriculum that is culturally relevant creating socially-just learners and a curriculum that meets students where they are. Ongoing professional development on effective instructional practices needs to be commonplace in our public schools.

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

Mentally healthy kids are more successful both in school, and in life. Schools are an ideal setting to provide mental health services to our youth and our educators. Students are more likely to take advantage of counseling when it’s made available in schools. So too, are mental health services vital in order to improve physical and psychological safety, as well as academic performance and problem-solving abilities.

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

I believe the district should reimagine discipline based on love and care for our young learners.

As a child, I had the good fortune of having authority figures who cared more about nurturing our spirits as young people than about criminalizing our behavior. It is time to get serious about real alternatives that get to the heart of what our students REALLY need.

-We should reallocate funds for SSOs to hire qualified mental health professionals.
-We need more counselors than cops. We need to break the school-to-prison pipeline, and it is only through the mediation of the deeper issues students deal with that this can be done.

A more holistic approach to restorative discipline can aid in fostering belonging rather than exclusion, and meaningful accountability over punishment. Students would have a strong sense of belonging rather than being at risk.

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

Our district should be heavily invested in instruction time, including 1:1s and small group instruction. We’ve got to provide consistent schedules that support young learners in developing productive routines. We must also invest in parental support, engaging parents more so we can better understand the moderate and severe needs of our kids.

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

We’ve got to ensure that students of all backgrounds come into equitable instruction by acknowledging students’ cultural heritage. Recognizing and implementing multiple perspectives into instruction helps students feel comfortable in their classroom environment, thereby enhancing learning for all of our young learners.

An important part of promoting equity means promoting inclusion and openness. This entails being respectful to each other, sharing ideas, opinions, and values. We must teach students self-awareness, how to disagree respectfully, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Furthermore, we can Invite parents into classrooms, showing students various representations of their culture and other cultures. We can bring people in from the community as guest speakers to share insights on current classroom topics. We can invite persons with physical or learning disabilities to talk about their unique experiences all in an attempt to establish respectful ways for students to have diverse experiences–thus better preparing them for life outside of the classroom.
We can improve equity by diversifying our school staff. Teachers serve as role models for students, providing them with real-life examples they might not otherwise be privy to. Community partners can also assist in making sure students are being equitably supported. Furthermore, we can implement culturally relevant teaching practices to aid in keeping our young learners cognizant of what’s happening in our world today.

Any other information you want to include or share?

The reason I’m running is to ensure that EVERY child in the Wayne/Westland School District is provided the chance to receive a high quality public school education. I’m committed to collaborating with our community to make every school across our district great, thereby giving our children a great chance at making the most of their lives.

October 9, 2020

Angela Jackson-Irvine

Pronouns: she/her
School District: Wayne-Westland Community School District
City: Westland

How long have you lived in your district?

44 years

Have you received any endorsements?

None

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I know that the WW school district has great leaders in their staff and I believe we have the potential to work on restoring our district to what it was not that long ago. I have grown up in the district and I still choose to live in this district because I find the people who are invested in our children’s education to be kind , caring individuals. I am a mom , educator , an involved member of the community and I want to help the district rise up again. I don’t have a political agenda and I’m not looking to run for another office , I just want to help.

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

Education justice is having staff that are highly qualified dispersed across the district so that all students are given equal opportunity to learn and grow from instruction. Restorative justice practices are also a part of education justice and I believe that Wayne-Westland needs to provide the resources that allow the students to be productive members of society and help all student make necessary changes to become successful adults.

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

During these forced times of change I believe we have discovered new and imaginative ways to reach students. There are students who are more successful using online learning and it may be necessary that we look at providing an opportunity for these students to continue there virtual learning experience. Smaller class sizes would be a part of the reimagined plan so that the teacher could be allowed more time to reach all students and a greater number of small group activities could occur. I want all buildings to be looked at as an inviting environment and a place that students find comfort in knowing they are cared for.

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

The members of the community should definitely be included in decisions making. We need to work for continuous improvement with communication and keeping the families involved in what is happening in their children’s schools. The public should be aware of our successes and challenges and have an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns.

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

I do not have any top financial supporters , unless of course , I include my supportive husband!

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

1) I want to see our students stand up and be proud that they are from our community. They should be strong competitors for college entry , scholarships upon graduation and be able to display their strengths as well educated people.
2) I would like to see continued support in college prep courses as well as programs for those who are not necessarily college bound and would thrive from hands on technical education classes.
3) I want to see all students provided with the necessary tools that will help them succeed regardless of their economic status , ethnicity , gender biases , etc.

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

1) Equitable funding for all schools
2) Discussion of standardized testing
3) Evaluation of special education and the support opportunities that are provided.

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?

There are many challenges in regards to COVID and this school year. Safety of students and staff must be a top priority. Proper social distancing , plans for cleaning protocols , scheduling of students , smaller classes created and much more have to be carefully planned out and evaluated before considering the return to school. I stand by the fact that the answers need to be thought out before the questions can even be asked and then we are ready to return to school.

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

As times have changed , this years spending should be directly focused on the return to school and providing safety measures for students and staff. Purchasing of cleaners , masks , plexiglass dividers , technology and more will be necessary to get our students back in class. Prioritizing other items such as curriculum development , staffing salaries , transportation are also important items. The budget should always be reevaluated and changes should be made according to necessity.

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

Standardized testing is not a fair measurement of every students ability. I would like to see changes made at the state level that would lesson the amount of testing that takes place.

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 believe a deeper dive into what is currently being offered in the districts curriculum is necessary. Looking over what is missing and giving the teacher’s opportunities to work together to create competitive opportunities is important. The Vocational programs should certainly continue and build to bring in students who may be looking for a path to a future career.

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

It is necessary to offer support to both students and staff in regards to mental and emotional health. There needs to be a safe place for student to go and talk or discuss social/emotional issues , such as a counselor or other support staff. Providing the resources for both students and staff and making sure that they are aware of what is available to them is very important.

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

Clear expectations need to be set and the guidelines need to be followed. Restorative practice promotes relationship building , conflict resolution and problem solving tactics but it is important that proper training is done for this to be successful.

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

A top priorities in special education is that the students are receiving the necessary accommodations to help them be successful. Support staff for these students is a must and training for all staff in meeting the needs of the students is important.

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

I want to work toward equity in funding from the state as well as equitable education for all students in regards to opportunities available , fairness and achievement.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I believe it is a responsibility of the board to check in and find out what is going on in the schools. We need to be informed and be present wherever possible. I would love for everyone who sends their children to Wayne-Westland Schools to find as much satisfaction in their child’s educational experiences as I did! With that being said , I hope that those I will represent as a member of the school board would know that I also have only the best intentions in seeing that the district grow and flourish as they once did , and that people are again proud to say that they have kids in the Wayne-Westland Schools.

October 6, 2020

Melandie Hines

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictWayne-Westland Community School District
City:Westland

How long have you lived in your district?

39 years

Have you received any endorsements?

13th Congressional District Democratic Party State Board of Education Tiffany Tilley State Representative Kevin Coleman State Representative Jewell Jones City of Westland Mayor William Wild Wayne County Commissioner Glen Anderson Dearborn City Council Lisa Hicks Clayton Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus Westland Democratic Club Canton Public School Board Katie Borniski Westland Public Library Board Gayle Nicholson Westland City Council Mike Loundo Westland City Council Mike McDermott, State Representative Cynthia A Johnson

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I am a current Wayne Westland School Board Member. I have served on the school board for 6 years. I was a student in the school district and I have a son in high school. I am passionate about making sure that students have various career opportunities and my platform is the Portrait of a Graduate to make sure students are career ready, college ready and life ready.

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

I want to make sure that there is equity in education and we must stop the school pipeline to prison epidemic. We must make sure that we provide our children resources to give every student has the opportunity to become successful and not succumb to the digital divide.

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

It would be 21st Century learning. To cut down classroom sizes we should have the teachers teach in the classroom, half of the students should be in the class and the other half who prefer to learn online can zoom at home. It will help to end snow days, helpful for children who have medical disabilities and miss a lot of school, which would allow them to not miss a learning opportunity.

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

We currently have a lot of surveys for the community, staff and student focus groups. Parent involvement is very important when it comes to important decisions that pertain to the students.

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

Mayor William Wild, State Representative Jewell Jones, State Representative Kevin Coleman, City Councilman Mike McDermott,

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

More educational programs like UpWard Bound, Champions, Bright Futures, Leader In Me and college prep program.

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

Funding, literacy, and an overhaul in the common core and math and ELA courses.

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?

Lack of funding. We will loose a lot of money from business taxes with business being shut down. We also have to watch the covid-19 numbers. We are made up of 6 communities; Wayne, Westland, Inkster, Romulus, Dearborn Heights, and Romulus and we must constantly monitor the outbreaks. We are doing a great job with virtual learning, work to get to the hybrid model and eventually face to face when safe.

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

Curriculum, Technology, Transportation, Salaries and Benefits, Buildings and Grounds. Everything must be carefully measured in a school budget.

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

We need to help students with stamina and rigor. We need to help students with test prep especially when it comes to M-Step, ACT, PSAT SAT.

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?

Wayne Westland has not had curriculum in 6 years and we just passed new curriculum for all of the students and purchased chrome books for every student in the district.

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

Social and Emotional learning is very important with this pandemic. We must do health checks to make sure that we have telehealth to make sure that the students are able to speak to counselors to deal with the emotional hardships the students are going through.

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

We practice restorative practices. We had a team of Climate and Culture Coaches that were trained and able to deal with the change in culture, understood how to handle children that were impacted by trauma. We found alternative ways to handle disciplinary issues with and participated in the Positive Behavior Support and reward good behavior. At one on the schools they practice yoga and meditation.

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

Getting more money from Wayne County RESA to help fund our special education. We have one of the highest numbers of IEP’s in the county. We also need to make sure that we have the proper training and Director of our Special Ed Department needs to ensure that the federal guidelines are being adhered to. We have a school Roosevelt Magrath in Wayne where we have students that are in special education work with other students in the school to teach them compassion and empathy and learn to work together.

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

We need proper funding. Wayne Westland is already $2,000 negative per pupil funding. We need to fill in the gap. I have a great relationship with the Governor, Senators and State Representatives and is able to help fight to get more money in the classroom.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I sit on the Executive Board for the 13th Congressional District, Co-Chair of the Western Wayne County Black Caucus, Election Chair for the City of Westland, Precinct Delegate for the City of Westland for Precinct #39, Previous President of the Greater Westland Area of the Kiwanis Club, Top Lady of Distinction, Top Teen Advisor, National Association of African Americans in Human Resources, Michigan Association of School Boards, Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority, Member of the Westland Chamber of Commerce, NAACP, 2018 Believe in Bond Committee, and Praise Dancer at New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne.

October 6, 2020

John F. Albrecht

Pronouns:he/him
School District:Wayne-Westland Community School District
City:Westland

How long have you lived in your district?

40+ years

Have you received any endorsements?

State Representative Kevin Coleman; City Councilman James Godbout, School Board President David Cox

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to give back to the community school district for which I was employed for over 20 years. I understand the value of a successful public school system to viable communities. Finally, my unique educational experience as an assistant superintendent for educational services provides a valuable resource to other trustees and the superintendent.

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

First I consider a formal education a key component of the overall growth of children into adults that enables them to contribute to a society as a whole. Our school district is somewhat unique in that we also have a career and technical education center that provides training to students for career choices. Our district is significantly diverse. Our children attend school every day with children from diverse backgrounds that helps them to learn about and understand people from different cultures and backgrounds.

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

It might be time to disrupt the system. First, I want to make it clear that classroom teachers and support staff that interact with children each day will always be part of how I think. But, having said that, curriculum and assessment should be available in adaptive software that allows students to learn as they progress. I use this example to better explain what I mean: when a person attempts to buy theater tickets online utilizing purchasing software, it usually requires the user to enter an email twice with the second entry to verify the first. If a mistake is made and the two do not match, the software alerts the user to make a correction. IT DOES NOT BAR THE USER FROM PURCHASING TICKETS. So adaptive software would do the same. So, instead of failing a one-time assessment, a student is allowed to make corrections to errors in real time. Hence, standards-based grading, and ‘casual’ advancement through curriculum becomes the norm.

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

I want to start with students. Data must be collected and compiled for younger students unable to provide specifics to survey attempts. Older children can be asked to provide survey answers to specific questions. All of the student data should be compiled and be considered as most significant. Families should be surveyed as well. Often children have shared information with parents or guardians that they would be reluctant to share with the adults around school. In any case, children should drive decision making activity.

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

There were several community members who contributed similarly. Between $50 and $150 contributions were the norm.

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

Personalized learning (accompanying assessment tools that measure growth), developing educational expectations and appropriate interventions for individuals (the IEP for every learner), increase the integration of technology as learning resources.

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

It is imperative that funding become equitable for all districts; minimize the effect of standardized test scores on the evaluation of educators; provide stronger oversight and interventions for students with disabilities.

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?

At this point, families and teachers are just finding solutions to distance learning. Rather that put some modification/hybrid plan in place for a time, keep things the same until schools are ready to return everyone to full-time status.

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

Continue to evaluate and upgrade students’ ability to utilize technological advances in the learning. also, begin to develop entire curriculum resources utilizing open source materials. Stop spending major dollars on prepackaged, hard-cover resources and consumables.

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

I believe in them as a tool to be used to find gaps in curriculum sources. It would be highly beneficial if standardized assessments were utilized as formative assessments initiated on personal devices. In this way, not only will we know that students have learned, but also how successful they are testing digitally.

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?

American history must be completely redeveloped. What I mean is that we should have history for all integrated throughout the course. There should be no need for Black History Month or anything similar.

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

Too often students come to school with significant shortages of things that 40-50 years ago would have been provided by family and community. Knowing that these sources are not as strong as in the past, we have to first be aware of these shortages for individual students and then be prepared to meet the needs or connect them with the necessary resources to meet those needs.

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

I am a firm believer in establishing a culture of expectations for all. This requires great effort in making certain that everyone, including community stakeholders, are fully informed of the expectations. Having said that, in order for any plan to work, every member of the educational team-teachers, administrators, support staff, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, clerical workers, and central office staff will enforce the expectations. And everyone will do this regardless of calendar or clock. I firmly believe that this tenet is why any attempt of any kind to manage behavior fails. When done correctly, it really does not matter what the consequence/intervention a district chooses. But certainly, restorative justice can work when the need for intervention is managed by expectations.

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

First, require that every IEP reflects the real need of each student. Compile data as to what those needs are, and then work on staffing to meet those needs. One would think that this already occurs. But the shortage of staff has caused districts to submit IEP’s that contain needs that staffing can meet.

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

I will refer back to my answers reflecting a need to personalize and adapt learning to individual students. I believe that this is the only way to better develop relationships between teachers and their students. Having said that, equity happens as each student experiences success as a result of working closely with his/her teacher.

Any other information you want to include or share?

This is my community. It was my place of employment. Finally, we do research on education as though the system we know is working for all students, and apply that research to the same system. What would it look like if instead, we used the research to disrupt the system?

October 4, 2020

Gayle Nicholson

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictWayne-Westland Community School District
City:Clio

How long have you lived in your district?

18.5 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Kevin Coleman State Representative; Jewell Jones, State Representative; Al Haidous, Wayne County Commissioner; Glenn Anderson, Wayne County Commissioner; William R. Wild, Mayor of Westland; Charles Pickering, Past Mayor of Westland; Dan Paletko, Mayor of Dearborn Heights; Leroy Burcroff, Mayor of Romulus; James Hart, Westland Council President; Mike McDermott, Westland City Council; James Godbout, Westland City Council; Peter Herzberg, Westland City Council; Andrea Rutkowski, Westland City Council; Bill Wadsworth, Romulus City Council; Tony Miller, Wayne City Council; Steven Chisholm, Inkster City Council; Westland Democratic Club;

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

The call to service has always been strong with me, so in this time when schools are struggling so much, between the problems of education in the time of COVID-19 and the constant struggle with finances. I have been a teacher, a teacher of teachers, and a parent, but I also have been working in the business community. This combination makes me ideal for school board.

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

It means that every student has equal access to education, regardless of background, financial means, or geography. For our district, it means making sure that ALL students have what they need to succeed, especially in this time of Covid-19 where having technology is critical to the ability to access schooling. It is also a challenge as not all students have parents that can help or even be at home for them during the school day.

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

I want to see us use what we’ve learned during this crisis to enhance how we handle education after the crisis is over. We’ve learned that there are more ways to learn than just in-person instruction, and we need to continue to take advantage of what we’ve learned. While teaching at NMSU-C in 2001 I was fortunate to be able to teach via ITV, which provided my students the ability to have an in-house teacher, supplemented by instruction that linked us via Interactive TV with multiple other branches of the University system. It was great!

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

They must be a pivotal part! Education is a team effort, and parents are a critical part of the team!

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

My campaign has been all grass-roots funded.

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

1) Providing instruction that includes both the college bound student and the student who selects a non-college path. 2) Making sure all students have equal access to the tools & support to facilitate their education. 3)

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

1) Making sure that state financing is equitable, that a student doesn’t need to live in a rich district to have the educational funding required. 2) Making sure Special Education services are also handled equitably. 3) Having a voice with the state as to mandatory requirements.

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 taught Science. We need to have all decisions be fact-based. I’m more likely to err on the side of caution, rather than risk the health of precious students and teachers. I know I may meet with resistance.

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

I will always be a student & teacher advocate. I will always be an advocate for SMET, but I know that there must be a balance. Students are unique, one size does NOT fit all.

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

Only a portion. One of the most fascinating things I learned while teaching was the way all students learn in such different ways. Standardized tests are good evaluation for only certain learners.

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 will also be an advocate for SMET, but I do feel I need to be part of a team and evaluate curriculum needs after getting input from all sources.

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

The school district has a portion of the responsibility for these things, but it can’t be just the school’s responsibility. We must monitor, observe, report on what we see, but parents and the community must also play a part.

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

Make sure school policies are clear to all participants. Involve parents. Involve teachers in establishing the policies.

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

My stepson is autistic, now in his 30s, who received services through Wayne-Westland School District. The best thing that I would like to encourage is help for the parents of these students. This is often a confusing process.

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

The challenge is always to identify those who may be falling behind and getting them the appropriate resources. This will involve diligence by teachers, and the district providing resources to make a change.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I have been involved in education for most of my life, starting as a substitute teacher for Wayne-Westland & Livonia Schools in 1977, and went on to teach and participate in education for many more years at New Mexico State University – Carlsbad. After moving back to Michigan in 2001, I entered the corporate world as a Customer Service Manager, and later as General Manager of a company that does marketing, graphic design, and publishes two local community publications. The company also organizes and promotes two major community events: Cruisin’ Hines and All American Wayne Road Cruise. I am also the current Vice President of the Westland Library Board.

October 4, 2020

Kimberly R May

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictWayne-Westland Community School District
City:Westland

How long have you lived in your district?

20 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Yes, Councilwoman Tasha Green, Pastor Edward Pruett (A Better Westland), Richard & Lisa Graham (Move Westland Forward)

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I desire to become a school board member to be a part of a solution to enhance Wayne-Westland Community Schools. As a parent in the district, an educator, and an advocate for children; I believe I have a responsibility to give back to the community in which I reside. It is time to move our district forward! My 24 years of experience in education, serving as a classroom teacher, a building principal, and now a central office administrator has afforded me the knowledge and experience to be an excellent candidate for the school board.

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

When I hear education justice, I think of restorative practices. Restorative practices encompasses repairing the harm and both parties learning from the incident. It is less punitive and more about correction and teaching. I also think of equality versus equal. In the context of Wayne-Westland Community Schools it means ensuring ALL means ALL. It means engaging in restorative practices versus suspensions in response to behaviors. It also means providing equitable support.

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

If I could completely reimagine schools, they would appear welcoming with hand sanitizing stations throughout. Students would have their own items, we would not share. Class sizes would be smaller and students would be happy because of the amount of attention they would be able to receive from teachers. Small group instruction would exist and students would attend classes in rotation to keep the class sizes small. In order to achieve this we would have to hire more teachers and support staff. Students would receive social emotional learning instruction with an anti-racist lens.

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

Most definitely, parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions through study sessions and surveys. Oftentimes, the community isn’t aware how decisions are made and this leads to confusion and frustration. If the community of stakeholders are involved in the process with the understanding of who makes the final decision up front, I believe that helps to eliminate dissension and frustration.

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

I do not have top financial supporters.

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

My top three educational priorities/goals with my district are as followed: 1) Working to create a high functioning team of 8; board members plus the superintendent. 2) Ensuring all of our students and families have what they need to be successfully educated in a remote environment. 3) Increasing our graduation rate.

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

My top three educational priorities at a state level are as followed: 1) Equitable funding across the state for school districts that includes the unique needs of students with IEPs, English Learners, and students prevailing through difficult circumstances (also known as at-risk). 2) Appropriate financial support and guidance for schools navigating education during a pandemic. 3) Defining a true purpose of standardized testing which hopefully, leads to less testing.

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 anticipate the challenge of meeting the call to bring students and staff back to school quickly and safely. School districts must ensure physical distancing is possible and that it occurs. School districts must train staff on appropriate protocols including the use of PPE, physical distancing and unteaching what we’ve always taught children about sharing and group work and re-teaching how we interact in the age of COVID. School districts always must train staff on meeting the social-emotional needs of students and colleagues.

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

Under the current circumstances, the top spending priority should be meeting the needs to bring students back to school safely, training of staff, technology, and PPE. Alternatively, this year, the district should not focus on new curriculum purchases or adoptions as teachers are not in place to learn new curriculum. Districts should focus on supporting teachers and staff regarding working in a pandemic, not adding to their work loads.

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

I do not think standardized tests should play the major role they play in school districts, unfortunately they are federal and state mandates. In my opinion, too much is placed on high stakes testing and the information gathered in most cases, are not a true reflection of the students taking the assessments.

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 encourage the superintendent to hire a consulting firm to complete an equity audit of the current curriculum resources. An equity audit would identify the relevancy, engagement, and cultural responsiveness of the curriculum resources amongst other things. The district should then use the results to adjust the curriculum resources according to the findings.

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

School districts have a major role in supporting the mental and emotional health/well being of both students and staff. Social emotional learning from an antiracist lens should be a part of daily instruction. Prior to the pandemic, students and staff were dealing with social justice issues along with daily life and if schools do not carve out space for students and staff to talk the emotions only build which leads to behavioral outbursts and disconnected students and staff.

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

I believe all school districts should employ Restorative Practices. Restorative Practices is a framework to minimize the School to Prison pipeline. Students are not only taught to repair harm but they also learn how to respond to conflict appropriately. Furthermore, teaching students how to respond to conflict will reduce the suspension rate which impacts student achievement. Restorative Practices can also be used with students and staff, parents and staff, and staff to address conflict.

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

My top priorities around special education in my district is ensuring students are placed in the least restrictive environment and that students are assessed appropriately to decrease the overidentification of African American male students. I will do this by working with the superintendent to ensure staff are properly trained in Special Education Laws and Implicit Bias. Also, I will work to ensure all staff are trained and utilize a variety of teaching methods to reach ALL children.

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

It is imperative that my district and all school districts work toward achieving equity. This can be achieved through professional learning and support on topics such as implicit bias, micro-aggressions, differentiating instruction, and culturally responsive teaching to name a few after an equity audit of the district is complete. School districts have to define equity and ensure that all staff understands that equity is not just black and white. Equity is inclusive of socio-economics, language, cultural, race, and gender.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I am a committed, child centered, compassionate candidate. I began my career as an educator in 1996 and worked diligently to improve my craft because I am committed to provide the best educational environment for children. I am a lifelong learner. Every decision I make is based upon how the outcome will impact children. I will always advocate for ALL children including those who are often misunderstood.