A Team Player Who Listens
In my professional life, I work as part of a team and listen to a wide range of viewpoints—which may include federal, state, private sector, and nonprofit entities—to identify challenges and possible solutions. In serving on boards, I also do my due diligence by listening to executives, staff, members, and constituents before making decisions and recommendations. Similarly, in Traverse City, I have been listening for the past 4 years, attending TCAPS board meetings, meeting with teachers, parents, administrators, community members, and local business owners. During this time, I have observed TCAPS' strengths and areas for improvement. The following are my priorities.
Boosting academic achievement
We need to ensure the students who need the most support get it. At the same time, the top and middle of the class need to be challenged. When teachers have as many as 30 students in a classroom, that can be a tall order. An assessment of classroom size, the need for teachers' aides, and the potential for a larger tutoring/mentoring program is warranted.
Supporting students' social and emotional well-being
Seeking financial and other support is paramount to address the mental, social, and emotional needs that can interfere with learning and a child's ability to reach his or her potential. Currently, TCAPS buildings share part-time social workers who are spread way too thin. In partnership with the TBAISD, community foundations, and other public and non-profit organizations, we can enhance the supports we provide our students.
Measuring success — academically and beyond
TCAPS sets the foundation for a lifetime of learning and success. We want to ensure that every child reaches his or her potential. Establishing and reporting on benchmarks that include academic success, vocational training, extra-curricular opportunities, the morale of our teachers and staff, the District's physical infrastructure, and the state of our finances are all part of the picture.
Responding to COVID-19
As our community will likely be dealing with social distancing and online learning for some time, it is important to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of distance learning, and how TCAPS can make adjustments for students, based on input from parents, teachers, and union leaders. As the economy gradually reopens and parents return to the workplace, the effect of COVID-19 on student's learning and well-being will continue to be challenging.
Advocating for more state funding
Michigan has under-invested in public education for over 25 years. To ensure our children are among the best and the brightest in the global marketplace, we need to continue partnering with other districts, our state legislators, and others to push Lansing to prioritize investing in our children's future. More information on how school funding works in Michigan—and how residents can help TCAPS achieve more equitable funding—would be yet another way TCAPS could better engage with the community.
Assessing safety and security
With the $107 million bond that passed in 2018 for capital improvements, we want to invest in enhancing the security of our buildings and the safety of our students, teachers, administrators, and staff in the most effective way. A comprehensive review of the district's security and a comparison to other districts and best practices (nationally) would ensure our tax dollars are spent wisely.
Seeking public input
Soliciting and responding to public input at Board meetings, holding community forums/town halls, and reaching out to community groups would help restore the public's trust.
Communicating better with parents and the broader community about TCAPS' progress, challenges, and plans to address those challenges would not only enhance the community's understanding but also the community's ability to support TCAPS.
Improving board governance
TCAPS administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and the broader community deserve to have a Board of Education that exhibits the qualities of a high-functioning board, such as accountability, consensus-building, and inclusiveness. Best practices indicate that a board's scope of authority must be clearly defined for its members, and the board must decide on a framework to guide its decisions. In this manner, the board has a structure to approach unexpected issues without straying from the organization's best interests and highest priorities.
With your vote,
I will always weigh the pros and cons of any decision, and I will advocate for what's best for our students, teachers, parents, and broader community—with thoughtfulness and integrity.