October 4, 2020
School DistrictNorthville Public School District
How long have you lived in your district?
Have you received any endorsements?
Northville Democratic Club
Are you an incumbent?
Why do you want to be a school board member?
This is an era of remarkable opportunity and challenge in education. Schools are being reimagined and the role of teachers transformed. Districts are faced with simultaneous public health and public education obligations to ensure safe learning environments. Ongoing social and environmental challenges require a responsive curriculum. Now is the time for public health expertise on the school board. My teaching and professional practice in disease prevention will make an important contribution to navigating these forces.
I am a teacher and educational leader, recently retired as an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Wayne State University. In this capacity I directed graduate and undergraduate programs in public health. I am a Clinical Nurse Specialist working to prevent chronic disease, obesity, diabetes, and asthma, in school-aged children. I also have quality improvement experience in complex health systems. My thirty-three years teaching experience prepares me to make an important contribution to meeting the challenges my school district faces today. Now more than ever we need public health expertise and experienced educators on the School Board. I think I can help.
What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?
Educational justice recognizes that every child has the right to access to excellent academic opportunity. It presumes that each child’s unique strengths and learning needs should be assessed and then provided access to necessary resources and support. All children should be able to learn in an environment where every child has an opportunity to succeed.
If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?
My vision is that schools are no longer defined by bricks and mortar but are open places branching out across the community, connecting students and teachers with learning resources locally, nationally, and globally. Teachers will accelerate excellence in hybrid, blended, and online methodologies and advocate for equitable access to digital resources a matter of birthright. Individualization of instruction will accommodate the unique strengths and needs of each learners. The value of diversity, equity and inclusion will be integral and unquestioned as we prepare students for global citizenship.
Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?
The best answers to the educational challenges we face now and anticipate as we move forward are best developed by a collaboration of parents, students, families standing along side teachers, administrators, and the school board. We are stronger together.
Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?
I am running a grassroots funded campaign. I am the largest donor to my campaign.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
My top three immediate priorities are:
1. Ensuring that school environment is safe and that the physical, emotional, social needs of teachers, staff, families and students are fully addressed
2. Assessing and remediating learning losses due to emergency school closures in the spring
3. Stabilize school funding and district fund balances to protect educational programs and retain excellent teachers
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?
1.Increase mental health services and professionals in schools and provide adequate state resources to allow schools to both educate and keep students and staff safe.
2.Review and implement recommendations of the School Finance Research Collaborative
3.Support legislation that will put public school academies and management companies on equal footing with traditional public schools on issues related to transparency, reporting and treatment of employees. Also support reinstating a cap on charters and cyber 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?
The major challenge before us is the effective implementation of our Back to School Plan. In any major transformation of a complex system, there will be unexpected contingencies that interfere with achieving our intended outcomes. People, places, material, and processes will need to be closely monitored and adjusted when performance falls short. When health and safety is concerned, improvements must be made quickly. When monitoring reveals a shortfall, improvement could involve personnel re-training, repositioning necessary resources (PPE), building facilities (sanitizing, air filtration) improved, and social/emotional support services provided.
The district is also accountable for assessing academic progress and providing a rigorous curriculum to ensure that students meet established learning benchmarks in a safe and effective manner.
Finally, If community levels of virus increase or if building-wide outbreaks occur, learning will shift to remote methods .Parents, children, teachers should be prepared to respond to the need to transition learning into and out of the school building. It will be important that intensive outreach to families with complex needs continue regardless of the model of instruction. These times are unprecedented. It will require trust, patience, willingness to contribute to solutions, and a steady eye on the vision and goals of the district.
What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?
Spending priorities should focus on hiring support personnel, such as academic counselors, social workers, and nurses to broaden access to psycho-emotional support programs for students. Secondarily, it should be a priority to hire additional classroom support personnel to provide support to online and in-class teachers.
What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?
The priority obligation of the school board is to ensure there are the necessary resources to ensure the academic achievement of our children. Standardized testing contributes to the assessment of student performance. It is one indicator, in a portfolio of additional evidence, of teacher performance. Therefore, standardized testing plays an important role in helping keep the district on track.
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?
One of my priorities is to enhance and grow vocational/technical educational opportunities that prepare students as entrepreneurs, inventors, technicians, and skilled tradespeople. The success of our country requires that we develop the talent of our students and citizens and prepare them to move us forward into 21st century economies.
What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?
I believe that the district has a overarching obligation to support student and staff mental and emotional health/wellbeing in this unprecedented time of uncertainty and fear. Trust and emotional safety is necessary before learning can commence.
How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?
I lean toward a Restorative Practice philosophy where first, all students are understood within the context in which they live, that their first right is to be protected. If involved in a disciplinary action, they are offered a supportive opportunity to admit wrongdoing, to repair harms, and to be welcomed back into community. This recognizes the learning value over the punitive intent of disciplinary action.
What are your top priorities around special education in your district?
1. Ensure sufficient PPE for teachers and support personnel providing direct care to children with special needs.
2. Provide all necessary accommodations (vision, hearing, motor, behavioral) for students with complex learning needs to ensure effective online and in-person learning.
3. Empower parents to partner with teacher and support staff to manage tailored learning plans to meet their child’s needs.
What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?
Equity and inclusion are major priorities in the Northville School District with ongoing interventions being implemented district-wide involving students, families, teachers, staff, and leadership. I fully support these initiatives and will be an active participant regardless of the outcome of my school board candidacy.