October 4, 2020
School DistrictAvondale School District
How long have you lived in your district?
Have you received any endorsements?
Are you an incumbent?
Why do you want to be a school board member?
Develop policies and decisions that will: Retain and find great educational staff; Ensure financial success; Build an inclusive learning environment
What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?
Education justice is providing equalized opportunities – access to educational resources, quality instructions, and focus on restorative justice, – so all learners can reach their full potential. Avondale School District has diverse learners, which provides us the opportunity to lead in education justice. As leaders, we must be vigilant to always be aware of our unconscious bias to value all people for their content.
For me, I work hard to listen to the person’s words and not guess at their motivations. This approach helps me empathize with the situations and circumstances that are presented to us. My empathy to the situation allows me to work towards decisions that help everyone move forward.
If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?
I have always believed that education is the key to our collective future. We need to continually assess delivering education to our students. I believe that to unleash the talents that our learners have, we must first recognize that all learners are different, some learners have complicated situations that need addressed before they can learn, and intrinsic motivation is the key to creating life long learners.
Based on my perspective, I feel that the school in the post crisis will have several channels to deliver education to our students in the format that best fits them; differentiated learning curriculum that will provide opportunities to unlock the curiosity in our students.
Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?
The school district serves our parents, students, and families and therefore, they should be informed and consulted in the decision making process. The more we engage our stakeholders the better we can understand the situation, alternatives, and decisions. Additionally, I believe the dialog would promote empathy to each others point of view. The toughest challenge is balancing all stakeholders view points to arrive at a “community” decision. I believe that if we develop empathy, we will have grace for the decision.
Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
My top three educational priorities are:
1. Retain and Find Great Educational Staff: The key to great education is to have great teachers, administrators, and support staff
2. Ensure Financial Success: Long term success is driven by operating the district with financially responsible budgets.
3. Build an Inclusive Learning Environment: We best serve all in our community by listening to, engaging with and advocating for our diverse learners, parents, community members, and businesses.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?
My top three state educational priorities are
1. Increasing per pupil funding
2. Increasing local control on funding school
3. Revising how schools are evaluated
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 school district continues to implement and adhere to the safety guidelines published by the CDC, State of Michigan, and the Oakland Health Department. The more difficult part is in the enforcement of these policies, especially when it comes to visitors to our school.
What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?
The school district’s top priority is compensation for our Educators, Administrators and Support Staff. Retaining and finding great educational staff is a must. I believe that the key to education is great educators.
What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?
Standardized tests need to serve as a compass in evaluating how we deliver education to our learners. With good analysis, we are able to identify areas for improvement in delivery and content. This compass also serves as a measure to ensure that all learners are growing and becoming proficient.
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?
Regularly reviewing the curriculum to ensure that the classes and topics are relevant in the eyes of our students are important. We are living in a world that has never existed, a world where at your fingertips you can access all the facts that you need. As educators, we must contextualize the facts and support our learners in shaping their behavior to become active members of our community. Thus, the curriculum must evolve as the context of our learners evolve.
I would keep our project based learning initiative. The project base learning methodology provides a driving question, leads students through a collaborate learning process, allows the student to explore solutions, and provides a structure for student reflection and formative feedback to increase curiosity and learning. Project based learning is a great tool for engaging student learning.
What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?
Obvious or not, social emotional health is at the core of all people. When your social emotional health is good and center, your mind is available to learn, to be curious, and to be empathetic. So our school district, in partnership with the community, must dig deep to help fill the gaps that prevent social emotional well-being.
With limited resources at the school district level, I believe the school needs to engage the community to help fill the gaps. My experience tells me that when our community understand the need, they will step in to help support the resolution. Avondale has many initiatives that have blossomed when community members stepped up to support the initiative.
How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?
Our school district has embraced Restorative Justice. We have implemented this approach and restorative justice has yielded significant results as measured by reduced second time offenses and reduced student days away from school. More importantly, the approach:
– Shows how their action impact another student
– Teaches them how to change their behavior
– Finds a way to make things right
Restorative Justice provides our learners a solid foundation for managing future situations in a conflict free way.
What are your top priorities around special education in your district?
Top priority is to identify learners who need special education support early and quickly. The faster we can identify our special education learners, the faster we can provide support.
What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?
This is a work in progress. Equality is and has been on top of the minds for our Administration. As a leadership team, we discuss and have reviewed data to drive decisions to increase equality for our learners.
Any other information you want to include or share?
I believe that the youth of our world are the key to our collective future. The more we invest in them, the better humankind will be. I have partnered with two other kindred spirits my wife and Jeff Lau to form Gift of Giving (giftofgiving-mi.org). Gift of Giving is a non-profit organization with the mission to provide Avondale youth:
– Clothing and nutrition for those in need
– Entrepreneurial experiences to mentor future leaders
– Classroom enrichment programs to inspire people to go beyond.
Going in our fifth year, we have in total:
– Created two student run companies: Beans To Bags (beanstobags.org) is a coffee roasting company that purchases, roasts, and sells approximately 3,500 lbs of coffee per year. Moments Photography (momentsphoto.org) is a student run photography company where the business focuses on sports photography, family photography, senior photography, and many more. With no paid staff for both businesses, all profits go to students in need or scholarships for those who participate.
– Provided winter gear, clothing, and food to those in need. We have distributed approximately 3500+ winter items, 3500+ clothing and shoes, and 37,000+ canned of food.
– Provided back to school items to those in need. We have distributed approximately 40,000+ school supplies to our students and teachers.
– Provided approximately $50,000 in student scholarships for those who participated in Beans To Bags or Moments Photography.