October 4, 2020
School DistrictJackson Public Schools
How long have you lived in your district?
41 years, my entire life.
Have you received any endorsements?
IBEW Local 252, Huron Valley Area Labor Federation MI AFL-CIO, Erin White (Current School Board President ), Libby Brown (Current School Board Treasurer), John Willis(Chief Equity Office City of Jackson, MI) , Edwin Payne( Clinical Director for Jackson Counseling for Wellbeing), Geremy Burns (Former Jackson County Youth Center Director), Tuwann Worthey (Current Assistant Director Jackson County Youth Center) Chuck Baker (Current Director Jackson County Youth Center), Darlene Leonard (Mentor), Pastor Josh Gelatt, Derek Dobies (Mayor of City of Jackson), Dr. Bob Powell( Chief Executive Officer Family Services and Children’s Aid), Rev. Jeffrey A. Lang, Sarah Allison (Health Educator), Sheri Butters (Network Manager with the Jackson Collaborative Network), Teresa Hawkins (Former Jackson County Youth Center Director) George Lyons (Attorney at Law) Marsena Tyronce (Henry Ford Health Systems ER Technician), Kellie Gilbert (Former Union President of United Steelworkers Local 711A), Martha York (Community Education Coordinator)
Are you an incumbent?
Why do you want to be a school board member?
My desire to become a school board trustee is dimensional and deeply rooted in my in my commitment to serve others.
-As a parent I have an obligation to ensure that my children are equipped with the resources to achieve a quality education.
-As a youth advocate I have a personal conviction to be the voice for the voiceless and marginalized populations.
-As a community activist I have a responsibility to be the catalyst for change!
I will emphasize the importance to authentically engage with families to build trusting relationships, and identify their barriers to achieving success.
What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?
Education justice is when we accept students for who they are and where they come from.
As it relates to our school district, we must acknowledge that students come to the classroom settings with prior knowledge that has been centered around their culturally relevant understandings of the world.
As educators and leaders we must embrace what students already know and find innovative ways to implement their knowledge into the curriculum so that it becomes relatable.
If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?
-Provide an education system that is inclusive with distant learning; one in which distant learning will offer a more individualized role for students, address behavioral management, and prioritize parental involvement.
-An education system that takes the voices of students, and create spaces for them to engage in dialogues that will identify how students can thrive as their most authentic selves, within their schools, feeling safe and supported.
Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?
-Encourage participation in scheduled school board meetings
-Empower parents, students, and families to openly voice their opinions/concerns.
-Provide round table forums with parents and students in the community.
-Utilize social media platforms to educate the community how schools handle things, and openly identify their roles.
-Encourage frequent phone contacts between teachers and parents on behalf of students to provide updates on what is transpiring within the classroom setting.
Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?
Multiple donations from family, friends, and community members
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
Increase literacy and math scores
Expand diversity education so that it is reflected in policies and procedures /everyday practices.
Ensure that all students are prepared and ready for college, career readiness, military and/or entrepreneurship.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?
-Ensure that we have educators that are equipped and supported to teach(increased pay/more incentives)
-Identify how to close the achievement gaps and focus more on economically challenged areas/populations
-Transparency with the State budget(emphasize the importance to keep public education dollars in public schools and not charter schools.
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?
-Increased dropout rates due to long periods of disengagement
-Loss in learning
-Lack of resources
We must adhere to the CDC guidelines and recommendations of our local health experts to ensure the safety of students and staff.
What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?
COVID has grossly impacted the way our teachers, support staff, and administrators function on a day to day basis. The district’s number one spending priority in the budget should be labor. We must ensure that the budget reflects the need to maintain adequate staffing to continue the learning processes for all students. Teachers need to feel appreciated and motivated to remain invested in providing quality education practices .
What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?
Standardized testing is a tool that only test one aspect of a students knowledge. These test do not reflect a students intellectual capacity. It jeopardizes their full education learning process by basing their future on one single score. Historically, standardized test were used to disenfranchise the minority populations. In many ways these test ignore culture. I feel that standardized testing should be revised to include a students cumulative G.P.A , their community service hours, and school-based extra-curricular activities.
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 take a personal interest to ensure that the following areas are offered to students throughout the academic journey.
-Life Skills/Home Economics
-History of all religions and cultural awareness
What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?
A students mental and emotional health/wellbeing is equally important to the education and resources that are available to them. Their ability to think and learn is directly impacted by their social/emotional wellbeing. Students need to know that they are more than just the grades they receive. Students need to feel welcomed in their schools. Students thrive when they are provided opportunities to engage in non-academic activities that encourage them to express themselves in such a way that empowers them to believe in themselves.
How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?
Schools should utilize the restorative justice approach. Studies show that restorative justice programs are cost effective, safe, and create stronger communities.
What are your top priorities around special education in your district?
-How do we better educate our parents so that they can support their children in a meaningful way to ensure their child is receiving a quality education?
-Recommend earlier testing to begin earlier intervention/support services post testing.
-Re-examine how we approach learning styles to encompass the variations of learning in a culturally and sensitive way.
What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?
For years, society has spent a significant amount of time and energy teaching our students how to read and write. While learning to read and write have been considered fundamental life skills, a series of questions remain. Have we devoted that same level of attention to teaching our students the importance of kindness, learning about others that are different from them, and exposing them to different religions and places where people are not treated fairly?
As a Trustee, I will focus on achieving equity within our school district by supporting an equitable transformation through our instructional practices to one that leverages student voice and choice. I will advocate and fully support topics, such as social justice, racism, religion, gender, LGBTQ, and able-ism to be openly discussed and taught within classroom settings. I will support students to be inquisitive about their learning in a way that they can understand, grow, and form their own social constructs.
Any other information you want to include or share?
” A vote for HUNT is a vote for YOU!” I am the “Right Choice!” My years of experience working with students and families have equipped me with the necessary skills to impact positive and long lasting change within our JPS school district.