October 4, 2020

Melissa Courtade

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictKenowa Hills Public School
City:Walker

How long have you lived in your district?

22 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Hon. Rob VerHeulen, Former State Representative and Walker Mayor; Dr. Flores, Ed. D., Grand Rapids School Board Member; Tracy Hart, Kenowa Hills School Board Member; Jack Prince of the GREJ or Grand Rapids for Education Justice; Eric-John Szczepaniak, Kenowa Hills Public School Board

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I’m inspired by our future, I’m inspired by educators, and I’m inspired by service.

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

To ensure all students are getting an equal opportunity at a quality education, quality teachers and a safe learning environment. An example of this in my district is to ensure that during the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of our schools we had universal Wi-Fi coverage so ALL students can continue learning during this time.

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

This virus has exposed many inequities in our educational system. I’ll continue to tackle them each day. I picture a school system that works for ALL students. I picture a school system where ALL students have what they need to be successful in school and to continue on to college or career.

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

There is no question that community voice is the most important. The reason I have been a school board member for eight years is because my community voted. Student Voice is equally important. It is the students who will benefit from a quality education. The students needs should always be assessed and students should always have a voice on our school board.

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

Myself

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

To ensure we are motivating empowered learners, complex thinkers, and problem solvers. To make sure every student has what they need to be successful in school and at home so they are able to learn. To make sure we are meeting the social/emotional needs of each student we serve.

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

At a state level my three educational priorities/goals are funding, education justice, and safety. I’ve been on the Michigan Association of School Boards Government Relations Committee for three years and sit on that committee presently. I will continue to use my role on the committee toward these goals.

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?

There have already been several challenges facing our school district due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our district needs to be prepared to screen and contact trace when need be, extensive cleaning and sanitizing, and allowing the grace and space for teachers and students to work at a pace that is comfortable for them. The social/emotional needs of our students and our teachers have never been so important then at this time and this is a priority now and for the long haul. We need to continue to ensure that our students needs are being met in regards to their education, mental health, and nutrition.

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

our top priority for spending should always be with the thought of how is this spending going to affect the students. If it does not benefit students it should be evaluated closely. Currently we are in the middle of a pandemic so spending should reflect monies being spent on the safety of students and staff members.

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

The use of standardized testing is way to extreme in our educational systems but since they are required by our state I will continue to push our state to be less prescriptive and punishing and I believe that our state should give more support to our at risk students.

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 was very involved in the huge undertaking our district took on switching to our personal mastery curriculum. I will continue to support personal mastery in my district making sure every student is being reached.

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

I’m very proud of our school district with the implementation of the “Profile of a Graduate”. There is significant work being done in the area of social/emotional learning and the emotional well being of each student and staff member. I would like to continue building on the work the district is doing.

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

I feel our district should handle discipline on a case by case basis keeping each student and family in mind when discipline has to be implemented. When discipline has to be implemented there should always be a parent/guardian involved. Students and families should always be aware of their rights and responsibilities in the discipline process. I’m a strong advocate for restorative practices and I’m thankful we have begun to implement this in our school district.

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

My son is a special education student in our district. I’m also a special education advocate for students and families all around the state of Michigan. I would like to see my district focus on inclusion when necessary and I would also like to see my district stay current on special education law. All students should feel included in their education. Every special education student needs to feel supported by the IEP team which should always include the parents/guardian of the student when making decisions for the student.

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

Equity in education means that personal and social circumstances are not obstacles in achieving educational potential. Another part of equity in education is inclusion which ensures that basic minimum standards of education are for all. I want to help continue to ensure that each and every student receives a quality education no matter their gender, socio-economic status, or ethnic origin.

Any other information you want to include or share?

My heart goes out to our students, staff, and community at this time. The decisions that are being made are some of the most difficult decisions we may ever face in our lifetimes. I was inspired to see all the volunteers when this pandemic shut us down rally and make sure our students and families were given meals everyday, teachers engaging with students virtually, and school administration that recognized the emotional well being of our students was a priority during this very difficult time.