Q. What made you want to run for this office?
A simple act of obedience. Over the past couple of years, my faith has grown tremendously. My relationship with God has led me to make several decisions that are beneficial for the advancement of many people. We are in a transitional period of educational structure in Huntsville. As we move towards the future, there must be a Representative in office that will serve as the “Voice of the People” and not a seat holder alone. My fellow people of the North side of Huntsville are starving for representation that will be hands on with the students, parents, teachers and the community! I am the best candidate for the job!
Q. Are you capable of and willing to do the research necessary to ask questions about the policies, procedures and recommendations that the superintendent is bringing to the board for approval?
Indeed! As a member of the Board of Education, it is my responsibility to ensure that each decision made by our school system’s front office is cohesive for all districts. Through multiple seminars and various forms of communication I will work alongside people, businesses and educational organizations with experience in the related fields of which concerns may occur. I plan to shake things up. We have to observe much more than what is given before making decisions that effect an entire city.
Q. Do your children (or school age relatives) attend Huntsville City Schools?
Q. What is your vision for the schools in your district?
I plan to implement “7 Initiatives” once elected to the office.
The first is PROJECT FIELD EXPERIENCE: As long as we continue to cage in our kids, we can not expect them to act anything less than inmates. We must expose students to multiple field trips. By educating them in more arenas than just the classroom, students will then begin to find interest in future careers as well learn “out of school responsibility.”
Second is PROJECT CONSTRUCTION: We must bridge the transitional gap between Pre-K and Elementary, Elementary and Middle, Middle and High, and High and College. To better enlighten you, Freshmen in high school will begin Graduation Exam/ACT Training; Sophomores will be instructed on selecting a major, choosing a college, gaining scholarships and receiving federal financial assistance; Juniors will do numerous college tours; and Seniors will be trained of how to adjust to and handle the new educational demand that the college life entails, Seniors will also learn how to balance the newly acquired social independence granted to undergraduates and graduating in a timely fashion.
Third is PROJECT DOUBLE TROUBLE: Teen pregnancy has sky rocketed in the past decade, particularly in District 1. We must now work against “Babies having Babies”. As a community we will re-instill the fear of bringing emotional and physical hardships into the homes of families, with the birth of another life. We will educate teen parents on how to manage school and parenthood. And from the middle school entry, students will learn the true responsibility of caring for another life and the struggle that will present itself because of unthoughtful timing.
Fourth is PROJECT CPR (COMMUNITY PRESERVATION AND REDEMPTION): I feel the only way our scholastic communities will grow is when our general community is well informed, energized and prepared for all tasks at hand. We can not only train students and expect everything to go well. We must train teachers, administrators, parents, neighbors and businesses on how to work collectively in order to advance our people. Through these “4 Guidelines”: Faith in God; Uplifting Education; NO! 2 Violence; and Sharing, I know that we will accomplish anything that we set our minds to.
Fifth is PROJECT FELLOWSHIP FUNDS: As your District 1 Representative, I will call upon local officials, state officials, national officials, activists, community leaders, business executives, entertainers, organizations and various colleges to partner alongside with me in creating social functions that will be used as financial boosters that will fund field trips; award exceptional principals and teachers for their outstanding individual work with students; and a minimum of 5 scholarships for deserving and qualified Seniors. At this time our District does neither.
Sixth is PROJECT OPEN POLICY: Much of the reason for any ill relationship or project failure is because of a simple lack of communication. I will utilize door to door, phone, email, text message, YouTube, instagram, facebook, twitter, physical mail and any other possible social communication medium as a source to address issues and create solutions. I also will create a blog specifically for District 1 information. The first 25 parents each month that comment with an issue or concern will meet with me personally. This means that after 12 months, I will have sat down with 300 parents personally and tackled 300 specific issues.
Finally is PROJECT STABILITY: One problem that has surfaced in politics for centuries, is the fact that most elected officials rarely train individuals to replace them. Project stability is designed to create consistent and positive replenishment in District 1. I have already began instructing J.O. Johnson High School SGA members with the proper steps needed to provide positive opportunities for the school system. We will create an email server, strictly for District 1 information. This will prevent clutter in personal emails. This also will allow District 1 Alumnus with the chance to remain engaged in functions and activities that propelled their elementary and secondary education tenures. We also will create video resumes for each of the District’s students. These will be used for collegiate and career purposes.
Q. What is your plan for working with other school board members, superintendent, staff, teachers, community to implement this vision?
As far as school board members and the superintendent is concerned, I will constantly be in there offices with new information and anticipating material from them as well. I am a very personable individual. I hope that we will organize regularly scheduled meetings that will be away from the office. This should allow us to observe our multiple personalities and gain a greater understanding on how we each make decisions. For all others, it is the simple implementation of the 6th Initiative “Project Open Policy”. Communication will be key in advancing any idea, platform or project that is constructed.
Q. What is your view on high-stakes standardized testing, and the use of those test results for the evaluation of teachers?
By joining several organizations, I learned that some of the most productive people in life have not always had the greatest GPA’s or test taking skills. I feel that our exams should be comprised of fitting material contributed by the community, teachers and our state education officials. Seeing that the state is proposing dismissal of AYP, I highly anticipate their (Alabama State Department of Education) solution. As we progress, so should our evaluations. Too many times, I feel that teachers are criticized for things that are out of their control. As a native Mobilian, I can remember several students being held back until they met the required standards. Here in Huntsville, students are just advanced to the next grade level after a certain age. We can not fault a 10th grade English teacher, who the majority of the time works with students on a grade 6 reading level. We must consider: syllabus outlines, projects, societal evaluations and classroom behavior as well.
Q. What is your view on how the district’s limited funding should be divided among the needs of the district?
I feel that it is imperative we fund the “7 Initiatives”, this will open doors for all ideas. Each concern can be categorized with one of the Initiatives. I will encourage all principals to submit a “Needs Form” which will illustrate all the desires and concerns of each particular school. From this point we will divide funds amongst alerts that are most needed. However, I plan to develop relationships with several businesses, that will fund our ideas and necessities. With the support of the community, monetary issues will not be a problem.
Q. What is your view on the superintendent’s plans to close, consolidate, “turn around”, and “restart” many of the schools in our district?
Honestly, it is not in my discretion to comment on the superintendents plans. However as a member of the school board, I will be an advocate for keeping schools and equalizing demographic lines. Each school is unique in it’s own way. We must work to preserve the history of Huntsville’s scholastic institutions. Besides, we are waisting money on security, utilities and upkeep when we close a building, but still keep it’s responsibility on our records and finance books. This also places jobs at risk and creates difficult situations for families. We simply must learn to make the best of what we have, by providing an opportunity for everyone to grow equally.
Q. What is your view of the role that parents and the community should play in the governance of schools?
As described in the “7 Initiatives”, parental and community involvement are both imperative. Their (parents and the community) responsibility, includes suggesting activities, accumulating funds, positive solicitation, instilling student discipline and communicating actively with teachers and administrators. Parents in particular must understand that the home is the first classroom. Community members must support one another and create beneficial atmospheres for our kids to be raised in.
Jennifer is the creator and co-editor of Rocket City Mom. She is also a compulsive writer, avid reader, occasional singer and former communications wizard turned toddler wrangler. You can often spot her and her little ones cruising the kiddie hot-spots in their "Rocket Van".