Harrisonburg City Public Schools School Board
1. Why are you seeking election/re-election; and if successful, what are your three primary goals and how do you propose to address them?
I look to become a member of the HCPS School Board because I care deeply about our community's future. I moved to Harrisonburg 17 years ago to attend graduate school at James Madison University in the clinical mental health program. As I moved into the professional world, working in early intervention with at-risk students in Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County schools, I saw first-hand that our community has a beautiful diversity within it, but that not all are given the same opportunities. Many years later when our own children began school I was fortunate to have time and energy to devote to supporting our children and their schools through volunteering and leadership in the PTO. Again, I was given the chance to understand the day to day lives of some of our student population, and to see where they struggle and where they could use extra support. I believe that our city's youth determine the direction of our community as a whole, and therefore would like to give them every opportunity to grow as enlightened, caring, and responsible citizens.
One overarching theme I would like to see aided through my activity on the school board is to provide deeper mental and emotional support to many of our students. Many young students face challenges most adults would not know how to approach; an increase in mental health support through an increase in school counselors, psychologists, social workers, and family outreach would lift students and families so that students can return their focus to their larger goals of academic achievement.
As the time that kids are in school makes up most of their day, the environment that they learn in makes a large impact on their ability to accomplish academic work. I look forward to continuing the path of the current school board that voted unanimously to build a second high school to alleviate the overcrowding at our high school. The overcrowding greatly impacts the health and welfare of the students, faculty, and staff at HHS, and building a second high school with a focus on the educational process needed for secondary education will be a top priority for school board members.
Staff recruitment and retention is of great importance to me. The faculty and staff of the Harrisonburg City Public Schools show their commitment to excellence, care for their students, and drive to see success in every student. Just today I received a note from our youngest daughter's teachers asking what extracurricular activities the students participate in as they want to support their students outside of school as well as in the classroom. We need to retain teachers that go above and beyond; we all know that every extra hour we spend at our job is an extra hour away from our families, and it is not the exception for HCPS faculty and staff to do this for their students. I look forward to participating in the search for a new superintendent, as they will lead by example for the rest of the HCPS system. I would like to see smaller class sizes, more teaching assistants in classrooms, and more opportunities for life balance and self-care for our educators.
2. The health of our area economy is always a concern to REALTORS®. What will you do to advocate for economic development and small businesses?
As previously mentioned, I believe a well-educated population is what drives a community, and it sets the standards for what we should expect of our community members. We are fortunate to have multiple colleges and universities in our community that lead by example through volunteering. Our students in elementary school recognize that there is room for personal, academic, and economic growth through education, and later our high school students partner with businesses through mentoring programs and internships to get a feel for what is available to them upon graduation. Entrepreneurs are grown from creativity. Giving students the chance to take part in mentoring programs, and internships is crucial, and so is the opportunity to take classes in STEM and the arts where creative thinking is expected and rewarded. These learning opportunities give way to our future community leaders and small business owners.
3. Affordable housing is a major concern for many area families. What do you support to help ease the housing crunch for local workforce families, and are there any steps that government can take to alleviate homelessness?
Affordable housing is a serious concern for many families with children in HCPS. We have seen the trend in building housing for our college student population, only to be eventually discarded in lieu of the newest amenity at the next student housing complex. Many HCPS families live in these communities intended for student housing. For years I have routinely read Scott Rogers' blogs on local housing, and it seems as though student housing and multi-family housing has been the priority for developers for decades. This system does not leave much room for families to enter into the housing market at a variety of housing levels. I hope that everyone working in local government is familiar with ALICE and the research available through United Way, and are looking to make changes to the housing practices in Harrisonburg. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the school board is able to create any type of policy to change housing deficits, despite the significant impact it has on the students that are taught within our community.
4. Fair Housing programs are critical to a community because they provide an opportunity to those that face resistance to residency with an opportunity to secure a home. How can we work together to incorporate fair housing programs into the area?
As stated above, the local school board's role is not so broad to be able to tackle housing-related concerns.
5. As an Association representing 400 REALTOR® and affiliate members who live and work in the community, what role do you see HRAR playing in housing issue discussions and how can the Association work with you to improve the community?
As an individual member of our community, I would like to see HRAR advocate for diverse housing options for our community. As a school board member, this would be beyond the scope of my work.
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