- Retired former educator
- Three Degrees from Wichita State University: Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, Master of Education, Specialist in Administration; 5 different endorsements on my teaching certificate
- Wichita Public School At-Large Board Member for 8 years (3 years as president and 1 year as vice president), Board Member Pando Initiative (formerly Communities in Schools)
- Board Member, Trees for Life
- Volunteer: Teach for Life, Assistance League (Operation School Bell), Read to Succeed (starting Fall, 2019, Read to a 2nd grader weekly)
Personal Information: Widow, 3 grown married sons (who all graduated from WPS) and 9 grandchildren (4 are currently attending WPS)
What specific USD 259 issue deserves your immediate attention and how do you plan to address it?
The role of schools in society is to provide well educated students that can be productive citizens. To reach this, two years ago a new strategic plan was developed to guide the district. The Board now must monitor the 4 goals and 8 themes of the district’s strategic plan so achievement for all students will rise. This will result in all students being prepared for their future jobs or college. The strategic plan goals are: Increased graduation rate; Reading proficiently by 3rd grade; Increasing career/technical certification/college credit; and Students feel safe at school. The Board must stay vigilant about making decisions filtered through the strategic plan.
Teachers have expressed concern about low morale. What are the problems? How would you address them?
We must and are listening to our teachers so morale will increase. Morale has started to get better because the superintendent and board have worked to put changes in place. After cutting the budget by $90 Million over the first 6 years of my tenure on the board, in the last two years almost all our new money has gone to teachers and staff. The staff needed and deserved a raise.
We have also worked to change the climate and culture of the district so teachers can feel proud that they are on the cutting edge of making Wichita Public Schools a great place for all students to thrive and succeed. This work continues by listening first then acting on what we have heard. Teachers and staff have to feel valued. This started by giving them pay raises. Raises are a needed start but beyond that there also has to be a system developed to give other support for teachers. This includes listening and responding to concerns. The little things like thanking or praising a teacher, helps to make them feel valued. This may involve changing the culture at some schools.
The Board has directed Dr. Thompson to hold a second round of listening sessions to get widespread input on the strategic plan. More importantly it is to make sure that information and concerns are flowing to the right person so change can happen. Any problem or concern needs to be resolved as close to the source as possible. If that doesn’t happen, the teachers have to feel they can address it at the next level without fear.
Share your thoughts on the new grading system: Standards Referenced Grading.
The new Standards Referenced Grading System will ensure that expectations stay high no matter which school the student attends. Parents and students know the learning expectations by using Standards Referenced Grading (SRG). SRG is also linked to the new strategic plan. SRG is currently being implemented at the elementary level.
I realize this is a major change for everyone. To that end, I have been attending parent meetings and visiting with many teachers. Everyone seems to agree that SRG will increase rigor and provides increased openness about what is to be taught at each grade level.
However, there is currently some confusion on how to properly grade students with the new system. This is especially true of our Special Education and ESOL teachers because their students are often performing below grade level. The Board has to hold the district administration accountable to provide information, training, flexibility and support for our teachers as they learn this new way of grading. Implementing SRG will become more difficult as the changes begin to effect middle schools next year and high schools in two years. This is why I am committed to remaining on the board to help guide this transition.
What do you think is the largest obstacle to student success/graduation and how do you plan to address it?
Wichita Public Schools is a large (50,000+ students), urban (76% poverty), diverse (121 languages are spoken in the homes) school district. This is a bonus for our students because the district reflects the world in which students will live and work. But it also makes our jobs harder. We must intentionally build supports that will help every student.
To increase the graduation rate, a learning center was established in every high school. There was a new learning center started at Towne East Mall and Lewis Academy expanded their programs. These changes resulted in the highest number of students graduating last spring since 1976.
The district must continue to identify students who need extra help and make sure the help is given. The academic expectation is high for every student and graduation is critical. . The strategic plan sets the goals, and the expectation is that every student meets those goals, graduates and becomes a successful citizen in the future.
How do you think USD 259 should respond to calls for more inclusion for LGBT students?
I believe with all my heart that EVERY student (including our LGBT students) must feel safe and secure at school. I am committed to making sure this happens in every school, and facility within WPS. This is why I asked the superintendent to research and bring to the Board what guidelines, staff development and policy changes need to be modified, changed or written to assure that every student is safe (physically and emotionally) at school. Dr. Thompson’s reports are coming to the Board each month.
One example of a change that needs to happen is getting a patch for our student information system that allows reports to be printed with a student’s chosen name instead of the given name. As the superintendent reports continue, I am looking for additional changes.
Each educator and staff person has to be committed to educating and assuring every student so they will feel safe at school. Our district must have guidelines that help our staff know what is expected, training to let them know what to do and then policy to raise the expectation to the highest level where it can be enforced if it is not followed.
What is your vision for USD 259?
Wichita Public Schools will prepare all students to be successful in tomorrow’s world. My goal to accomplish the vision is to help guide the new strategic plan from a new and fragile plan on paper to a plan that is “the way we do business and education” throughout USD 259.
I want to help oversee the strategic plan as it moves to a different level of implementation in four years by using data to drive changes. As a board member, I have to stay extremely engaged and open to making changes to the strategic plan and to providing guidance to the administration on when to push forward and when to pull back based on data from multiple sources. I have a strong education background which is extremely helpful as the board makes decisions. I understand how the district works and how the budget supports that system. I have been willing to use my leadership skills as a board officer 4 of the 8 years I have served as a board member.
I believe that every child deserves a strong school district that can prepare them for the future. I am committed to making sure WPS provides a safe learning environment that challenges every student daily.