I am currently a School Counselor at West Orange High School. Prior to this position, I served as the AVID District Coordinator for 3 years here in Orange County. During this time, I provided support to teachers on how to incorporate best practices and learning strategies for students. In addition, I am a college professor at a local university. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, two Master’s degrees, and a candidate for my PhD.
One challenge for Orange County Public Schools is that many parents are unsure about our public schools. Describe your ideas for improving the public’s confidence in our schools and accountability system. Identify two other challenges facing OCPS and briefly discuss what ideas you have to begin addressing these three challenges.
I have been working with a lot with parents in the last 4 years and believe that one of the biggest frustration is the lack of communication (I do not mean the routine phone calls about school events). Parents want to know what is happening regarding their children’s’ education, they want to be certain the highest qualified teacher in the classroom, and they want to be heard by board beyond board meetings. It is imperative that we restore the confidence of our families. I know from my own experience that it will take a team to make change and not just myself. I am committed to making this change happen. We need to foster more relationships with our families, our teachers, and our leaders!
Many parents have also expressed their concerns with testing and common core. I believe that as a board, we need help foster a clear understanding why testing is used and clear up the misuse of testing dilemma that we may have had. As far as Common Core goes, we do not use Common Core standards, as a state we have created the Florida Standards. The Florida Standards promotes the opportunity for our children to develop 21st century skills such as critical thinking and problem solving skills. The Florida standards actually allow teachers to be creative and allow for teachers to develop innovative classrooms. What we need to make certain that allteachers are on the same playing field with understanding the standards and developing quality lessons. This is critical for our success!
Orange County’s student population continues to grow faster than funding for public schools. As the Legislature funnels more funding to charter schools and the choice options for parents expand, even fewer dollars are available to fund traditional public schools. What impact do you believe this trend will have on the future of public education?
We need to ensure that we understand why our families are choosing other options. It is because of poor communication among school and parents? Is it safety issues? Is it because of the lack of teachers within our county? Although these are tough questions to ask, we need to ensure that we are responding to their needs. I am not against charter schools but I am aware of there are one’s that are not in it for the right reasons. According Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, said. “There are some good charter schools — they’re engaging in innovation — but many of the charters are engaging in imitation and bringing nothing new to the game except plundering the public treasury”(March 11, 2016, Miami Herald). We can prevent parents from leaving by simply meeting their needs. If we do not change now, we will continue to lose families and ultimately funding.
What are three things “going right” for Orange County Public Schools? How will you continue forward progress?
The digital plan is going in the right direction. There is a strategic plan in place for this to progress over the upcoming years. It will be my responsibility to ensure the plan is being upheld if I am elected.