I graduated in 2004 from Gladstone High School. I had a conversation last week with one of my former teachers and she told me students today (15 years later) are still using some of the same books I used back then. We need to change this. I heard at last night’s board meeting that Social Studies curriculum is being evaluated to replace what we currently have in place. This is great news. I believe we need to prioritize this with curriculum that includes advances in best practices and research on how learning best happens. Additionally, as it is 2018, I would like to see us do our best to move toward packages that include digital resources and ensure our kids have adequate access to them.
Educational Enrichment Programs
I have worked in after-school programming here in Azusa for the past 11+ years. (5 years ago I founded MYTHIRDPLACE, a nonprofit organization, and have been leading it ever since.) Through these venues I have seen first-hand the power of creative, relevant, and engaging educational enrichment activities. My most memorable learning experiences as an AUSD student were not worksheets or handouts, though I recognize and agree they are a needed and valuable tool at times. My most memorable learning experiences were hands-on activities where I could tell my teachers were actually excited to lead them. I want to create space for eager and creative teachers to develop innovative lesson plans and do a better job resourcing and encouraging them to do so. I would love to find a way to incentivize, highlight, and recognize teachers in our district who are already doing this very thing.
Teacher Support Programs
In conversations with various teachers/friends within the district, a common theme I hear communicated is a general lack of feeling supported… Talks of how the district once felt like a family, but now things feel far more disconnected. As a founder of a mentorship organization, I would love to see us develop a robust teacher mentorship program where newer teachers can learn from proven veteran teachers. I would also like to see additional systematic ways for our teachers to share their perspectives and concerns with accountability measures built in to ensure timely and adequate responses. I believe some of the best teacher support we could offer is asking, listening, and responding to our teachers.
Bringing It All Together
I have many different ideas, but they must reconcile with the realities of:
- The allocation of resources.
- Any one Board Member is ⅕ of a vote and must work with the other four. And maybe most importantly…
- I don’t believe it would do justice to our district and community if some of these decisions were made at the top level only without input and feedback from stakeholders such as teachers, classified staff, administration, counselors, kids, parents, and more.
It’s easy to suggest ideas or solutions, but much more challenging to collaborate to find viable ones. A strategy to cultivate a collaborative environment is among what I’m most excited to bring to the table.
If you are voted in, what changes do you want to bring as far as curriculum, educational enrichment programs and teacher support programs?