I believe that building community within the schools and tying the school district more closely to the greater community is the best way to create happy, healthy students who feel safe at school.
I want to foster communities within each of the schools, in each of the schools, and in the school district as a whole. Being part of a community within the school–be it a club, a sports team, or an activity group–can inspire students to be able to speak up when they see bullying or other negative activities toward their peers.
Neither teachers nor parents can watch students everywhere they go, so we have to build the sort of communities within the schools that encourage students to make each other feel safe, whether it’s at school, online, or in the community with their friends.
I also think that the school district has ground to catch up in recreating a sense of community with its staff (teachers and classified staff alike). Without the staff feeling like they’re part of a community, they won’t know that the administration has their backs, and they can’t give their all to their students.
As we build all of these communities within the school district, I also want to tie the schools more closely to the greater South Whidbey community. We have such a vibrant community of craftspeople, artists, musicians, scholars, and experts that it’s a shame we don’t connect our students with them more often. When I was at school here, we did a great job of bringing in volunteers, connecting with local businesses, getting students out into the community, and making sure that we were a part of the South End.
These communities can not only enrich education, but also make schools safer, more equitable places for our children to grow and learn.