October 14, 2020
School District:Swartz Creek Community Schools
City: Swartz Creek
How long have you lived in your district?
Have you received any endorsements?
Not from an organization
Are you an incumbent?
Why do you want to be a school board member?
My desire to serve my community in this capacity comes from years of participation with the schools in varying capacities along with my other community involvements. I have a passion for helping others. I know I have the knowledge, skills, and experience to continue to be a productive and engaged SC School Board Trustee helping our district grow and address challenges. People’s experiences with the Swartz Creek school district is important to me. I strive for individual and community collaboration, encouraging personal growth and interpersonal understanding.
What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?
To me, education justice means an equitable, supportive, engaging and accountable educational system (in a district/community). Specifically in our district that means to continue to (and improve upon) having a safe, secure and nurturing environment to help our students know they are cared about, supporting and respecting their differing learning styles and experiences. Additionally, it means continuing to practice/implement restorative justice practices. It means continuing to engage our community to inform and and be informed. It means continuing to help ensure our families have access food and other resources to have security (be it food/mental/emotional/physical) so that the lack of these doesn’t impede their learning and education experience.
If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?
I would possibly like to see the 4 modalities that we currently have for our district: Face-to-Face; Hybrid/Blended; Online only; Virtual Learning Center available to accommodate the varying needs of our students/families. I would like to have updated buildings and more availability of mental health specialists. I would like to have civic engagement with student groups, families, individuals and businesses. Mentorship programs, Volunteer programs, Community speakers, Free enrichment classes, Community programs- the schools being utilized for the benefit of the students, families and community day and night. I would like regular town hall meetings.
Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?
Not all decisions are made at the Board level, so other involvement impacts decisions that affect the district. I think parents have a variety of ways to be involved: volunteer to help teachers/schools/athletic teams; be involved with the PTO; communicate with the school board and superintendent, attend school board meetings; participate in town hall meetings, participate with district surveys. Students similarly can volunteer, be engaged with student council, attend school board meetings and communicate with school board members and administrators; complete surveys. Families, individuals can do the same. I think it’s important to collaborate and be understanding.
Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?
Jessica and Jim Lanave; Matt Assenmacher; Rhonda Guinazzo
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
1. Student Achievement- Continue with curriculum alignment, focus on literacy and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education with parent engagement to foster students’ academic success.
2. Education Environment- Have safe, secure schools; continue to upgrade our learning environments with the improvements supported in our 2018 bond proposal.
3. Culture-That when a students leaves our district (upon graduation or before) they have the CREEK values incorporated into their life, because it does affect how they treat themselves and others; that these values are continually practiced throughout the district from administration, teachers, support staff and students.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?
1. Continue to advocate for public education and funding for districts.
2. Additional funding and continued guidance to districts to help students and staff to stay healthy during this pandemic.
3. Advocate for funding for early childhood learning.
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 challenges of the varied impacts of different learning modalities, the level of engagement from students and their parents (impacting their child’s education), how our students connect (or don’t) with staff and each other, mental/emotional health issues for students and staff; disruptions in educating students and extracurricular activities. I think our district must continue to stay diligent with our safety protocols and communicating to staff, students, and families what must be done to keep ourselves and each other safe and healthy. Our board and administrators need to continue to closely monitor COVID cases in our district and adjust our ECOL accordingly. Our district needs to continue to work closely with the Genesee County Health Department and take guidance from the GCHD and State agencies.
What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?
Keeping our staff and students safe and healthy (physically, emotionally and mentally).
Technology so all students may be able to participate in learning.
Programs, training, initiatives that increase student learning and achievement.
Not prioritized :
Less of a priority is anything that does not help our students and staff to improve their learning and educational experience and contribute to their overall wellness. Because of CoVid-19, many student-involved activities are limited so funding for them is not a priority.
What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?
I think standardized tests play a role in gauging student progress and should be utilized along with other assessments (like STAR and DIBELS). Additionally, our district uses MTSS:
The Michigan Department of Education defines a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) as: “a comprehensive framework comprised of a collection of research-based strategies designed to meet the individual needs and assets of the whole child. MTSS intentionally interconnects the education, health, and human service systems in support of successful learners, schools, centers, and community outcomes. The five essential components of MTSS are inter-related and complementary. The MTSS framework provides schools and districts with an efficient way to organize resources to support educators in the implementation of effective practices with fidelity so that all learners succeed.”
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?
Our teachers do an outstanding job with our students at every level! Our district has a well balanced curriculum including AP classes, our students have access to the Genesee Career Institute, and dual enrollment. Our administrators have worked to align curriculum requirements throughout all grades. I would love to have everyone (students, staff, admin, board and families) in the district read “Have You Filled A Bucket Today” at the beginning of each year and discuss its message throughout the year. I would like every student in middle school to learn to swim (as part of gym). I would like every student to have a Personal Living class before they graduate. All three of these would have life long ramifications , helping our students have success skills in their life.
What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?
I believe it’s a great responsibility because mental and emotional health have a profound impact on physical health, behavior and ultimately what is taught and learned. Our district has been proactive in helping our staff have ACEs training and better understanding trauma and its effects on our students (and fellows). The utilization of MTSS is also used to assist our students and families.
How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?
Our school district utilizes restorative justice practices. I believe in personal responsibility, accountability, understanding and forgiveness.
It is very important that our staff and students are safe in our schools. We have added physical safety measures (entries) at our elementaries and will continue to update our buildings.
What are your top priorities around special education in your district?
Helping families and students to identify needs, develop a plan and implement the plan. Continue to collaborate with the GISD and address needs as identified by our Special Education admin.
What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?
Equity within our district is impacted by everyone- the board, admin, staff, students and families. It is an ongoing process that will require honesty, acceptance and a willingness to change. My vision for the Swartz Creek Community Schools is to have a thriving school system and community rich in diversity of thoughts, experiences, people cohesively working together providing an education and sets of skills that allows people to go out into the world and be useful, productive, and open to the world and those they encounter because they had a safe, supportive, engaging education and community that they are/were part of in Swartz Creek.
Any other information you want to include or share?
I believe in being of service to others, helping them succeed and that education and people’s experiences as they are growing up is very important, presently and for years to come. I have, and appreciate, varied perspectives about our district. We may not always have the same opinion or view, however I have, and will, listen and do my best to understand the needs and desires of our district and community, to make decisions for our students, staff and community based on what is in their best interest. I had an astounding education growing up! Many people within the district made that possible. My skill set is well utilized in board work and I hope to contribute to others having a great education in Swartz Creek.