Public Education is my passion. It is what I think about, read about, talk about; it is what I feel called to do with my life. With experience working for five different school systems, I have had the unique opportunity to see many different decisions that impact the lives of our students and teachers. Here are some of the reasons I am running to represent you on the Albemarle County School Board:
1. To stay at the top, we must continue to innovate and invest.
Albemarle County Public Schools are consistently ranked among the top school systems in Virginia. One of the things that sets us apart is our willingness to try new initiatives and stretch the boundaries of traditional learning definitions. We need to continue our innovative programs such as language immersion, multiage learning communities, and strong investment in technology. The world is changing faster than we ever imagined; let’s make sure our children don’t get left behind. This also means we must invest in our teachers and staff. I am committed to providing high-quality professional development opportunities that increase teacher capacity, and providing fair, living wages and benefits for all school employees.
2. Direct smart growth through proactive expansion and construction
We currently have overcrowding in many schools, and have enrollment projections that show more severe issues in the next ten years. The areas of the county known as the "urban ring" have been most impacted by this population growth, due to available affordable housing and access to public transportation. This is placing an inordinate burden on the schools in that area that must be alleviated. Redistricting needs to be done in a way that listens to the community while ensuring that every school can meet the needs of ALL students. As a board we should direct proactive construction so that we can stay ahead of growth. Our expansion should also include sustainable design elements like natural lighting to reduce electric bills, rainwater collection systems, and solar energy which already exists in six schools in the county.
3. Fight the Achievement Gap and expand Pre-K
Just as Dr. Moran's Equity and Access Initiative says: "ALL means ALL". Albemarle County Public Schools are doing a fantastic job educating the majority of our county's children, but there are still barriers to success for some students. We need to work even harder to close the achievement gap for our most at-risk students, through strategic investment into programs that target them explicitly. There are also a disproportionately low number of economically disadvantaged students and minority students in our high school academies- this is not just an achievement gap, this is an opportunity gap. As a Reading Interventionist I have seen that the opportunity gap begins at a very early age, and can cause devastating consequences. Every dollar spent on high-quality early education for at-risk children is a dollar (or more!) saved in future interventions. We must ensure that every child identified as being at-risk receives Pre-K services; there should be no waiting lists.