Why do you want to become a member of the Clarkston Board of Education?

I have served for 19 years as a member of the Clarkston Community Schools Board of Education. I was fortunate when I was first elected to have great experience in the board members that I looked to as mentors at the time. It is now my opportunity to pay it forward and serve as the mentor and provide that historical perspective. I enjoy staying busy and I do not go halfway on anything I do. When I choose to be involved with something, I give it 100 percent and being involved with CCS has been no different. The minute I do not feel like I am continuing to positively contribute to the district, our kids, and the community, I will no longer be a board member.

I have led the district through two successful bond issues, two superintendent searches, explosive growth, declining enrollment, and now through a second recession. The experience I have gained previously is really the only thing that can prepare our board to lead us through the truly unique and difficult times of the current global pandemic. We are going our absolute best to put kids and families first as we look at different ways of delivering learning in very turbulent financial times.

In my next term, I want to focus on two things:
1) Taking care of our kids, families, and employees in ALL of their needs. If a student comes to school sick or hungry, they cannot focus on learning. If they do not have positive meaningful relationships with a stable adult, all sorts of past trauma may keep that student from growing into someone who believes they can achieve their dreams. We will continue to do this by working together collaboratively as a board superintendent leadership team, being innovative with our offerings, and partnering with other agencies with similar missions.
2) Put Clarkston Community Schools on the map within Michigan and Nationally. I have just started my year as President-Elect of the Michigan Association of School Boards and next year I will serve as President. This position provides me with the ability to share our best practices with those in Michigan and around the country while learning from those I am interacting with and bringing other ideas and best practices back to see how they can benefit our kids. I look forward to developing these relationships and leveraging them to advocate for the kids of Clarkston, Michigan, and every kid in the United States.

When I was first elected, I was not married, and I had no children of my own. 19 years later, I can see firsthand the education my children are receiving from Clarkston Community Schools and I could not be prouder of the individualized approach that delivers exactly what each student/family needs. The days of getting a B in a subject and saying that is good enough are over! Our conversations between families and teachers are based on the needs of the ENTIRE student and based on exactly what the student has mastered and still needs to work on. We know that learning cannot take place effectively if the teacher does not have a relationship with their students. Regardless of the challenges we have in delivering our educational program going forward, we will continue to focus on building relationships, engaging students in their learning, and graduating students that believe they can achieve their dreams!

What ideas/contributions will you share if elected to the Board of Education?

I will continue to push to incorporate research based educational practices within the district. Each student has a unique set of needs and even though we have been able to keep classes sizes low, it is not realistic to think one classroom teacher can handle the needs of each student in their classroom at all times. Having teachers collaborate and work together has been an effective solution to this challenge and we need to do more and expand our teacher coach program. We have relied on experienced teachers working with both teachers and specific students within a classroom to individualize the instruction offered and make sure every student is making progress. Based upon the classroom assessments we are using, we can use technology to track where each student is within their learning journey and what specific items each student needs to work on.

We need to continue to work on our long-range facility and technology plans. We should not neglect our infrastructure. Instead of waiting too long and having a massive deficit in our physical facilities and technology network, we need to make ongoing investments and work with our community so they understand the needs the school district has along with the benefits to the community of providing those. We have always done more with less in Clarkston and we need to continue to be prudent while providing students a safe and comfortable learning environment with the appropriate tools to prepare them for a world after 12th grade.

I will push to be leaders in advocating for our kids and pushing good policies on the national, state, and local level. This begins by building professional relationships with other school board members and influential educational professionals across the state. We need to maintain relationships with our elected officials in Lansing and Washington, DC. We should continue to hold our elected officials accountable for their decisions impacting education. We need to make sure that elected officials are making decisions based on actual research and data and not using our kids as experiments for political gain. I think we should push for more local control while guaranteeing no student or group of students is overlooked.

I believe we must push for equality for each and every student in our community. This means that some students need less support and resources and other students, schools, and classrooms need more support. Every student is different, and we need to break the idea of treating them all the same. We need to allocated our resources to be used in the most effective way possible and that means directing them to where they can have the biggest impact. We should continue to explore how we can customize our approach and offerings to best meet the need of all of our kids. Based on the data we have, we are well on our way to targeting the specific students who need the most support in and out of the classroom.

The opinions and viewpoints expressed on this website are strictly my own personal opinions and in no way are meant to be an official position of the school board or the school district.