What is the importance of the Unit #4 School Board to residents of Champaign?
School board members are the final authority on everything related to our public schools. The school board develops a vision for all Unit 4 schools to follow, and it makes hiring decisions for top administrators, who are responsible for executing a plan that aligns with the vision of the school board. In short, the school board employs the administration, the administration hires teachers, and teachers teach children. A strong school board oversees the decisions of the administration, which ultimately makes or breaks the quality of the education that every child in our district receives. In addition to making decisions about how the district will educate children, the school board is also responsible for all of the district's revenue and spending, decisions regarding renovating and building school facilities, decisions regarding student discipline, and many other legislative items. An excellent school board works with other local government bodies, like the Champaign City Council.
Why are you qualified to be on the School Board?
I attended Carrie Busey, Franklin, and Centennial as a young student. I graduated with distinction from the University of Illinois with a degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology. I own a business that serves hundreds of Unit 4 middle and high schoolers each year, and I personally teach high school math and science in a one-on-one setting. I have 9 years of one-on-one teaching experience, along with my volunteering and leadership experiences with local organizations that serve families experiencing poverty and violence. I've also worked with many students and parents who have IEP's and 504 accommodations. This means I've had the opportunity to form relationships with thousands of Unit 4 students, parents, and teachers with a very diverse set of needs, so I bring a perspective to the school board that's been impacted by the experiences of many people in Champaign.
If elected, what is something you want to accomplish on the School Board, and how long will it take?
If I am elected to Unit 4 school board, I want to close the achievement gap that exists between our most successful students and students who face barriers to academic success, such as racism, poverty, and disability. Unit 4 has many initiatives to address these problems, but most of our students are still not meeting their educational goals. Students of color and students experiencing poverty are very disproportionately impacted by this inequity in education. I first want to understand the initiatives already in place, what progress has already been made, and how these initiatives are still failing our students. I also want to do everything in my power to reduce classroom sizes in the lower grade levels, as our classroom sizes are substantially larger than the state average and the teacher-recommended classroom sizes. Creating a healthier, more supportive working environment for our teachers that emphasizes strong communication with the school board is also a priority of mine. These actions will close the achievement gap in our district, and though it will certainly take years for all students to benefit, we will see immediate results by providing adequate trauma-informed training for district faculty, reducing classroom size, improving communication, and establishing policies that prioritize the health, safety, and academic success of our students.
Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter?
Across the United States, school board members are the largest number of elected officials. We all know that high-quality public education is powerful and important, but many voters don't understand just how relevant school board decisions are to their everyday lives.