Employed by UNC School of Dentistry
Resident of Chapel Hill/Carrboro for 27 years
1) Given the current direction of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education, would you say things are generally on the right course? If not, what specific, major changes you will advocate if elected?
Yes, I do believe the district is moving in the right direction.
2) Please identify the three most pressing issues the school system faces and how you will address them.
Reduced funding for public schools, older facilities requiring renovation and teacher recruitment/retention/professional development are major issues facing the district.
3) What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a member of the Board of Education? If you’ve identified specific issues above, what in your record has prepared you to be an effective advocate for them?
As a school board member for the past 9 years, I have advocated for budgets and requests for funding that align with our goals. I also advocated for these goals to be child-centered. In recent years my work on the board has included advocating for funding to renovate our older facilities. I have supported efforts of administration to strengthen their recruitment efforts as well as their efforts to provide mentoring and support to our novice teachers.
4) Please give one specific example of something you think the Board of Education has done wrong or that you would have rather done differently in the last year. Also, please tell us the single best thing the town has done during that span.
Timely communication to families and other stakeholders can be challenging for a district such as ours. Administration has been thoughtful in how it communicates with its stakeholders whether it be via the district website, news outlets or social media. I do recognize that the district website may not be easy for all readers to navigate. For this reason I regularly inquire about user friendly features of the website. There is a perception among stakeholders that some communications from the district are not always timely. But what may be seen as a delay is oftentimes the administration's efforts to fully investigate an issue and/or protect confidential information but before sharing with stakeholders.
6) The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. If elected, how will your service in office help further that goal?
I will further the goal of the Indy by continuing to advocate for district operations and delivery of services that are fair and equitable.
7) While North Carolina lawmakers have approved some modest raises for teachers in recent years, teacher pay continues to lag behind most states in the country. What would you do as a local school board member to offer incentives for high-quality teachers to remain in the school system? Please offer specifics.
Currently the district is fairly competitive with salaries compared to its neighboring counties, including the local supplement. In the past the district has offered bonuses to perspective hires in hard to fill positions such as math and science teachers and Exceptional Children's Services. Unfortunately there is not enough funding to offer bonuses to all new hires. A new initiative in the district, Project Advance, will provide opportunities for teachers to advance professionally and be recognized for successful completion of certain requirements and student growth measures, among others. Additionally, I will continue to advocate to our state legislators for increased funding and supports for teachers.
8) Where do you stand on the ongoing debate over the Common Core curriculum in North Carolina? If you would support doing away with Common Core, please explain what you would substitute.
I support the idea of state standards that can articulate the high expectations of a public school education. I believe those standards should align with the standards of other states or be measured in such a way that they can be normed to national measures.
9) Orange County is expected to consider a $125 million bond referendum next year with the stated goal of paying for infrastructure improvements for local schools. Many school officials say that spending amounts to less than half the total needed for aging school facilities. Considering budget constraints, what kind of innovations can you offer as a school board member to help manage these costs?
I do support the bond referendum. We have older facilities that are in need of major renovation. I support administration's efforts to renovate facilities in such a way that they meet sustainability standards, improve safety, provide for more efficient work spaces and expand capacity.
10) Racial academic disparities are a perennial problem in every school system. Please provide fresh ideas you have for addressing this long-running problem.
Unfortunately there are no new ideas to closing the achievement gap. There are differences among experts and parents on which ideas will have the most impact. All would agree that any effort must be implemented with fidelity and evaluated for effectiveness. I believe the most critical contributing factor to student success is effective teaching. A second contributing factor is early childhood education, PreK. Meaningful, useful and research based professional development is how the district can better its efforts to closing the gap. Teachers equipped to teach the subject, to adapt teaching methods to diverse learners and to assess skills are the most successful. Of course there are the intangibles that the most effective teachers also display. These are a desire and ability to nurture a child's gifts and interests; and a belief that all children can learn and grow.
11) Schools in the 21st century face the task of educating an increasingly diverse student population. What about your background has prepared you to lead a 21st-century school system, knowing the unique challenges students from different backgrounds face in the schools?
My background as a healthcare provider and educator have both prepared me to lead a district that is as diverse as ours. Multicultural sensitivity and competency are important in communicating with students as well in developing lesson plans. I will continue to support a concerted effort to include teaching resources that provide a spectrum of resources. As I have collaborated with other board members, discussions and policy development have always been framed with attention to diverse populations and learner.