While adults are the folks I need to convince to vote, my priority will always be Students First. Students are the consumers of school and the future of our community, by focusing on their experience we can ensure our collective future. Student’s want to become productive, contributing members of society and it is our responsibility to provide them the tools to reach their potential that ensures we all rise together.
Students know what they need but not always how to ask for it or what resources are available to them. By including their voice into decision making we honor their school experience that looks substantially different from previous generations.
How do we do this though? As a board we have a Student Advisory Council where we meet monthly with high school student representatives from across our district. While each school is unique, there is surprising consistency amongst what students ask for. Notably, mental health supports, consistency with grading practices, consistency with expectations, more connection with staff and peers, infrastructure repairs, etc. etc. etc. Like I said – they know what they need and we can and should continue to honor their input.
When I read these words it feels like I am asking you to do ‘one more thing’, but really this goes far beyond what you can do for your district. Schools have always been community hubs. Students and families should feel a deep sense of connection to their schools. I want everyone to have the experiences my family has had. Our children’s schools host regular events that happen around book fairs or fundraisers, but rarely is that the major focus. School events allow younger siblings to get a feel for their future school, parents to get to know other families, and most importantly students to be the tour guide and expert in navigating their school. There is great pride that comes for students to bring their family into their school.
Of course community engagement at a district level can be challenging, but our amazing staff find ways to bring us together. The Canvas Classic had it’s inaugural year in 2022 where four high schools competed at CSU stadium and students from every school had the opportunity to walk the field showcasing their schools banner. Additionally, schools perform music and theater – my children’s school even had the opportunity to perform their own musical in a high school auditorium! (I cannot link all the music and theater programs in one place – but I would HIGHLY recommend you check out your neighborhood school’s productions before they are sold out!) As a board member, I cannot make community events happen; however, I can support them through board recognitions, attending and promoting events, and prioritizing our budget towards students interests.
Community engagement wouldn’t be complete without actionable community input, which is why we have the District Advisory Board, District Accountability Committee, Leadership PSD (formally PSD Insight), Audit Committee, Early Childhood Policy Council, and so many more (of which I have been part of many… guess which ones!). We also host community engagement sessions around topics such as curriculum adoption, safety, mental health, graduation, or simply to share your thoughts. We are still working on a best path forward, yet there are no shortage of opportunities to engage with the district.
When I was a student, college was the only pathway advised to me. While I appreciate my college (and graduate college) experience, I also don’t believe it’s the right fit for everyone nor does it alone provide the workforce we need. I have been a champion of trade-schools, community colleges, and apprenticeships since I began teaching. Again, students know what they need often times better than adults. Students know when college doesn’t fit their passions, and trying to force them into a one-size-fits-all box just doesn’t cut it.
In PSD we have many amazing pathways for students to find their passion and develop the skills to work in their desired field. Click on the link! I can never do justice to the webpage full of opportunities for students. As a board member, I prioritize building on our already fantastic programs through further developing new and existing partnerships with businesses, post-secondary institutions, and ROTC programs. Our students have no shortage of interests, and it is our responsibility to ensure each student has the opportunity to pursue their passions.
Teachers and Classified Staff
PSD doesn’t run without staff – just like any other institution. HOWEVER, our staff are NOT like ANY OTHER – they are award winning, world-class, exceptional educators. I count myself lucky to get the opportunity to see them in action and work with them to continue moving our district forward. I learn from PSD staff every single time I interact with them because they are exceptionally professional and experts in their respective fields.
I know each of my children have already had teachers that they will remember as life-changers, I even had the opportunity to call one of them out during a board meeting during teacher-appreciation week. They have set my kids up for success at every turn, and I hope that is your kids experience too. It’s not just the teachers though (although they are second to none), I also include our classified staff as educators. Many are paraprofessionals who work with students in the classroom teaching alongside teachers, but I also mean our child nutritionists, custodians, bus mechanics, nurses and others. These folks know our students by name, greeting them as they serve them meals, helping them navigate the hallways, or providing internships. I could gush on our staff for hours – let’s get coffee and I’ll tell you all about how fantastic they are!