When we vote, we create change.

With your vote, we can reduce the division in our community and get back to the business of educating our students, while fostering an environment where teachers, students, and families are treated with dignity, trust, and respect. Our district is capable of excellence, and we must be laser-focused on surpassing those goals. 

I sincerely believe in the power of community and collaboration. My previous experience serving as a member of the City Council, followed by a term on the Planning Commission, has taught me the importance of sound policy governance. At its core, that is the primary purpose of a School Board...they create policy that drives student success and district excellence. With a wife who is a teacher, and a son who is a student, I fully understand the impact policy decisions have on the families within our community. By being engaged, informed, open-minded, and accessible, I believe I can help us in the pursuit of our goals in USD 231. By working together, I fully believe that we will reach the highest levels of excellence.

Together we RISE

Throughout the campaign, this has been the common theme in my printed materials, conversations, and feedback with families in Gardner and Edgerton. It is something I believe in whole-heartedly, and something that encompasses the small-town values we see in out towns. Within that theme, I have four specific priorities that I hope to have an impact on while serving.

RETENTION:  With teacher shortages impacting the entire nation, it is more critical than ever that we are engaged with our educators, and listening to their feedback. We need to make certain that they are never in doubt of their value to our students and district, and must display trust and faith in their skills within the classroom. They must feel empowered to create dynamic classroom environment that will best impact our student's success.

As we consider policy, we have to allow them to be part of the process, and listen to the concerns they might see in these decisions. This is not the time to make their work more difficult through ill-advised policy decisions. In this competitive environment, we must always be up to date on how our compensation packages compare to neighboring districts, and push to make sound financial decisions to keep Gardner as a destination job. Finally, as teachers leave our district, we must have a better understanding as to "Why?" and be ready to adapt quickly to identify and correct issues.

Within these retention efforts, we must include our para-professionals and support staff. They play a critical role in the day to day activities in our school, and are a key piece to our success. We must also understand their challenges, and work to make sure that they are part of our decision making process, and well positioned to make their greatest impact.

IMPROVE STUDENT SUCCESS:  This is wide-ranging, but critical. Simply stated, a district's primary function is to educate our children, and prepare them for success beyond graduation and the classroom. In reality, this takes on many forms. Specifically, I would like to see our district continue to provide more work-based learning opportunities that provide our students with hands-on learning in fields that might interest them. We have had these programs in place for some time, but there is so much opportunity for improvement. Partnerships with our local business communities, including our Union partners, can provide our kids with experiences that we are unable to match within the classroom. While expanding these programs, we are preparing these students for life after being a Blazer, and I stand behind those efforts 100%.

I would also like to see the expansion of our CollegeNow classes that provide students the opportunity to earn college credits at a discounted rate through JCCC. This is an excellent head-start for those students making college plans. These courses require teachers with higher levels of accreditation, which is something I would like to see more focus on in the hiring process...while also collaborating with current teachers who might like to fulfill these roles. 

We must be exhaustive in our collection of data while measuring student's success. We cannot rely solely on the scores from state testing data, and the simple measurements of graduation rates. They are the doors we have to open, and go deep in to the data to understand our deficiencies, and be prepared to make difficult decisions to create improvement. Of course these ideas are already in place, but we must push further to accomplish higher goals. When curriculum updates are necessary, and collaboration becomes more critical, we must be ready to react. I think that includes working together between buildings throughout the district to create cohesive curriculum that prepares them best for their transition to GEHS.

A key aspect of student success is student safety. In my opinion, without a safe environment for learning, our students are not able to reach their full potential. While this is a wide-ranging issue, the key elements are: continuing our partnership with GPD, supporting our Counselors, and listening to our teachers and the issues they are facing in the classroom. Listening is key, and we must adapt quickly when necessary.

STRENGTHEN OUR SPECIAL EDUCATION:  We must continue to improve the special education services provided to our students and families. While the information provided by the KU report provided incredibly valuable insight and highlighted our inefficiencies, we must push further. We cannot do that without listening to the families navigating these services, and understanding their difficulties completely. We have to push our state legislators to help us fully fund our special education services, and must find ways to fully staff these classes and support staff. The openings in these positions create critical deficiencies, and no stone can be left unturned to reach 100% staffing levels. This includes our para-professionals, and identifying how these positions can be better compensated to create stability and retention. 

Additionally, we cannot make these improvements without taking ownership and accountability at every level of our district organization. The School Board and Superintendent must set clear expectations, and have systems in place for accurate measurement. When weaknesses in the process are identified, then those with must be addresses with the person responsible, and must be acted upon in an efficient manner. We must own the process completely.

ENGAGE:  As a district, we must be purposeful, diligent, and dynamic in how we engage with our families and stakeholders. Absolute transparency must always be the minimum expectation in how we conduct ourselves. Engagement must start from the day a student enters our education system, if not before, and be a key aspect of the School-Family-Student relationship. Our parents play a critical role in the success of their student, and that relationship must be open, respectful, and thorough. Our teachers must have clear expectations in classroom communication, and our building leadership must be part of that partnership. By fostering those channels of engagement and communication early in the education journey, we will see our student achievements improve as they continue through their years in the district.