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.