October 4, 2020
School DistrictWayne-Westland Community School District
How long have you lived in your district?
Have you received any endorsements?
Yes, Councilwoman Tasha Green, Pastor Edward Pruett (A Better Westland), Richard & Lisa Graham (Move Westland Forward)
Are you an incumbent?
Why do you want to be a school board member?
I desire to become a school board member to be a part of a solution to enhance Wayne-Westland Community Schools. As a parent in the district, an educator, and an advocate for children; I believe I have a responsibility to give back to the community in which I reside. It is time to move our district forward! My 24 years of experience in education, serving as a classroom teacher, a building principal, and now a central office administrator has afforded me the knowledge and experience to be an excellent candidate for the school board.
What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?
When I hear education justice, I think of restorative practices. Restorative practices encompasses repairing the harm and both parties learning from the incident. It is less punitive and more about correction and teaching. I also think of equality versus equal. In the context of Wayne-Westland Community Schools it means ensuring ALL means ALL. It means engaging in restorative practices versus suspensions in response to behaviors. It also means providing equitable support.
If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?
If I could completely reimagine schools, they would appear welcoming with hand sanitizing stations throughout. Students would have their own items, we would not share. Class sizes would be smaller and students would be happy because of the amount of attention they would be able to receive from teachers. Small group instruction would exist and students would attend classes in rotation to keep the class sizes small. In order to achieve this we would have to hire more teachers and support staff. Students would receive social emotional learning instruction with an anti-racist lens.
Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?
Most definitely, parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions through study sessions and surveys. Oftentimes, the community isn’t aware how decisions are made and this leads to confusion and frustration. If the community of stakeholders are involved in the process with the understanding of who makes the final decision up front, I believe that helps to eliminate dissension and frustration.
Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?
I do not have top financial supporters.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
My top three educational priorities/goals with my district are as followed: 1) Working to create a high functioning team of 8; board members plus the superintendent. 2) Ensuring all of our students and families have what they need to be successfully educated in a remote environment. 3) Increasing our graduation rate.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?
My top three educational priorities at a state level are as followed: 1) Equitable funding across the state for school districts that includes the unique needs of students with IEPs, English Learners, and students prevailing through difficult circumstances (also known as at-risk). 2) Appropriate financial support and guidance for schools navigating education during a pandemic. 3) Defining a true purpose of standardized testing which hopefully, leads to less testing.
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 anticipate the challenge of meeting the call to bring students and staff back to school quickly and safely. School districts must ensure physical distancing is possible and that it occurs. School districts must train staff on appropriate protocols including the use of PPE, physical distancing and unteaching what we’ve always taught children about sharing and group work and re-teaching how we interact in the age of COVID. School districts always must train staff on meeting the social-emotional needs of students and colleagues.
What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?
Under the current circumstances, the top spending priority should be meeting the needs to bring students back to school safely, training of staff, technology, and PPE. Alternatively, this year, the district should not focus on new curriculum purchases or adoptions as teachers are not in place to learn new curriculum. Districts should focus on supporting teachers and staff regarding working in a pandemic, not adding to their work loads.
What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?
I do not think standardized tests should play the major role they play in school districts, unfortunately they are federal and state mandates. In my opinion, too much is placed on high stakes testing and the information gathered in most cases, are not a true reflection of the students taking the assessments.
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 encourage the superintendent to hire a consulting firm to complete an equity audit of the current curriculum resources. An equity audit would identify the relevancy, engagement, and cultural responsiveness of the curriculum resources amongst other things. The district should then use the results to adjust the curriculum resources according to the findings.
What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?
School districts have a major role in supporting the mental and emotional health/well being of both students and staff. Social emotional learning from an antiracist lens should be a part of daily instruction. Prior to the pandemic, students and staff were dealing with social justice issues along with daily life and if schools do not carve out space for students and staff to talk the emotions only build which leads to behavioral outbursts and disconnected students and staff.
How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?
I believe all school districts should employ Restorative Practices. Restorative Practices is a framework to minimize the School to Prison pipeline. Students are not only taught to repair harm but they also learn how to respond to conflict appropriately. Furthermore, teaching students how to respond to conflict will reduce the suspension rate which impacts student achievement. Restorative Practices can also be used with students and staff, parents and staff, and staff to address conflict.
What are your top priorities around special education in your district?
My top priorities around special education in my district is ensuring students are placed in the least restrictive environment and that students are assessed appropriately to decrease the overidentification of African American male students. I will do this by working with the superintendent to ensure staff are properly trained in Special Education Laws and Implicit Bias. Also, I will work to ensure all staff are trained and utilize a variety of teaching methods to reach ALL children.
What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?
It is imperative that my district and all school districts work toward achieving equity. This can be achieved through professional learning and support on topics such as implicit bias, micro-aggressions, differentiating instruction, and culturally responsive teaching to name a few after an equity audit of the district is complete. School districts have to define equity and ensure that all staff understands that equity is not just black and white. Equity is inclusive of socio-economics, language, cultural, race, and gender.
Any other information you want to include or share?
I am a committed, child centered, compassionate candidate. I began my career as an educator in 1996 and worked diligently to improve my craft because I am committed to provide the best educational environment for children. I am a lifelong learner. Every decision I make is based upon how the outcome will impact children. I will always advocate for ALL children including those who are often misunderstood.