Supporting a Vision for the Future
Education today is completely different then it was when I was in school and even then it was 5 years ago. When I reflect back on going to school I remember sitting in desks in a class and listening to a teacher lecture from the front of the classroom. We might occasionally do some group work, work independently, or watch a video but for the most part we were being taught a predictable curriculum by teachers. At the time, I thought that is the way education would always be.
Just as society is evolving though, so is education. As a noneducator, (meaning I have not been trained in education) this has been a huge wakeup call for me. When my children were little I pictured them having the exact same educational experiences I had. This might have been naive of me but I did not know there was anything different. Teachers though are well aware of this change. As I recently heard in a presentation, education is no longer about teaching answers but teaching questions. To develop learners that are ready to tackle the world they need to know the questions that need to be asked and answered. Teachers have to give them the foundation to find the answers but the key is getting them to see the question.
My goal is to ensure that this happens. Two of my campaign platforms are built on this idea. First we need to encourage MASD’s continued support of technology in the classroom and support having technology available to every student. Technology broadens our students world far beyond the walls of MASD, Pennsylvania, and even the United States. Because of technology, the kids are able to work and collaborate with students all over the world. In addition, students can use technology to learn the lecture part of a class and then use classroom time to work on projects and real world application while having the support and guidance of the teacher. Secondly, we need to ensure that the curriculum being taught in MASD meets the needs of our ever changing society. We need to guarantee that students graduate ready to face the world as adults. This is a hard situation to be in because it forces our staff and faculty to predict the future. Society and technology is changing so quickly that it is hard to predict what will be waiting for our kids when they graduate. What will the jobs look like? How will they communicate with colleagues? What kind of training will there be beyond high school? What might that training look like? Instead of ensuring that the kids are content experts in “today” we need to ensure that they can tackle society as it will be.
We are lucky enough to live in a district that sees this as an issue and realizes how the world looks for our students now and how it will likely look different when they graduate. Last year our district developed a district wide vision statement that says, “”A Learning Community: Inspired to explore and empowered to innovate.” The school district takes this vision very seriously and we must have a school board that is supportive of this. The school board also has to realize that education must be met with an open mind. A school board member in MASD has to be willing to trust the instincts of the teachers and administrators because we have an amazing, relevant staff. As a member of the school board, it is not my responsibility to tell teachers how to educate but instead to ensure that they have the resources they need and are producing prepared community members. In addition, I think it is a school board member’s job to sell the product. The school board serves as a link between the community and the school and just as it is expected that a school board member will express the community concerns to the district administration, the school board also has to show the community what is happening in our district. I have heard the middle school principal say over and over again that the community deserves to know the product that is being developed in our school. They deserve to know what is being taught in the classroom, how it has changed, how it will still change, and how prepared these students are for the real world. This is not about looking at test scores, etc… but it is about looking at what these students are doing in the classroom on a daily basis. I take that responsibility very seriously and if elected will work to communicate this to all community members as much as possible.
I am well prepared to face the business side of school board but most excited about the opportunity to see the students we are developing and encouraging in MASD.