October 4, 2020

Holly Nester

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictWaverly Community Schools
City:Lansing

How long have you lived in your district?

14 years

Have you received any endorsements?

no

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I love Waverly schools. They have provided my sons with a rich and diverse education that will help them become amazing adults. I want to be a school board member to ensure that Waverly continues its growth as a school system for everyone. I want to give a voice to children and parents who are often unheard and when heard are unappreciated. I want to work to develop schools that better represent and better serve the needs of all of our children. I want to be a board member to help Waverly be a place that teaches children to find their own success and reach it.

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

Education justice to me means creating a community within the school that gives every child the opportunity to learn. Children need to believe that there is value in learning and that their educators see the value in teaching them. Waverly has come a great way since my children have begun school but there will always be room for growth. Our curriculum must change to reflect the cultures, norms, experiences and learning styles of all of our students.

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

I would imagine the schools as a place where children can learn creatively and more organically through discussion, dissent and finding answers together. Different learning styles and needs would be accepted and accommodated to help each child reach his, her or their potential and children would play a role in creating their education experiences.

I would also create a less insular education experience. Education does not have to happen seated in a classroom for a set number of hours. Some students may blossom in different situations like online or small group learning. Others may benefit from having external support staff come into the learning environment. I have experience in that last area as a parent of a child with ASD whose therapists have come to the school to help teachers understand him, his learning style and the best ways to help him learn. They also came in to give teachers relief when he was having a particularly difficult day and needed extra support.

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

I recognize that ultimately all decisions rest with the school administration, but I think that parents, students and families should be intimately involved in making decisions within the school district. Feedback and input are not something a school district should avoid. Even negative feedback has value. Administrators should not fear making difficult decisions that may not please everyone, but they also must actively seek input from stakeholders like students and parents and the community to help them make the best decision.

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

No one

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

Achieving greater education equity by learning the needs of students and giving each child the tools they need to be successful.

Developing curriculum to reflect a diverse population.

Expanding learning opportunities. Some of these might be bringing in people to share knowledge and experience, and developing clubs to help children learn in real world scenarios.

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

Increased funding for schools

Decreased reliance on test scores to determine student or school success

A reevaluation of state statutes and regulations to ensure that they are unbiased and relevant to current life.

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?

We will have a lot of challenges in the coming school year. Our biggest concern is safety. This virus is too new and its long term effects are too unknown. Our decisions must be made based on sound science. It would be unfair to our students, our teachers and our entire community to make decisions too hastily. I believe that if the transmission rates increase or show no signs of decreasing soon then we may have to continue with online learning.

If transmission seems to be decreasing then we should begin gradually reintegrating into school buildings. Again, I think being hasty would be harmful. Students with the most need of support should be the first considered for reentry. Many have different educational needs or difficult learning environments that have made online learning particularly difficult.

I want to return to school buildings as soon as possible, but given the incredible number of person to person interactions in a typical school day it would be impossible to return without a plan.

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

Spending should prioritize the needs of students. They need good teachers who feel appreciated for their hard work and incentivized to continue their own growth and development. They need a curriculum and everything associated with learning, some examples being Chromebooks, the high school technology center, and the robotics lab. They also need to feel safe. This last priority is less defined but should include suicide prevention, anti-bullying and anti-bias training and education and any other means of helping them feel accepted and valued.

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

Standardized tests should be used to help evaluate a student’s growth but not to determine the success of the student or the school.

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 like to see our curriculum become less centered around a certain way of seeing things. If history is defined by the lens of the present then we need to change that lens. I would like to see a curriculum that includes more diverse influences. By the time they leave Waverly children should know more about what actually has happened and is happening in the world around them than I did.

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

I believe that a school district is educating a whole human being which includes their mental and emotional health. I think we have equal responsibility in supporting our teachers. Mental, emotional and physical health are of equal importance for every body to function at its best.

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

I think discipline should involve the students. A child who makes a mistake will learn nothing by being sent home except to do as they’re told. People need to understand the effects of their actions. If they only do as their told without understanding then there is no learning.

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

My top priority is increased education for educators and administration on how best to help students in special education. If educators are given the tools to look for ways to help these students succeed it would make for a better experience for everyone. The addition of co-teaching has been a great improvement in this area that Waverly has already done. Children are able to learn in class with their peers but also get support specific to that subject.

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

I think this is a paramount effort. We cannot grow as a society if we do not address the inequalities that exist for certain populations. Every child deserves the chance to begin at the same starting line.

Any other information you want to include or share?