Thank you so much for your support. I am honored and humbled by how broadly the public embraced me as a candidate while putting on the miles in my favorite pair of monk-strap shoes. The response at the polls affirms what I heard time and again along the campaign trail as I walked throughout Prior Lake, Savage, and Credit River Township meeting the public - "I support you". I am beyond blessed to have that support. While there has been some discussion leading up to the election about which candidates were endorsed by what organizations, the most important endorsement I could have asked for is from you, the voters. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
Having taken two days post-election to rest and let the reality sink in that we accomplished the first milestone of winning, I am ready to begin the next phase of digging into the details ahead of Day One. Whether you are among the 5,966 who supported me, whether you supported another candidate, or whether you abstained from voting during this mid-term election; all of you deserve a School Board Director-Elect who is ready to work on your behalf.
Parents have a right and an obligation to be involved with the decisions that affect their children's education and the school board will make better informed decisions with increased parental involvement. That is why I absolutely believe we should break down barriers that inhibit parental participation.
How do we do that? By answering every phone call and email received from teachers, parents, and community members. By holding listening sessions along the year on different topics so that we ensure the myriad interested groups have a voice into policy discussions, visioning, and decisions before they are enacted.
Education is an investment in the future by the entirety of the community. Whether you have children who have already passed through the system, who are actively in the system, will be in the system or do not have children in the district, every voice deserves an opportunity to be heard. The school board needs to hear from you, to understand each perspective, and address any concerns raised. I firmly believe this is a basic tenet of public service.
Minnesota has a well-documented achievement gap. Minnesota schools face a shortage of social workers, school counselors, specialty teachers, and other support professionals. At the same time, we are seeing children affected by an opioid epidemic, homelessness, and other societal crises coming to school and experiencing profound barriers to learning and participating in classrooms in meaningful ways. The types of problems these children face are systemic and require people across a spectrum of organizations working together to develop meaningful solutions.
First, we need to advocate for more funding from state and local sources, and use that funding to hire more staff so we have an appropriate ratio of professionals to students supported. The problems our students are facing are bigger than any school district can be expected to manage on their own. These are societal problems, and as such they will need a broad coalition of support to help solve them. We need to build partnerships with the City of Prior Lake, City of Savage, and Scott County to get to the root of these problems. Yes, we need more counselors, more social workers, and more support staff. We also need more affordable housing, increased access to addiction services, increased food stability so students have enough nutrition to support proper learning, and to make efficient use of resources that exist today such as the Scott County Mobile Crisis Unit.
Children do not learn in a vacuum. They are parts of families, who are parts of communities. The issues facing our school systems are the result of issues facing our communities statewide. We need innovative ideas and new coalitions dedicated to improving the lives of our kids and their families, in order to improve our schools.
Are you with me neighbors?
To lead courageously with compassion and a servant heart, inspire others to live balanced lives of service, mentorship, and fellowship with all they encounter, and to act with integrity in all that I do.
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