1. What are your thoughts on reinstating student resource officers in our schools?
I have worked both as a teacher and administrator from elementary to high school levels. While an administrator in South Carolina, our middle school was assigned a full- time police officer. We needed the officer’s services more often than one would hope. When those services were called upon we were more than happy to have his help.
When I arrived in Sherwood 16 years ago I was asked to run the Summer School Institute. At that point there was no officer at Sherwood Middle however one had been assigned to Sherwood High. Over the course of my time in the system here I concluded that the community did not need an officer at the middle school level or below. However, events at the high school, particularly during my first summer in the system, convinced me of the need of an officer at the high school level.
I would like to believe that students in our community will always be safe and that our schools need no additional protection. The unfortunate reality is that we need to do more to protect children than just hope. I support the placement of a student resource officer at the high school level.
2. Share with us your thoughts on diversity, equity and inclusion in the schools. How are students impacted and what can be done to allow all students to learn and thrive in school?
My experiences relating to the challenges surrounding diversity come from my years as a teacher and administrator in South Carolina. There, the challenges were about equalizing opportunities offered by one school versus a different school within the same system. There, the problem was resolved by the formation of magnet schools.
In Sherwood our diversity issues do not revolve around opportunities being greater or lesser in one school within the district compared to another. We are a predominant white culture community and our kids will be well-served to have greater understanding, exposure, and learning opportunities to understand racism, discrimination, as well as positive traditions of other cultures.
What I have noticed within our district is teachers having to deal with entirely too many students in the classroom. When class sizes are too large the needs of some are not addressed. In order to effectively respond to challenges surrounding inclusion we must reduce class sizes or hire additional in-class staff members to ensure that the needs of all are identified and met.
3. How and to what extent should religious and political expression be allowed in schools?
The last few years has witnessed an explosion of political polarization. While a student does not nor should not give up their constitutional right to freedom of expression when they walk through the schoolhouse door, there is a responsibility to respect the rights and opinions of others. This is a lesson our schools should teach.
While public schools need to recognize the requirements of separation of church and state, tolerance of beliefs and traditions of others must be upheld.
Teachers are a formative force in a child’s life. Students look up to their teachers. It should be the role of schools to simultaneously foster open discussion all-the-while avoiding the creation of a platform for indoctrination.
4. What changes, if any, would you make to the current curriculum and why?
In the era of Covid has created a “current curriculum” which has balanced too much of the load of education on the shoulders of parents. Parents do not have the time, training, education or even patience to match the needs of their homebound students. When in-person classes resume, teachers need to continue to use the new-found technologies and skills to continue an enhanced level of communication with parents. However, the burden of teaching should shift back to teachers, not parents. School work needs to be done in school rather than sent home to become the responsibility of parents to monitor. To meet the needs of all students we may need to establish after school programs free of charge to assist students with completion of their homework. The curriculum is solid, and I don’t find any glaring gaps. We are all just anxious to have kids back in front of our strong teaching staff.