Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you run for the Saint Paul School Board?
Based on my conversations with teachers and other staff, I believe the schools need culture change. We need to change and adapt to move the district forward, but how that change happens is important. Everyone – teachers, administrators, and the Board – needs to pull together in the same direction. We can’t afford to lose a minute of student learning time because adults are busy getting organized. It’s up to the Board to help set a collaborative tone and high expectations for how policy is established and implementation plans created and carried out. The culture must be inclusive and collaborative with high expectations for student growth, where teachers and parents/caregivers feel informed, supported and valued, and are full, authentic partners in educating our students. Collaboration is core to who I am. I will engage students, teachers, parents, caregivers, and community members in making the hard decisions about how we prioritize our limited resources – and always put kids first.
What changes to the ‘status quo’ are you seeking? How will you partner with students, parents, educators, and the community to achieve it?
I respect teachers and professional staff. Their work is critical to the success of the schools and the success of students in the schools. I ran because I want to bring my experience and expertise in early childhood education to the school district. I know SPPS staff share a philosophy of supporting parents, ensuring physical and mental health, and providing environments where teachers feel supported and are able to form strong relationships with the children they see every day. I also know that when we do education well, everything else in our world works better. Our students are the future workforce for our economy, future parents and future policy makers. We must invest in our future.
If elected, what are your top three priorities as you take office?
My experience in working in Head Start and in the development of systems has led me to believe that the culture of an organization often is a determining factor in the success of that organization. SPPS need to have leadership that creates a culture including:
- Parent Engagement – Parent engagement is absolutely critical to a child’s success. As their child’s first educators, parents must support and encourage their child for him/her to excel. Everyone in the schools needs to support parents early on in their child’s career in school. Parents need education about child development, community-based resources, connections to other parents for social support, and information about the schools so they can be engaged in their child’s learning and effectively advocate for their child. When parents are prepared with information and confidence, they can be full partners in their child’s education. School staff and leadership must be representative of the diverse communities we’re fortunate to have in St. Paul. Parent input must be integrated into district and school-based policies and procedures.
- Student physical and mental health – Students need to be well nourished, well rested and feel well to have the energy they need to learn. Regular health (including oral health) screenings and follow up treatment should be offered in the schools so access is not a barrier. Students that have potential for mental health issues need early intervention and access to services on site. Too many of our students are struggling with trauma that impacts their ability to focus on learning. We must do everything we can to remove these health-related barriers to help our children succeed.
- Supporting teachers in building relationships and growing professionally– Teachers need support to form strong relationships with families and students. This could include regular home visits, more frequent conferences, regular e-mail and phone communication to provide extra encouragement or recognition. Class sizes should be determined by the needs of the children in the classroom and the experience and skills of the teacher. Children’s individual needs must be identified and plans put in place to support those needs so all adults are on the same page. Teachers deserve professional development that includes reflective supervision, professional learning communities, as well as adequate support in the classroom as they are faced with meeting a wide variety of differentiated needs of learners.
In what ways can the school district work to connect students with job training, education and the world of work in general?
Schools need to educate students about the impact and value of skilled labor in the curriculum. There are a variety of interests and abilities in our student body and these interests should be nurtured. I believe there should be programs for those who want to learn a skill that is marketable after graduation. I think the school district would benefit from working to provide apprenticeships, courses that teach specific trades, seminars, job-shadowing, and other opportunities for hands-on learning that would prepare students for the world of work.
Your experience is in early childhood education. How will you support students in older grades?
What children need in early childhood are the same things they need all the way through high school graduation:
- Parents and caregivers need support so they can be active partners in educating their children.
- Kids need to be healthy –physically and emotionally – so they have the energy they need to learn.
- Teachers need support from administrators to create an environment that allows them to build relationships with children and families, and provides professional growth opportunities.
Do you support the MN High School Leagues policy that allows transgender athletes to play on the sports teams that best matches their gender identities?
This policy makes sense to me because I believe it honors and respects the students. Sports are meant to be a supplement to classroom education and can teach very important lessons and skills. They need to be available to all students with an interest and desire to participate.
What do you propose for underrepresented students to learn about the historical achievements of their people? (i.e. African-American, East African, Hmong, Latino, LGBT, women and others)
The curriculum in all disciplines in the schools needs to provide an accurate, unbiased picture of the accomplishments of all people. Discussion about inclusion, systematic discrimination and the implications for all members of society should take place. Youth need an open, accepting environment to share beliefs, opinions, experiences and ideas in all classes. Fostering a school culture that emphasizes collaboration, the need for everyone to be involved, and a focus on the school goals will do much to end discrimination and marginalization.