I Am Running for Forest Hills Board of Education

 I am running for the FHPS Board of Education and will be on the ballot this November! I hope to receive your vote.

A little about me: My family moved back to West Michigan 10 years ago. The FHPS reputation led us to make Forest Hills our home. My kids are in 7th, 9th, and 11th grades at Forest Hills Central. They sing and play instruments, participate in athletics, and are involved in many other extracurriculars. As a family, we are heavily invested in our schools. My own life has been dedicated to education - both for myself and for others. I graduated from Grand Haven High School and obtained my BA from Cornell University, MAs from George Mason University and Georgetown University, and a PhD from Georgetown University. I also completed a year of graduate studies in Russia. I have taught many students along the way - English language to Russian students, undergraduate and graduate students at Georgetown, students right here in Forest Hills as a substitute teacher, and as an Odyssey of the Mind coach. I love learning and intend to never stop. I want all of our Forest Hills students to have the same enthusiasm for learning that I have.
Why I'm running: I believe all students deserve a high-quality education. Forest Hills has always been a leader among West Michigan public schools. But even within a school system as strong as FHPS, there is room for improvement. If elected to the Board of Education, I would work on improving three things: Innovation, Inclusion, and Transparency.
Education remains stuck in a 20th century framework. We need to innovate more in the classroom. The state should champion this innovation so all of the work does not fall to the teachers. The factory model of education is outdated. We need to do more collaborative teaching, to flip classrooms, and to use technology in new ways. We also need to strive for our kids to have teachers that work with their individual learning styles. Not all students learn in the same way. The model of a teacher lecturing, students taking notes, doing homework, and taking a test works for some. If there are teachers who thrive in a flipped classroom style, students who learn better in this environment should be able to choose those teachers. If other teachers have a hands-on collaborative style, students who learn best in that manner should be able to choose those teachers. It is important to teach in the many different ways that kids learn, and match those learners with the teachers that will help them reach their full potential. We've also seen how difficult virtual learning has been. Teachers and families need flexibility in these times to teach in new ways and not be hamstrung by outdated tests and standards that must be met.
Inclusion is another aspect I believe we can work on in FHPS. FHPS has a Global Learners Initiative that helps foster understanding around issues of equity and inclusion in the advancement and understanding of a global society. This is a great program that encourages kids to think about the larger global society in which we live, but this program needs expansion. Topics of inclusion and equity should go beyond a workshop here and a middle school elective there. We should actively encourage our kids to be curious about the world around them and how we fit into the global community.
Finally, I believe I can help achieve greater transparency between the school board, Superintendent, and the greater Forest Hills community. At a basic level, the agenda and meeting minutes distributed before and following board meetings are so minimal that they provide little useful information. I would improve these so that the community is informed of what specifically is on the agenda and actively encourage parents, teachers, and community members to provide their opinions with enough time for the board to consider them before important decisions are made. Likewise, the substance of discussions and resolutions should be publicly available to enable the community to understand how and why decisions were made. It is the Board's responsibility to set school policies, but stakeholders should have ample opportunity to provide their input. If elected, I will be committed to ensuring that such opportunities are more available.
I love Forest Hills Public Schools. The teachers, the staff, the families, and the entire community that supports them make Forest Hills a great place to raise children. But we can and should be constantly improving. With your vote, I will strive to help all FHPS students fulfill their educational and personal potential.