1. Tell me about your personal background and your family.
My husband and I just finished our 40th wedding anniversary, and all that time we’ve been here in Siloam. We have two children, Brian and Korri, and all of us are educators. Most of my career has been at the Siloam Springs School District. I have 29 years of experience there, working everything from mostly high school mathematics for half of that time and then the rest of that time spent at either the middle school level or the district level.
I am originally from the Chicago area and it was actually John Brown University that brought me to Siloam Springs when I came to school there, and we just stayed and raised our family here.
2. What do you feel qualifies you to serve on the school board and what strengths can you offer the community?
I think my years of experience in education qualify me. I actually have a license that would allow me to be a superintendent, so you know I am aware of what happens with the board and have made multiple presentations to the board in the past. I’m aware of the schools and I know the community well, because I’ve been here a long time. I’ve had two children that graduated through the schools and my husband and I have taught in the schools.
I have a bachelors degree in secondary education — mathematics. I have a master’s degree in educational technology, and I have a doctoral degree in educational leadership, it’s actually P-20 (prekindergarten through college and graduate school) education leadership. It is a big spread, but it’s understanding the big picture. And I think one thing that I didn’t mention before, is that I do have the higher education background now that does add to my picture of education. I’m the head of the teacher education department (at JBU) and the director of the graduate teacher education program.
I think my strengths would be prior knowledge of having worked in the district for a long time, as well as, I think just knowledge of schools in general. I’ve had the opportunity actually to visit and see lots of schools across the state through working with the Arkansas Department
of Education, and doing things like school audits, where I saw some of the schools that were in improvement. I came in with a group of people that made suggestions that might help those schools, as well as going around and looking at middle schools that were up for an award. So I got to see some of the very best schools as well as going around on accreditation visits. Part of what I did was work with what they called north-central and did accreditation visits for schools too. 3. Why do you want to serve on the school board?
Well I think the community has been good to my family and I, and the district has been good, and this is just one way that I could give back. That’s what I’m looking at, just a way of trying to help. 4. What do you feel are the school district’s strengths, and what do you think needs improvement?
I think strengths are that they are always trying to look to “how can we get better;” always looking ahead to what’s the next thing that is going to make us a better school district. As well as looking at all students, trying to make sure they are helping each sub-population of students, the ESL populations, the special needs populations, and not just those kids who are going to college, but those kids that might want a career that doesn’t take a college degree and so the CASS program they’ve come up with helps address some of those needs.
The career technical areas are important as well, and I think they do a good job of trying to support all kids. I love the fact that they’ve even tried to work with kids through the Panther Wellness Clinic and trying to meet the needs of kids that aren’t just academic needs, but the physical needs too. What about improvement?
Well, there’s always places that you can improve, and I think our test scores show that we’re not the top schools of the state, so I would say, I mean, you’re always trying to chase that being in the top. We need to look at maybe what we’re doing in the classroom, not just to support kids but what are we doing academically to make sure kids are challenged. I think the idea that we want rigour in a curriculum, so I think we would go that direction. 5. What are your concerns with K-12 education in Siloam Springs?
I think overall I get concerned that we are doing too much assessment on the state level, and of course that’s a push from the national level. I think accountability is good, but we need to look and make sure what we’re doing is worthwhile.
I think that we are probably at the point in education that assessment is driving everything. It may be it takes so much of the time and the efforts on the part of the teacher, that it’s driving everything. We want to make sure that it has it’s place, but it’s not overpowering everything and I think that maybe there is too much emphasis right now on that. But I want to make sure we’re not saying we want it to go away. It’s just a little bit overemphasized at the moment. 6. What changes would you like to see made?
I think continued focus on the needs of all children. I think it’s important to continue to look at ways we can cut costs. You know, one of the things the district has implemented is… a program that watched how much electrical use we use, that the computers are turned off and the lights are turned off, that we’re not wasteful, and so looking at those things we can constantly be aware of how can we not be spending funds on things that are not benefiting kids.
It’s cutting costs in little ways that can add up to maybe having more money for field trips and extra things that are important to a kid’s education. I think looking in every way possible that we’re not wasteful and then looking for how better we can meet the needs of every kid. 7. What do you feel should be the school board’s priorities over the next term? I think maybe, again, looking for where we can be careful with the budget and make it go as far as it can go. I think there is a need for constantly looking to see where we might be having growth that we need to add on a building. You know, if we’re going to need to look at new buildings or if we’re going to need to look at a new school.
And then always looking to hire the best teachers. I think that’s real important. We compete with the big schools along the 49 corridor and we want to make sure we’re hiring the best, and getting first pick instead of coming later. 8. Is there anything you would like to add? I guess it would just be a real privilege to be part of the board, and I’ve enjoyed the couple times I’ve been there the last few board meetings. But to me it would be a real privilege to serve on the board. And I realize it is serving the community, it’s not my individual ideas. Although I do bring background to the job, it is the community’s voice.