Q: What role do you believe Pittsburgh Public Schools plays in preparing every child to be successful by the time they arrive at kindergarten? And how will you partner with local government, community organizations, and private childcare centers to ensure more children have access to high-quality Pre-k and child care?
A: I believe that Pittsburgh public schools should facilitate dialogues with early childhood learning providers, offer multimedia content for daycare teachers to learn about standards for kindergarten, and host workshops where early childhood learning teachers and leaders can learn about how to align their curriculum with kindergarten readiness standards according to the state of Pennsylvania. As a board member I would create an inter-learning council where these objectives could be implemented. The purpose of the council is to ensure ongoing dialogue and engagement that ensure all students are ready to learn in kindergarten.
Q: Superintendent Dr. Hamlet has started the Student Advisory Council to incorporate student voice into district decision making. How will you promote student voice into the Board’s decision making process?
A: I am calling for the “11th Seat”, which means that junior and senior would be voting members on the board. In the past, students were to be seen and not heard. Now, students have voice as advisors, but they are not given a vote to influence decision-making on the Board level. Giving students a vote on the board provides them opportunity to be active-participants in their school district. When students are involved in co-creating policy, their involvement assist in developing new structures and opportunities which speak directly to the needs, interests, and dreams of students.
Q: What are your top three priorities to improve the district?
A: In addition to student participation as voting members on the school board, my other priorities are: parent power, teacher autonomy, and diversity and inclusion. First, I want to support parents in actualizing their power as active participants in developing and implementing policy and initiatives on the school and district levels. Second, I will propose actions that will provide teachers with the opportunities to collectively develop innovative learning experiences for PPS students. Third, I will introduce and support existing strategies to eradicate the achievement gaps based on race and class.
Q: What are three things the district is doing well and how will you build on that?
A: I applaud the district for providing structures to facilitate input and insight from parents, students, community members. These productive platforms include the Parent School Community Council, PPS Student Voice, and the Equity Office. As a school board member, I would transform existing structures from advisory to participatory, which means that students and parents who are serving in PPS Student Voice, the Parent School Community Council, and the Equity Office, will have a direct path to engage with the School Board. Creating this path strengthens the power of these structures to shape the development and implementation of district wide policy. This direct policy path further democratizes the educational policy process.
Q: Teachers are the district’s greatest resource, how will you ensure that teachers and supports are distributed to the students with the most need?
A: If Pittsburgh Public Schools are going to be the best destination for families in the city, then we have to invest in our teachers. This investment should take form in teachers enrolling in innovative workshops and accredited programs that focus on student achievement. Enrolling in these programs would provide teachers with knowledge and practices to best serve students in need. Moreover, teachers would be given the autonomy to design interventions to meet their students’ needs.
Q: Teaching in Pittsburgh Public Schools is a great opportunity. As a board member how will you promote teaching in the district so that we attract high quality diverse teachers?
A: I would work with local foundations and universities to propose initiatives for a more diverse teaching faculty. In addition, I would use my talent and time to attend local, regional, and national job fairs to recruit the best and brightest minds to teach in Pittsburgh. I would give special attention to job fairs hosted at Historically Black Colleges and Universities that offer high quality educational programs.
Q: School Safety is always a top priority, and part of that is creating a welcoming and safe environment. How will you work to equally advance the psychological and physical safety of students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, immigrants and refugee students?
A: I would meet with students from these respective communities to listen to their concerns, understand their needs, and encourage these student communities to participate in shaping a school and district culture that is empathic, kind, loving, and inclusive. I would support them in developing programs that celebrate their identity and culture. I would fiercely advocate for ways that the education system could better love and care for those who have been mistreated or overlooked by people or rules within the educational system.
Q: What is your vision of a community school? How will you as a board member work to create partnerships to strengthen our schools?
A: My vision of a community school is a place where parents, teachers, educational leaders, and community members all work together to create a holistic learning experience for students. Members of this initiative use their talents, skills, and cultural and social capital to provide children with the experiences that allow them to develop and pursue their dreams.
Q: What resources do you think schools need to better engage with families with limited English proficiency? How will you advocate for those resources?
A: We can better engage families with limited English proficiency by creating a champion program. This program would provide language and leadership training for a core cadre of bilingual community members. These individuals will serve as a liaison between the district and families with limited English proficiency. Moreover, working closely with community leaders and social innovators would draw from locally-embedded expertise to promote linguistic and social inclusion of our families with limited English proficiency, while also cultivating an appreciation of their language, values, and customs, which enriches Pittsburgh’s cultural fabric.
Q: What are the most important skills students need to be ready for life/ career? What will you do as a board member to make sure Pittsburgh students get these skills regardless of what school they attend?
A: I believe that students need to be entrepreneurial dreamers. With the changing needs of our global economy, the jobs that exist today will not be the jobs that exist tomorrow. When students are entrepreneurial dreamers they see problems as opportunities to create innovative solutions. Those who are able to create innovative solutions will assist in the development of a better world.
District 2 SCHOOLS
Pittsburgh Arsenal PreK-5
Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8
Pittsburgh Dilworth PreK-5
Pittsburgh Fulton PreK-5
Pittsburgh Schiller 6-8
Pittsburgh Spring Hill K-5
Pittsburgh Sunnyside PreK-8
Pittsburgh Woolslair K-5
Pittsburgh Spring Garden Early Childhood Center
District 2 Neighborhoods
Parts of East Liberty
Parts of Bloomfield