Work: Retired teacher
Experience: More than 25 years’ teaching experience, including nine years teaching composition, History and comparative cultures at Fort Lewis College, five teaching high school students history, government, economics and English in California, and three years teaching English language learners at Navajo Community College.
How long have you lived in Durango?
My husband and I have made La Plata County our permanent residence for 13 years. In addition, my father and I owned and maintained acreage near the Dryside for 38 years, and my husband and I have owned property in Durango since 1993.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Family, friends, tennis, golf, yoga, biking, book club, arts/crafts, card games. I have a very full life and many hobbies and recreational diversions.
Why are you running for school board?
Having retired from teaching, I am looking for the best way to use my experience, education, talents and energy to contribute to my community. Education is my most notable skill set, so the school board seems to be an obvious choice.
What school board issues do you care most about?
Based on my observations of 9-R in comparison with other districts I’ve seen and in which I’ve worked, I believe “our stars are in alignment” – right now. We can move from being a good school district to being an exceptional one. The stars I refer to are: 1) the community, which showed its support and desire to be better by passing a mill levy to raise teacher salaries and fund programs that set us apart from most other school districts; 2) the parents, many of whom are deeply engaged in their children’s schools – notice, for example, the gardens and orchards that will be used by students for years to come; 3) the teachers and principals I’ve met, almost all of whom are working overtime, day after day, implementing new ways to teach. I am truly amazed at the level of dedication I see as I move around the district; 4) a remarkable superintendent with the drive to make things happen, even when that involves difficult decisions.
We shouldn’t waste this opportunity. It is uncommon – and fleeting, I’m afraid, if results aren’t soon felt by all. I believe I can play a part in seeing us through to the next level based on my commitment, experience and vision.
What would you most like to see change?
1) Addressing the apparent stagnation in our students’ achievement; 2) addressing the achievement gaps, as related to gender, income and ethnicity, without compromising the higher-achieving students’ education; 3) mitigating potential teacher and administrative burnout brought on by new demands from the government and local changes in assessment and accountability standards; 4) finding ways to increase students’ enjoyment in school-related activities; 5) Finding ways to increase community involvement in 9-R education.
Please list two ways in which you think Durango School District 9-R is improving and two ways in which you’d like to see it improve.
1) Student and teacher assessment, the first step in better teaching, is becoming more relevant and better reflects local needs and values. As part of this, I’m glad to see that educational teams that include administrators and teachers are working together more than ever for the benefit of individual children. It would be nice to see more community members join those teams.
2) There are a remarkable number of educational options offered to students, including: International Baccalaureate (IB) schools, Expeditionary Learning programs, the Big Picture School, Gifted and Talented programs, and partnerships with colleges and training programs in the area. District 9-R staff members are “looking outside the box” to find ways to reach every child’s learning style.
1) Ideally, I would like to see us use more IT learning software and hardware to help reach, assess and teach each student so we can move toward individualized teaching and to allow our teaching teams to direct their attention in a more focused manner to each student as needed.
2) Again, ideally, if money were no problem, I would like students to have more opportunities to learn outside the classroom - i.e. field trips and hands-on experiential learning opportunities. I see this being possible if we could develop even more collaboration with area institutions and organizations.
What do you think of the district using the traditional school calendar versus a longer or year-round calendar?
This is a question to be determined with public input. I have seen districts where year-round calendars worked very well – they keep students and teachers from burning out their energy and they also mitigate against the brain drain that happens to students over long summer breaks. On the other hand, year-round schedules are disruptive for families that have to coordinate child care and vacation plans, for example, and they make extracurricular activities very difficult to manage.
What do you think of Amendment 66?
If I’m elected to the school board, I certainly would rather have enough money to do the work that is needed to make the move from a good school district to an excellent one rather than spending board and administrators’ time figuring out where to make cuts. It’s important to remember that many of the State-mandated programs are unfunded, but still required unless this amendment passes. The question is, what non-mandated education will have to be cut if voters turn down the amendment. I will vote for Amendment 66.
How would you propose ensuring teachers are effective?
The teacher evaluation system that is currently being implemented throughout 9R, with its corresponding professional development and feedback should address questions about teacher effectiveness. Let’s try this for awhile; work out glitches if they occur, and evaluate the process later on.