October 4, 2020

Nichole Martin

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictEast Lansing Public Schools
City:East Lansing

How long have you lived in your district?

30 years

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I am running for re-election to continue to address the priorities I have for the district. I maintain the priorities that I ran on in 2016 as I strive to continue working on the progress we have made over the last four years:

a. Continue to refine cooperative relationships and transparent communication among students, teachers, administrators, and community
b. Continue to enhance the mental health of all students
c. Continue to access creative technology solutions to advance learning opportunities at all grade levels
d. Continue to collaborate with local businesses to explore post-graduation possibilities via mentoring, vocational instruction, and post-secondary educational preparation
e. Continue to honor and enrich diversity and cultural understanding to improve student/parent/teacher growth and development

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

Educational justice means addressing the gross inequities that are found within education. Specifically within the context of our district it means doing more to help develop partnerships with support systems through programs such as Turning Point of Lansing and fostering mentorships between primary and secondary students.

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

If I could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis it would include a 100% about face in our understanding of structural racism and there would be funding system to truly support the equitable efforts that teachers and staff want to make to obtain student success.

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

Parents, students and families should be involved at varying levels through work groups and periodic surveys to help guide and match educational services with the recommendations of health officials.

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

My parents. I am thankful that they have always been in a position to support my ambition.

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

My top 3 educational priorities would be on enhancing mental health, equitable access to technology and continued efforts to address racial inequity.

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

My top 3 educational priorities at the state level would be adequate funding, collaboration with district leaders as it relates to addressing 2020-21 standardized tests and advocacy for the support of mental health professionals in 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?

We need to keep a pulse on what is happening at MSU. When MSU closed its dorm options for undergraduate students, families sought out alternative housing within our community and many have acted irresponsibility. We have families who rely on college students to care for their children while they work and in person schooling is not an option. Now we have quarantined babysitters, who had we been in person could have potentially spread COVID to our students who would have in turn spread the virus within our schools. I am fearful that we will have to maintain this online school platform for the remainder of the year as we will continue to see the student behavior increase and decrease and it will immobilize our ability to make safe reentry plans for our school age children. I anticipate an increase after the first football game, then Halloween, and then before Thanksgiving. The MSU students will go home at some point between Thanksgiving and January and our numbers will decrease and as we finally feel like we are in a safe spot they will come back and we will start all over again. This is in fact my worst fear. I would not want to be a college student now any more than I want to be an adult parenting through this with my children but it is what it is and we are going to have to figure out how to address and educate people to see beyond themselves.

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

I believe mental health, social inequity, and technology access should be the top spending priorities in our district. Alternatively, I do not believe that we need to be prioritizing any new projects or initiatives that do not address these three issues.

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

I believe standardized testing should play a little role in our school district. Standardized tests function on the premise that everyone has access and understanding of the same academic materials. This is not true and therefore we miss the opportunity to celebrate growth and development at a personal level.

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 support my fellow candidate, Matt Heos, in his focus on addressing government at an earlier age. I would support functional life skills being placed back into curriculum; filling out applications, interviewing for a job, doing laundry, addressing an envelope. In teaching for success on standardized tests we have given precedent to adequate depiction of a nonsense poem and yet our children do not know how to accurately complete a job application.

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

As a school district, I feel there is immense need to be supporting mental and emotional health and well-being of student’ and staff. Many years ago when funding was cut and mental health professionals and counselors were cut from the budget, the issues that test your mental health wellness did not go away. Instead they were just not addressed with any form of consistency or effectiveness. This has to be addressed, ongoing and refined as you move forward. Mental health is not something check off your to do list.

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

I believe through multiple trainings the district has worked hard to address student discipline and make schools safe for students and staff. That being said, we have a lot of work to do to address the disproportionate disciplinary rates among minority students.

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

Making sure that there has been contact with each family who has a child with an IEP or 504 Plan and making sure to help the family find their voice in advocating for their child during this time. Everyone is exhausted but there is a real opportunity to address way educational needs can be met even in an alternative setting such as remote learning.

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

The district is currently working on an equity policy to help support district goals for inequity issues within our district. Our district has taken a huge interest in attending MSAN conferences to address growth in the area of equity. The district has been intentional about addressing equity issues for the past two years as it relates to professional development opportunities.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Thanks for the opportunity to share.