You asked, I answer!

These are questions I have seen or received via social media, in person conversations, etc. Please let me know if you have others for me!

  • What sets you apart from the other candidates?

    • ​​I am a veteran teacher with a range of classroom and school district leadership experience. I have a Masters in Education from Stanford University and would bring a point of view not currently represented on the board to discussions and decisions.

  • Why are you running for school board?

    • I am running for school board primarily because I have two young sons in the district and I want the best possible school experience for them, their peers, and for generations to come. I believe the school board would benefit from having a teacher bring a different lens to discussions and decisions, and I both recognize the excellence of the Minnetonka School District and see room for growth. I want Minnetonka to continue to offer innovative academic and extracurricular programming. I also want to ensure that all students are safe, valued, well-rounded, and prepared for whatever path they choose after they leave our schools. Excellence has a different definition for every student and we want all our students to have the support needed to reach their goals.

  • What are your thoughts on masking and COVID precautions?

    • I was a science teacher for many years and, as such, I believe we need to follow the science. I generally believe that following the guidelines set forth by the experts and their professional organizations (epidemiologists, doctors, CDC, MDH, AAP) is the best course of action. I know masks are inconvenient to some, but it is our moral responsibility to do what we can to protect our community and, especially, students and their family members who are at high risk of COVID complications. In terms of vaccinations and testing, I believe them, along with masking, hand washing, cleaning, and air purification, to be important tools in preventing transmission. Given that my ultimate goal is to keep kids in school and healthy rather than quarantined, encouraging families to test and vaccinate when able are steps towards that goal. 

  • Do you support CRT?

    • I believe CRT (Critical Race Theory) has become a totally political buzzword and that the vast majority of people discussing it don't understand that it investigates racism from a legal perspective and at an institutional and historical level rather than a personal one. It is also not part of the adopted state Social Studies standards. That said, schools and teachers should plan curriculum that reflects the diversity of our students and the world in which they live (which, coincidentally can also be abbreviated as CRT- Culturally Responsive Teaching). That curriculum will organically lead to discussions around the topics of sexual orientation, gender, race and social class and those conversations that ensue should promote inclusion, respect, and tolerance. This will look different in different classrooms but should be part of every grade and across content areas. In an elementary classroom, it might look like reading a variety of books with protagonists of different backgrounds: diverse racial representation, non-traditional families, LGBTQ+ etc. In a history classroom a teacher might have students examine primary source documents written by people with different perspectives of a historical event and discuss why the viewpoints may differ.​

  • How does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) instruction fit into our schools?​

    • Diversity education is most often viewed in the context of social studies (more on that in a bit), so I will start by saying that a DEI focus is required simply to align with the state content standards. For example, one standard in the draft 2020 MN Social Studies Standards reads as follows: “Recognize diverse points of view and develop an informed and empathetic awareness of how identity (i.e. gender, race, religion, and culture), class, and geography influence historical perspective.” While learning about particular events in our country’s history can create discomfort, I think it is okay for students to sit with that discomfort in a way that is both safe and without blame. That discomfort is what leads to meaningful change.  No curriculum should imply that today’s students are responsible for the mistakes of our past, but an essential part of growth is making mistakes. If we do not acknowledge those mistakes that have been made and are being made within our country we are doing our students a disservice as they go out into the world. For example, I only learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre and Black Wall Street within the last few years. Did it make me uncomfortable? Yes. Do I feel personally responsible for that event? No. I have a better understanding of hurdles Black Americans have faced and are facing. The social studies standards require many skills that build DEI, such as examining primary and secondary source documents, thinking about bias of authors, assessing which voices might not be represented, and examining how the context of the event might be impacting people involved. All of these skills involve critical thinking and may lead students to conclusions that differ from what their parents believe, which is both normal for adolescents (and always has been or we wouldn’t have phrases like “Kids these days!”) and part of what leads people to fear DEI work. I would hope that families would not only support this growth in their students, but also listen to what they have to say as informed and critical thinkers. 

    • Despite the focus on social studies curriculum and particularly history in conversations around equity, DEI education is not something separate to be implemented but should be embedded across content areas and at all grade levels with care. All our students need to feel valued and see themselves reflected in the curriculum. When diverse characters are represented in texts or multiple perspectives are presented around events, it provides opportunities for thoughtful dialogue. Culturally Relevant Teaching as described will organically lead to discussions around the topics of sexual orientation, gender, race and social class. Those conversations that ensue should promote inclusion, respect, and tolerance and provide the opportunity for students to develop empathy and agency. Unity will begin to develop when all students feel heard, safe, and valued.

  • Do you want to get rid of Advanced Learning programs in the name of Equity?​

    • No! I am committed to maintaining the Advanced Learning options in Minnetonka, and, if anything, would love to see more students able to take advantage of them. For example, if a student is tested and close to the cut off for qualification, I think teacher recommendation should be considered. I have no intention of cutting services or reducing learning opportunities as students need to be challenged in order to thrive at school. If we are seeing patterns emerge where certain groups of students are not utilizing these programs then we need to figure out why and remove barriers.