What is your background (family, job, hobbies)? I grew up in Pittsburgh, but first moved to Bradenton in 2004 when I started teaching at Manatee High School. I have also been a teacher at YouthBuild Charter School in Washington, DC and the Pendleton School at IMG Academies. When elected in 2014, I was a teacher of 11th and 12th grade History and Government at Manatee High School. I have a B.S. degree in Political Science and a Masters degree in Education.
What are the school district issues you feel are most important? In the short term, the search for a new Superintendent and resolving the dissension that has dominated the board this year. In the long term, stability and oversight of school finances (referendum funds for our employees and half-cent sales tax for buildings), continuing to move Manatee Schools toward being an A-rated school district, attraction and retention of quality employees in a statewide and nationwide teacher shortage and improving health outcomes for our employees and students..
What would be your priority to increase school security? Continued partnerships with local governments in Manatee County, in addition to advocating with the Legislature to left the burden of their underfunded mandate which left us with only one choice we can afford – school guardians.
What qualities would you seek in a new school superintendent? First and foremost, we need a person with deep knowledge of Florida school law and finance. With the constantly evolving and increasing demands placed on public education by the FL legislature, while at the same they funnel public dollars to unaccountable private and for-profit charters, our new Superintendent must have years of experience in Florida schools.
What do you hope to accomplish if elected/re-elected? Bring unity back to the Board which has been fractured this year. Continue to advocate for our employee health clinic, and school based student health clinics, with a partnership of local physicians and medical professionals. I will also continue to advocate, as I have done during my first term, that we reduce the amount of district-based testing, study moving school start times to benefit adolescent health and education outcomes, study the possibility of full-year school (as a choice, not mandatory) and, finally, to expand and promote our career and technical education opportunities for students and post-grads.
Why are you the best candidate? I have tried to be a consensus builder and problem solver during my time on the Board. I have been available and responsive to anyone who has reached out to me, across any medium. After four years on the Board, I have knowledge, through personal experience, of the challenges we are facing going forward and have overcome in the past. I believe I have the experience, in the classroom and now Board room, the right temperament, and a track record of being part of a team that has seen our school district begin to recover from financial dark days.