A Brighter future for Families, Students, and Teachers

1. Transparency - Parents deserve a seat at the table

COVID-19 has been hard on all of us. There is no fair way to measure the impact on each individual family. The initial response of the Olathe school board in March was wise given the uncertainty about the virus and the long-term implications. However, an in-person option should have been offered in the fall as the data suggested that children were not as negatively affected as other age demographics. A virtual option also should have been available for families who felt more comfortable with at-home learning. Parents spoke up — and the board didn’t listen. This comes down to the freedom and choice of each individual family.

Every decision we make has a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of our families in Olathe. Unfortunately, major educational decisions were made without the consent of the majority of parents in the Olathe School District. This is not a good way to gain the trust of your constituents. Looking toward the future, parents deserve better access to the leadership in the Olathe School District. The voice of parents in the education of their children is of great value in development of stronger relationships in our community.  A top priority of my campaign is making sure that parents are allowed back in the classroom at the beginning of the fall semester. 

Communication and transparency are two of my core values. As a concerned parent with no personal or political agenda, my voice is just as important as your voice. The divisiveness and divide in our district is a real threat to the future of our educational system. We have a responsibility to be the peacemakers and leaders that we teach about in our schools. As a member of the board, my commitment is to the parents and families – not special interest groups. The only way we can learn from one another is with open dialogue and civil discourse. Mutual respect for our fellow-board members and the parents of the Olathe School District is extremely important to a bright future for Olathe. 

2. Engagement - Learning that meets the needs of Students
We all know that we live in a “social” world that is constantly changing and evolving. And there is no doubt that our classrooms and teaching methods have also adapted over the years. From personal IPad’s for some of our youngest learners to Google Classroom for our High Schooler’s, the digital era has revolutionized our educational system. Most of these changes have been helpful for our students. However, studies show that hands-on engagement and face-to-face relationships are two of the biggest factors in educational success. Personal motivation and enjoyment are often missing from the modern-day classroom. According to a 2012-2017 “Youth Truth Survey”,  less than 50% of all students enjoy going to school. This number continues to lower year after year. There needs to be a growing awareness and focus on engagement levels as a marker of success and an explanation for student absence and failing test scores. 

 

Along the same lines, only 48% of students feel what they’re learning in class applies outside of school. More and more students find themselves distracted, overwhelmed with “math” that focuses on big numbers and very little understanding. Current strategies often miss out on the opportunity to see the growth and potential of each student. Students are expected to follow a narrow-path with very little room for exploration. When in fact, research suggests that creativity is the root of every discipline, not just art and music, but math, entrepreneurship, and science. Our methods need to be renewed to include real-life situations, from learning to sing your “ABC’s” to giving persuasion speeches in your US History class, and internship opportunities with our business partners in Olathe. In person learning provides the best opportunity to meet the growing demands of students. There is no “one-size fits all” approach to teaching. Real-life experiences are vital to the social and cognitive development of children, from Kindergarten to Senior Year . If we want to see deeper engagement, it starts with encouraging more creativity.

3. Prosperity - Every child receives an equal opportunity
Our students in the Olathe School district come from many different socio-economic backgrounds. It is important to understand their unique learning needs and provide adequate resources for educational development. We truly have some of the brightest and kindest people in Johnson County. As a Mom of two young children, I know what it’s like to want the best for your child. First, we want to make sure they can read and write. The pillars of any sound educational system. Without it, we cannot move to the critical thinking stage of development. A high percentage of Olathe’s students in elementary and high school are either below grade level for reading, or at grade level but require remedial training. We must have a better approach moving forward. Elementary curriculum that is heavily focused on the “Science of reading – phonics, and other effective strategies grow young learners to be confident writers. Studies show that students who are confident in their writing abilities are 3x more likely to attend College and graduate. 

 

  • Smaller class sizes provide students with more one-on-one time with teachers and allows teachers to get to know their students as people, learn their strengths, personal background, weaknesses, and passions. This creates a level playing field for all students and creates an environment where students are able to seek out more help.  Our Teachers are overwhelmed with 25-30 students. I suggest reducing class sizes to 18-20 and hiring extra teachers to fill the gap.