Yes - A lifelong member
Parents are a child’s first teacher and most important advocate. A child’s success in school is greatly enhanced by a strong partnership between his/her parents, teachers and school. Parents and teachers working together share important information about how a child learns, the child’s strengths, interests and challenges. Parents provide critical insights into how to motivate and support their child. When parents and teachers work in tandem, children are more likely to thrive from a consistent approach that is well matched to their learning needs.
Maintaining high student achievement and closing gaps in spite of what will likely be continued tight budgets will be critical. We must move away from the overemphasis on high stakes, fact-based tests and move toward 21st century learning. We are preparing our students for a global environment where success is measured not by what you know but by what you can do with what you know. Our children must by analytical thinkers and creative problem solvers. They must be good communicators and able to work collaboratively with others. They must understand the peoples and cultures of the world.
Parents must feel welcome in their children’s school and in their child’s classroom. The teachers must communicate regularly with parents and respond quickly to parents’ questions and concerns. Parent liaisons are valuable partners for parents from other countries or who are not fluent in English. While schools and teachers primarily use electronic communications, they must also use more traditional methods where email, blackboard and KIT won’t get to a parent.
For the parents who are well connected through technology, they want teachers to use those tools effectively. They expect to see daily updates and quick answers to emails. Parents are understandably frustrated when blackboard isn’t used to convey detailed and up-to-date assignments, news and student progress.
Principals must be welcoming, easily available and quick to respond to questions and concerns. They must provide regular and detailed information about what is going on in the school from academics to events and activities. A principal who is open, listens well and reaches out to every parent is more likely to be able to forge strong partnerships with parents. While parents need to accept the offer of partnership, the first overture must come from the principal and the school.
The Superintendent, like the principals, must welcome parents’ questions, ideas and concerns. He/she must create opportunities to be among parents and listen closely to what they have to say. How well the Superintendent reaches out often determines the comfort level parents may have with collaborating with the head of the school division. An honest and open partnership, where parents are comfortable speaking up, lays the foundation for effective collaboration.
School Board Members
School Board members must be available and responsive by whatever means parents want to communicate. Making communication easy and comfortable is critical. Emails are fast and convenient – and must be answered right away. But telephone calls and conversations over coffee enable the Board member to better understand where a parent is coming from. Conversations about children, especially when there are difficult challenges that need a resolution, require thoughtful sympathetic listening. There is nothing more precious than one’s child. While a School Board member’s official duties are with policy decisions, those one-on-one conversations with parents, which are so important to parents, also help the Board member understand how each child is impacted by the larger decisions.
Again, as with other members of the school community, the best way to encourage parents to collaborate with the School Board is to be welcoming, open and eager to listen carefully to what parents have to say. Committees, task forces, open meetings, websites and emails are all important. But for all this to work the School Board must be the first to extend the hand as a group and as individuals. Parents will collaborate if they feel they are welcome and their voice is important.
A strong partnership with the FCCPTA is absolutely necessary. As a former president of the FCCPTA, I know how important the voice of the PTA is and the collective voice of the local units through the FCCPTA. The value of the PTA is that it is a separate entity from the schools whose mission is the wellbeing of our children. This independence is valuable. I wish for a strong, large and active PTA organization.
Yes, I will listen with an open mind. The School Board and FCPS must reflect the values of the community. The Board and the schools must change as the needs of children change. Over time, parents’ ideas of what they want for their children change. New concerns arise while others get resolved. Also, just because FCPS did something one way some years ago, it doesn’t mean it is the right way for the present or the future.
I will stay connected through all the available means—email, phone, meetings or one-on-one chats over coffee. If parents want an electronic letter from me with updated news, I would be willing to do that as well. However, I really do prefer as many opportunities as possible for personal contact.
I do answer almost all my emails within a few hours and return phone calls daily and will meet with parents one-on-one whenever and wherever that want.
My primary objective will be to maintain high student achievement, continue to close gaps, move away from overemphasis on SOL’s and place more emphasis on 21st century learning.
Smart budgeting that drives resources to the classroom while maintaining competitive pay for teachers and the professional supports they want will be essential to achieving these goals.
Immediate budget needs will be to reduce class size, especially in non-Title l schools, bring back summer school and eliminate the last piece of the athletic fee.
All children must have access to rigorous curriculum and be expected to achieve at the highest levels possible. Daily instruction must be flexible enough so that each child can be both challenged and supported. Acceleration, enrichment and remediation must be options for all children in every subject so that learning and teaching match the needs of each child and are flexible enough to change as the child grows and advances.
The higher level skills of critical thinking and problem solving, creativity, collaboration and communication must be infused throughout the entire curriculum. Beyond the core curriculum, interdisciplinary themes should be added to include global awareness, financial and business literacy, health literacy and environmental literacy. 21st Century learning calls for students to be effective and thoughtful users of powerful communication tools and technology. Students must be able to evaluate the vast amount of information and data available on the web and be able to use it to solve real problems.
Professional development, standards, assessments and learning environments must support and be integral to these 21st Century skills.
A critical first part of the search will be the community’s description of the characteristics they want to see in the next Superintendent. Parents, teachers, the business community and citizens will be asked to define the type of Superintendent they want to lead the schools. There will be focus groups, online surveys and as many opportunities as possible for people to weigh-in. This process needs to be deep and thorough. The right person for the times will be imperative. The input from parents, citizens, educators and business leaders will describe the “right” person for the times. Hopefully when the search is narrowed to a small group, the candidates will be willing to interact with the stakeholders in order to give more feedback on who the final choice should be.
The new Superintendent must be a proven educational leader, a business manager able to lead the 11th largest U.S. school division and have an excellent record for building strong relationships with all stakeholders—parents, educators, the business community and citizens whether they have school age children or not. The Superintendent must also have a proven track record for attracting talent in all levels of positions throughout the schools.
Candidates were asked to choose their Top 5 Priorities from the list provided below:
|21st Century Skills||Advanced Academics||Boundary Issues|
|Budget||Building Improvements||Changes to Disciplinary Actions -- Parent Notification|
|Charter Schools/Tuition Tax Credits||Class Size -- Student/Teacher Ratio||Collaboration with Board of Supervisors|
|Computer Technology in Classrooms||County Transfer to FCPS||Employee Benefits and Salaries|
|Family Life Education||FCPS Headquarters Staffing||Full Day Monday for Elementary Schools|
|Honors Courses||Immigration||Later High School Start Times|
|Minority Student Achievement||New Elementary Schools Standards Based Progress Reports||No Chlld Left Behind|
|Parental Engagement/Involvement with Schools||Real Foods for Kids Initiative||Safe Routes to School Program|
|School Board Auditor||Special Education Services||Strategic Governance|
|Superintendent Selection||Surveillance Cameras in High Schools||Teacher Morale|
|Transparency & Accountability|
#1: Superintendent Selection
The most important first task for the next Board will be the hiring of a new Superintendent. Finding the right person with the vision and leadership skills to match what the community wants and what the schools need will be absolutely critical.
The Budget: The budget is where the rubber meets the road. The budget provides the resources for everything and must reflect the values of the community: teacher pay, professional support, class size, needed resources to support high student achievement and 21st century skills, more time for student learning and healthier start times. Whatever important initiative the community and educators want, if it costs money, the budget must be constructed—and funded—to provide the dollars needed.
#3: 21st Century Skills
21st century learning: To prepare our children for success in the global environment that is their future, we must give them the higher skills they will need. Their success will be determined not by what they know but by what they can do with what they know. All children must have access to engaging challenging curriculum that emphasizes these skills. Implicit is a focus on STEM as well as a well-rounded rigorous program that includes a strong core plus the arts, foreign language and athletics.
#4: Parental Engagement/Involvement in Schools
Parent involvement: Parent involvement is critical to all aspects of student learning and success. We must constantly pay attention to strengthening the partnerships with parents throughout FCPS from the classrooms and daily instruction to the development of policies and budgets.
#5: Transparency & Accountability
Transparency and accountability: For there to be the strong partnerships so vital to the wellbeing of FCPS, all community stakeholders must be able to access and understand how their schools and the school division are performing. The schools belong to the community, and the community must be an integral part of all FCPS decisions. If the community is to hold FCPS accountable for quality education, the community must have the tools and information needed to do so.