October 4, 2020

Jeannie Moody-Novak

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictPlymouth-Canton Community Schools
City:Canton

How long have you lived in your district?

26 years

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I wish to serve my community and feel that my perspective as a parent in this district for the past 25 years offers me great insight into the issues we face. I worked in my prior position for a large national bank, PNC, in the Trust and Investment Office for more than 12 years. I understand balance sheets, budgets, bonds and investments. I have served as an elected board member of our library and understand how a large municipal budget operates, the responsibility of the board to review and assess the performance of the superintendent and the importance of participating in the long term planning. When I proposed the establishment of the library endowment, I didn’t just sign the paperwork, I also went out into the community and fundraised for it. I am a proactive individual and lifelong learner and would bring this trait to the school board.

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

Educational justice means that every students educational experience matters. Removing implicit bias from the classroom is crucial to providing the best experience for all students. Celebrating the diversity of our district is crucial and understanding how different students learn and how their unique perspectives make all of us stronger as a community is just a start. Problems are easier to solve when all who sit at the table are different and bring their varied backgrounds and perspectives to the process.

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

I believe we will end up stronger as a district as a result of the pandemic. We are adopting new ways of learning and becoming more flexible and adaptable as individuals. We are now open to using new technology. We will adopt what has worked well and find new tools to replace what didn’t work. As a community, many are demanding our students return to learning in person for their mental, social, emotional and physical well-being. I believe the community understands now why this area is so very important and may be open to allocating more resources to address mental health in our schools.

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

I think the pandemic has revealed new ways for teachers, parents, students and families to attend board meetings and share their views prior to decisions being made by the board. They have discovered ways to submit their questions before the board. Now we just need the board to answer those questions in a timely way instead of just spending time reading the questions out loud. This learning experience will make our board stronger and more accountable to addressing the concerns of the taxpayers in our communities.

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

I am running a grassroots campaign. I am not accepting money from anyone. I am only seeking the support of the community by asking them to vote for me.

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

1. Address the teacher shortage issues by attracting and retaining the very best teachers for our students. 2. Provide DEI and implicit bias training across the board for teachers and students. 3. Allocate more funding for social, emotional, mental and physical well-being of our students.

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

1. End the repurposing of school aid funding for priorities other than K-12 public education by the State of Michigan. 2. Equity increases to address funding differentials between districts and provide additional resources for “at-risk” school districts. 3. End the appropriation of public funds being directed to private or religious 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?

Adopt a science based approach to evaluation of data. Review the number of new covid cases in our area regularly. All districts and areas are not the same. Use data-driven decision making.

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

Attracting and retaining teachers and appropriate staffing should be a priority focus. Additionally, we should allocate resources for addressing systemic racism in our schools and country. We need to do this by prioritizing training and opening dialogue for students of all ages.

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

Standardized tests give us an idea of how we are performing against other school districts in our state and where we might need to focus our attention.

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?

Health Education is an area that needs to be addressed. The curriculum approved by our state legislators needs to be addressed. It appears to be outdated. Mental health is an issue facing a great number of students and families in our district. Lets bring this subject out into the open. Lets teach students to be more inclusive and teach them why this is important.

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

I believe this is a very high priority item….and I think many families feel like me. This is an issue many parents list as a reason we should all return to the classroom immediately. While I feel science should drive our decision to return to the classroom, I also feel that students and their families witnessed the detrimental effect of students mental health when they were forced to stay at home earlier this spring due to the pandemic.

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

Schools are begging for increased parent teacher involvement. When students have a discipline problem, parents need to be involved in the dialogue and resolution between their children and the administrators or teachers at the school. Increased discussion is of great importance. Also, this is an area where implicit bias training could allow teachers to understand the differences among their students and develop empathy toward improved conflict resolution in their classrooms.

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

Every student is a unique individual. I think our state has come a long way with the use of the IEP. It has been an improvement for parents and students alike and opens up dialogue and discussion so these students can perform at their very best.

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

Equity among schools is greatly needed. Not all schools within the district are alike. Some need greater resources, allocations and improvements to their facilities based on the age of the buildings. Continually addressing infrastructure is of great value to our community as well as our students.

Any other information you want to include or share?

When the pandemic is over, I feel the increased dialogue within our community needs to continue. I hope to be part of the continued conversation and long term planning of our district.