Tips for a successful school year – from ThinkMarin

Write it down!

Write it down!

We all want to hang on to the last days of summer, but it is time to get back to school. Shake out the beach towel, hang up the bathing suit and follow a few tips to ease into the school year.

  • Plan and reset your daily schedule

Slowly reset your own time clock. Move your bedtime and time you get up a little earlier each day. Find a daily calendar that works for you- it can be paper, electronic or a whiteboard- just use it! Schedule out your daily activities include school, sports/extracurricular activities, study time and downtime. If you are moving to a new school try to visit the campus before school starts and study a school map once you get your schedule.

  • Organize a Workspace

office desk in hallway and clever

Find a good location in your home to study and organize the space. De-clutter the work area and have supplies close by. Most important is to have a system to keep your work organized. It can be an accordion file, plastic folders for each subject or your laptop and scanner. There are many ways to organize your work- find your system and use it!

  • Get in the right Mindset

Review last year. What were your strengths? Where did you need help? Try to capitalize on what worked best for you and ask for help where you need it. Sign up for an organizational skills class, hire a tutor or talk with an educational consultant to help plan an educational roadmap. Getting extra support early will help you start of strong and stay ahead. Don’t forget to set goals for yourself and check them off the list!

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Is Getting Organized Your 2014 Resolution? Three Quick Organization Tips for Middle School Students

One of ThinkMarin’s newest team members, Ryan Roseberry shares 3 tips on how to get organized this year. Ryan has over a decade of experience teaching English and History at the middle school level and currently teaches 7th Grade Humanities and Strategies at Del Mar Middle School. Ryan is leading an Organizational Skills and Project Based Learning Class for ThinkMarin.

Welcome Ryan and thanks for the tips!

Schedule time to do homework

Schedule time to do homework

1. Schedule a time to do your homework.

You are the expert when it comes to understanding your own schedule. Based on any extra-curricular activities you have and when you get home each day, develop a schedule for doing your homework that enables you to effectively complete it. Select a specific place in the house where you are able to stay focused on your work, and decide what time you should start your homework and approximately how long it should take you. Depending on how you work best, you may choose to begin with your easiest homework, your hardest homework, or your homework that isdue the soonest.

 

2. Use a planner from the beginning of the school year.

Whether you use a paper planner or an electronic planner, having a place to

Write it down!

Write it down!

organize your schedule is one of the most important tools you can develop as a middle school student. Make sure you jot down dates for tests, projects, important assignments and after-school activities. Keep your planner updated and plan further than just one week in advance. The more organized your schedule is, the more you will be able to structure your time.

 

3. Always ask your teachers for help.

Teachers are your best resource for helping you get the information and guidance Teacher and Student In A Classroom At Schoolyou need to excel in the classroom. Learning how to advocate for is an important skill for middle school students to develop. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand, to go to the teacher before or after class, or to contact your teacher to ask for clarification or additional instructions. Though it may be intimidating at first, learning how and when to ask teachers for help can be one of the most effective skills you can develop.

Annie Fox on Kindness & Respect

Annie Fox is a Marin-based character educator and parenting coach. She is the creator of the annie_portraitaward-winning website TheInSite, which is a resource for young adults who wish to “take positive charge of [their] life.” She has also written several books, including Teaching Kids To Be Good People, Too Stressed to Think? and the ground-breaking Middle School Confidential™ book and app series.

Annie will be speaking Tuesday, November 19th at Del Mar Gym as part of the ThinkMarin Parent Education series. (Event details can be found here.) In preparation, we thought we would post one of Annie’s blog posts on the topic of kindness and respect.

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Kindness and Respect Challenge (Standing up for the underdog)

Kids and teens can view of themselves as powerless in a world where adults call all the shots. But that’s not the whole story. Kids have power. And every day, your children and mine get opportunities to use that power to do good or to do harm. Sometimes, turning a blind eye and choosing to do nothing results in more harm.

If we, truly value kindness and appreciate it when it comes our way, we can’t ignore suffering. We’ve got to do our part to keep kindness alive… every chance we get. And we’ve got to teach our kids to be kind. But how?

Child or adult, it takes extra social courage to exit our comfort zone and to help a vulnerable person. When kids ask me about standing up for someone who is being harassed, I tell them they should never put themselves directly in harm’s way. But I make it clear that there are many ways to help an underdog and let him or her know: “I’m not like the others who are giving you a hard time. I’m here to help.”

Fuel for Thought (for adults) —At different times we have all been underdog, top dog, and middle of the pack dog, so we know what it feels in each of those places. Being on the bottom, without support, can be terribly lonely. Think about a time when you felt like an underdog. Where did you turn for support? What response did you get?  Think of a time when you helped an underdog. What happened?

Conversations That Count (with kids)– Talk about the concept of a “pecking order” amongst animals and humans. Say this to your children: “Most of the time, when we’re not on the bottom, we don’t give much thought to those who are.” Now ask your kids what they think about that. True? Not true? How do you know? Talk about who is “on the bottom” in your child’s class. (Even kids as young as second or third grade have a keen awareness of social strata.) How do other people treat that child? How do you treat that child? What might happen if you stood up for the underdog?

Teach—Challenge your child to be a hero and shake up the social strata at school by standing up for someone who needs a friend. Follow up and find out from your child what happened with the challenge.

Please let me know how you teach your kids about the importance of standing up for the underdog.

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You can read more about Annie and her work at her website, http://www.anniefox.com/.

Meet the Candidates: Maya Tuve

Think About Your Vote

Welcome to our Meet the Candidates profile blog: An introduction to the leaders in our community running for school board office.

Meet Maya Tuve

tuve

Which Marin School Board are you running for?

MT: Larkspur-Corte Madera School Board

 

How long have you lived in Marin County?

MT: Our family has lived in Corte Madera for 4 years.

 

How many children do you have in this school district?

MT: My husband, Matt Carlson, and I have two children in the district. Ava, seven, and Anders, six, are proud Neil Cummins Hawks!

 

What are the biggest challenges facing the district now and in the next 5 years?

  • The transition to Common Core Curriculum and Common Core State Standards; though not unique to our district, this is a significant transition. Over the next 5 years, our teachers and administrators will need support as they guide our students in this change in curriculum and assessments. Neil Cummins’ Principal Leo Kostelnik described the hard work he and our teachers are doing towards this transition, equating the experience to a teacher’s first year.
  • The California funding model for our district is changing to the new Local Control Funding Formula. This change in funding will roll out over the next 7 to 8 years. During this transition and beyond, it’s critical that our district sustain fiscal integrity.
  • The addition of our newest school, The Cove School, which is planned to open in the fall of 2014. Thoughtful planning is required to prepare for its successful integration. Over the next five years, the Cove School’s facilities, teachers, staff, culture, and enrollment will be developing. Maintaining the connectivity across our two elementary school campuses will be important during this transition.
  • Managing the continued growing enrollment in our district and upgrading our existing facilities. While the opening of The Cove School will ease the overcrowding we’ve been experiencing, and many upgrades were made to Neil Cummins and Hall Middle School over this past summer, this work is only 1 part of a 2 part Master Plan. In order to complete the upgrades for all three of our schools as envisioned in the Master Plan, our community will need to pass a second facilities bond.
  • With schools and families on both sides of the highway, it’s vital to provide safe routes to all three of our schools.

 

What do you think are the district’s greatest strengths?

  • Our district has many engaged and supportive parents and a dedicated PTA.
  • We are fortunate to have talented teachers and administrators.
  • A strong foundation, SPARK, that brings parents and local businesses together in support of art, music, technology, and science integration in our schools.
  • A highly productive, thoughtful, and fiscally conservative school board
  • A strong leadership team. From our Superintendent to our Principals and education specialists, our district is preparing for 21st century learning and is headed in a positive direction.

 

What would you say are the district’s greatest weaknesses?

  • Funding. Our district’s funding has still not recovered from the many reductions over the years and from the effects of the recent recession.
  • Managing the district’s facilities, as enrollment continues to grow.

 

Why are you running?

I’m passionate about public education and I’m proud of the direction our district is headed in. I’d like to continue the positive momentum. As a School Liaison for Mariner Cove and as a Parent Representative on the Facilities Design Committee, I was an active participant in the planning process for the upgrades to Neil Cummins and Hall and for the new Cove School. My knowledge and background would be helpful to the successful completion of these remaining projects.

 

What do you feel you would bring to the school board that makes you unique?

  • My volunteer experience with our schools and in our community over the past few years has allowed me to forge good working relationships within our district. I have a clear understanding of what it means to be a trustee and the responsibility it brings.
  • I took part in the District’s Strategic Planning Session, focused on 21st century teaching and on shaping the district’s five year vision and priorities. This was a great opportunity to collaborate with others in our community, from educators to business people, about what the future holds for our students and how our schools can best support and guide them.
  • My professional experience is very relevant to the role of a school board trustee. I have 20 years experience in the field of architecture, which requires collaboration and strong communication with many stakeholders including clients, builders, user groups, communities, engineers, and local officials, all while managing budgets and maintaining a big picture vision. These skills would be valuable in the role of a trustee.

 

What would be your main goals as a trustee during your tenure on the board?

  • Sustaining fiscal responsibility for our district
  • Ensuring the best possible education for every child in the district: meeting each student individually, where they are in their learning journey.
  • Maintaining a strong sense of connection, between the culture and curriculum, of the district’s three schools.
  • Helping the district navigate the challenges posed by the transition to Common Core Curriculum and to the new funding model.

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You can read more about Maya and her campaign at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MayaTuveSchoolBoard

Meet the Candidates: Laura Anderson

Think About Your Vote

Welcome to our Meet the Candidates profile blog: An introduction to the leaders in our community running for school board office.

Meet Laura Anderson

anderson

Which Marin School Board are you running for?

LA: Tamalpais Union High School District.

 

How long have you lived in Marin County?

LA: 10 years.

 

How many children do you have in this school district?

LA: Two. Our oldest child graduated from Redwood last year. One child is a senior at Redwood, the other a freshman at Redwood.

 

What are the biggest challenges facing the district now and in the next 5 years?

Enrollment is projected to increase by 1000 students in the next 5 years.  In a Basic Aid district such as TUHSD, more students does not equate to more dollars/pupil.  The governance team will have to manage the budget in such a way that the fewest numbers of people are impacted and students’ learning remains the primary focus.

Another challenge is implementation of the Common Core State Standards.  This will require clear communication between and among the board, administration, teachers, parents, students, and feeder districts.  We all need to have a voice and keep the focus on what’s best for all students.

 

What do you think are the district’s greatest strengths?

The outstanding teachers are by far and away the district’s greatest strength.  They are led by a very strong administrative team and supported by excellent classified staff.  The variety of classes and programs across the district satisfy students’ interests and abilities.  Facilities at all 5 schools are in great shape thanks to community support.

 

What would you say are the district’s greatest weaknesses?

It seems to me that the lines of communication among all stakeholders could be improved. In addition, like other districts across the country, we face an achievement gap that must continue to be addressed.

 

Why are you running?

I am passionate about public school education; every child deserves the opportunity to learn and achieve.  I would like to play a role in that goal and feel I have the qualifications and skill set necessary to be a trustee.  I also decided to throw my hat in the ring because I feel we need parents of current students on the board.

 

What do you feel you would bring to the school board that makes you unique?

I have two children enrolled in the district, one a freshman and one a senior.  I also have a recent graduate.  Their unique experiences give me a very real feel for what’s happening in the district.  I have held many leadership roles in the community, including board positions at the elementary, middle, and high school sites.  Most recently, I Co-Chaired the successful 2011 parcel tax renewal campaign for the district.  In all of these roles, I collaborated with my colleagues, asked questions, listened to input, and balanced budgets.  The focus was always on “what’s best for the students?”

 

What would be your main goals as a trustee during your tenure on the board?

My goals would be to:

  • keep the focus on the learning and achievement of all students
  • improve the lines of communication among all stakeholders
  • try to narrow the achievement gap
  • maintain a healthy budget that is aligned with district vision

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You can read more about Laura and her campaign at her website: http://andersonforschoolboard.com/

Meet the Candidates: Andrea Pierpont

Think About Your Vote

Welcome to our Meet the Candidates profile blog: An introduction to the leaders in our community running for school board office.

Meet Andrea Pierpont

Andrea Sept 2010

Which Marin School Board are you running for?

AP: Larkspur-Corte Madera School Board.

 

How long have you lived in Marin County?

AP: Our family has lived in the Madera Gardens neighborhood of Corte Madera for 14 years.

 

How many children do you have in this school district?

AP: We have two daughters at Hall Middle School who started in the District in Kindergarten at Neil Cummins.

 

What are the biggest challenges facing the district now and in the next 5 years?

  • Ensuring we are meeting the personalized/individualized needs of our students in a changing instructional environment
  • Integration of a new, third educational facility in the district (Cove Elementary) and the assimilation of children, staff, community to this new physical location.  Attention to changes (cultural, physical) at existing facilities, too
  • Growing enrollment
  • Passing the second facilities bond to complete work scheduled at the three schools in the district
  • Support for all involved in transitioning our curriculum and assessments to the Common Core Standards and recognizing teachers need time for professional development
  • Sustaining fiscal integrity while adapting the Local Control Funding Formula
  • Effective communication with all of our constituents

 

What do you think are the district’s greatest strengths?

  • Desire to provide an excellent educational experience to all children who enter our schools
  • Visionary leadership
  • Productive school board
  • Excellent teachers
  • Involved and engaged parents
  • Healthy Foundation and Active PTA’s
  • Being adaptive to change

 

What would you say are the district’s greatest weaknesses?

  • Budget constraints
  • Lack of time for teacher professional development, especially, for example, during the Common Core Standards shift in curriculum, assessments, and instruction

 

Why are you running?

  • I felt a call to service.  I surprised myself by really enjoying leading the Measure A facilities bond campaign in 2011, it gave me a chance to interact with our school community, businesses, and resident community members more broadly.
  • I want to help the District with a smooth successful integration of a third campus in our district while not forgetting the attention needed at our existing facilities.
  • I have always enjoyed volunteer opportunities at Neil Cummins and Hall and working with the administration, staff, and students.  The trustee role is coming at the right time for me to serve and feels like the right next step in my interest in making a broader impact.

 

What do you feel you would bring to the school board that makes you unique?

Years in the district volunteering in the classrooms, interacting with teachers, serving on school boards, community work on the facilities bond, my keen attention and interest in how my own children enjoy/behave/thrive/struggle in a school setting, my interest in breaking down problems and finding solutions, and my genuine belief that we have an amazing school district and community.

 

What would be your main goals as a trustee during your tenure on the board?

  • Make sure we are always keeping the best interests of the student learners as our top priority
  • Be an active listener
  • Be an attentive learner
  • Be a thoughtful, collaborative, action-oriented member on a productive school board
  • Positively guide our District through the dynamic transitions we have right in front of us including facilities, state standards and curriculum, technology and art integration, budget, staff development, community engagement

Meet the Candidates: Nadine Aarsheim

Think About Your Vote

Welcome to our Meet the Candidates profile blog: An introduction to the leaders in our community running for school board office.

Meet Nadine Aarsheim

nadine

Which Marin School Board are you running for?

NA: Larkspur Corte Madera

 

How long have you lived in Marin County?

NA: 13 ½ years.  My husband grew up here.

 

How many children do you have in this school district?

NA: Two, a first grader and a fifth grader. I will have a child in elementary and middle school throughout all four years of the upcoming Board term.

 

What are the biggest challenges facing the district now and in the next 5 years?

We have many challenges facing our District, and most of them are due to factors not in our control (an rapidly expanding student population, a new State funding formula coupled with continued budget pressures, adoption of a completely new set of educational standards by the State (the “Common Core” standards) which will result in a complete overhaul of our curriculum and assessment process, to name a few).  However the good news is that our biggest challenge is also one completely within our control: creating a new, more inclusive and transparent decision making process.  In order to successfully meet the challenges we face, our Board will need to recommit itself to proactively seeking the input of its constituents, and faithfully relating the cost/benefit analyses it performs when it considers various courses of action.  The challenges our District faces require an “all hands on deck” approach to problem solving and the Board can’t do it alone.  We need to reach out to take advantage of all of the incredible wealth of human resources we have at our disposal in our community.

A more open and inclusive decision making process will also help us address another major challenge the Board faces: working to improve the morale of our teachers, which is currently dismal.  We cannot succeed as a district without the respect and trust of our teaching staff.  By including our teachers in the Board’s decision making process, we can move forward together in the best interests of our students.

Going forward, one of our biggest challenges is going to be figuring out how we are going to use the radical new classroom designs we are building with the $26 million in Measure A facilities expansion bond funds.  Creativity is good and the buildings will look great, but the question we will need to grapple with is whether function follows form.  Another continuing challenge will be managing growth; we are spending a good deal of the facilities expansion bond funds on classroom reconfiguration instead of expansion, which will become apparent when the new Cove School opens and we are immediately at capacity.

 

What do you think are the district’s greatest strengths?

Our District is fortunate to have an incredibly dedicated and talented teaching staff and a community that values and supports education in general and our schools in particular.  These amazing human resources deserve to be respected and trusted.  Studies show time and again that the factors that are most strongly correlated with student success are not teaching trends and classroom environments, but the student-teacher relationship and parental involvement.  For example, time-honored hallmarks of excellent teachers include their dedication to getting to know each student, their ability to set clear goals for students and their commitment to giving consistent feedback.  In addition, students whose parents are committed to supporting their child’s learning at home have a better chance of success.  The success of our students is dependent on our support of our wonderful parents and teaching staff, and we should never take them for granted.

 

What would you say are the district’s greatest weaknesses?

We have a communication problem in that there is a large proportion of parents and teachers who do not understand our Board’s vision for our schools.  The decision making process is not transparent, which results in confusion and frustration among both parents and teachers.  The good news is that this is easily remedied as long as we have Board members who are committed to transparency and communication.

 

Why are you running?

I was asked to by parents and teachers who are frustrated by a Board that they feel is uncommunicative and unresponsive to their concerns.  I decided to run because I care passionately about our kids and the health of our District, and because I felt I could make a positive difference by helping our Board reach out to teachers, parents, and community members who want to be involved but have thus far not been given an opportunity.

 

What do you feel you would bring to the school board that makes you unique?

Since the passage of the Measure A facilities expansion bond authorization in November of 2011, our Board has been overseeing the process of planning the health and safety improvements that were authorized by the bond at the Neil Cummins and Hall campuses, and the design of the new school on the East side of Corte Madera.  During that process, many members of our school community became frustrated, and were confused by, the decision making process.  Accurate information was not forthcoming from the Board in an accessible and timely manner.  Decisions were made behind closed doors.  It took an incredible amount of time and energy to sift through the information and misinformation, figure out when and where public meetings were being held, and generally decipher what was going on.  I began to reach out to my fellow parents by email, communicating information as I found it and publicizing public meetings and the agendas for those meetings so that parents had the opportunity to attend.  I started a Google Group as a forum where parents could communicate with each other and share ideas.  I received a huge amount of positive feedback from parents and teachers who appreciated having someone boil down the information for them in a form that they could digest, understand, and easily access.  As an attorney, a big part of my job involves just that: translating complicated legal concepts into form that my clients can relate to and easily apply to their own situations.  As a Board member, I believe that I will bring a fresh approach to communication to the Board that will help our constituents feel included and invested in the decisions we make.

In addition, my legal training has taught me the discipline of rational analysis: sourcing facts from original, credible sources; synthesizing those facts into proposals for action that encompass diverse viewpoints and a “think-outside-the-box” approach, and evaluating the appropriateness of those proposals utilizing cost/benefit analyses.  I don’t think my ability to undertake factual analyses is unique, but I think voters should consider whether the candidates they are considering have proven dedicated to adhering to a disciplined analytical approach to problem solving in the face of pressure from stakeholders to consider a limited range of options.

What would be your main goals as a trustee during your tenure on the board?

 

  1. Helping the Board improve its relationship with its constituents though increased communication;
  2. Making the Board’s decision making process transparent and putting practices in place that will make it easier for the Board to access input and assistance from community members;
  3. Supporting teachers and actively seeking their input and advice;
  4. Generating excitement about the opening of the Cove School by figuring out what we’re going to do at that campus and then communicating that information ASAP;
  5. Ensuring that planning for any future bond and parcel tax expenditures is done before we ask voters to approve the funds;
  6. Expanding our revenue base by looking for new ways to generate revenue and leverage the funds we have (i.e., creating facilities that can be leased to third parties).

Meet the Candidates: Karen Loebbaka

Think About Your Vote

Welcome to our Meet the Candidates profile blog: An introduction to the leaders in our community running for school board office.

Meet Karen Loebbaka

header

Which Marin School Board are you running for?

KL: Kentfield School District Board of Trustees

 

How long have you lived in Marin County?

KL: Since 2010

 

How many children do you have in this school district?

KL: I have 6th grade twins, Jack & Maddie

 

What are the biggest challenges facing the district now and in the next 5 years?

The implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is underway.  Last year, KSD introduced Math CCSS curriculum and this year will introduce CCSS in Language Arts and Science.  CCSS present an amazing change and opportunity for learning, as they dive deeper into subject areas and drive collaboration, creativity and critical thinking of the students.  The shift, however, presents its own challenge as students and teachers – and parents – adjust to new approaches.  The curriculum is definitely more rigorous.  The next five years will be critical in making the transition smooth and successful.

Secondly, we are finally feeling a bit of relief from the financial challenges of the past five years.  The State passed a new budget and legislation whereby local agencies (the districts) will be given much more control in how money is spent.  This is very exciting, as in the past, “categorical” funding dictated where monies be spent, whether those areas needed it or not.  There will be a state requirement for much more parent/community input on the budget and reporting back.

Lastly, KSD’s student population has seen a surge in the past four years and we expect that it will continue to grow in the unforeseen future.  The Board is working on securing a building on our property that is lawfully ours but is being utilized by the Marin County Office of Education for mentally disabled adult students.  The building would provide an additional six classrooms, enough to accommodate an entire grade, which would immediately solve the space issue with relatively little economic impact.

 

What do you think are the district’s greatest strengths?

KSD is known for its high quality teachers, instruction and enrichment programs.  The current Board has done an exemplary job keeping the state budget crisis of the past five years out of the classroom.  We have just hired a new Superintendent that promises to be spectacular – intelligent, financially savvy, a good listener and great leader.  Both our elementary and middle schools are California Distinguished Schools, not only for the high quality education that’s provided, but notably for our focus on developing children of good character and eliminating bullying in our community.

 

What would you say are the district’s greatest weaknesses?

Communication. I have heard it said that an empty parking lot at a school board meeting is a good thing, because it means that there are no contentious issues.  But that shouldn’t be the only reason for parents in the community to attend.  We need to do a better job inviting participation as well as explaining what we are doing as a Board.

 

Why are you running?

I believe that my experience in the PTA, Site Council and on a variety of committees including the District Strategic Planning, Finance and Be The Change Committees, provides a natural springboard to serving on the board.  I am passionate around public education and making sure that all kids in our district have the best education possible. Being on the Board of Trustees, working with really smart, dedicated people, gives me a voice for direction, on behalf of our parent community.

 

What do you feel you would bring to the school board that makes you unique?

I pride myself on my listening and information-gathering skills, able to sift through the “noise” in order to find the important nuggets of information to best guide our decisions.  I’m curious, and am interested in learning what other districts are doing that’s working well.  I have built strong, collaborative relationships with key stakeholders throughout the District – parents, teachers, administration and the current Board – and have a first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of the District so that I can hit the ground running.

 

What would be your main goals as a trustee during your tenure on the board?

My #1 goal would be to see the roll out and implementation of the CCSS in the most effective ways possible.  There are so many amazing opportunities for teaching and learning that will engage and inspire our kids in ways never before. I am particularly interested in exploring ways to enhance our use of technology to support curriculum in order to prepare our students for 21st century learning.

I want to ensure that our graduating students are motivated learners, compelling communicators and compassionate contributors.

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You can read more about Karen and her campaign at her website: http://karen4kentfieldschools.com/

Meet the Candidates: Susan Christman

Think About Your Vote

Welcome to our Meet the Candidates profile blog: An introduction to the leaders in our community running for school board office.

Meet Susan Christman

Photo1000386.JPG

Which Marin School Board are you running for?

SC: Larkspur-Corte Madera School Board

 

How long have you lived in Marin County?

SC: 20 years —so lucky!

 

How many children do you have in this school district?

SC: My daughter is an 8th grader at Hall Middle School and my son is a junior at Redwood High School. I am a huge proponent of the public school system.

 

What are the biggest challenges facing the district now and in the next 5 years?

Enrollment growth. Our district is already at 2017 demographer’s estimates of enrollment. We are fortunate that we, as a Board, have taken this issue seriously and our community has shown it’s support by passing a construction bond measure to start tackling the overcrowding problem. We have a Phase II plan in place that will complete the work we have started.  Additionally, the growing numbers also reflect a shift in demographic make up in our District that mirrors the demographic changes we are seeing statewide. We must stay laser focused on adapting our programs to best serve each individual child that walks on to our campus.

 

What do you think are the district’s greatest strengths?

Our greatest strengths are our responsiveness and outreach. Despite being the largest elementary school in the County, our teachers and administers have really risen to the occasion to serve our children in a nurturing and adept way. Our outreach efforts and relationships beyond the campuses with the greater Twin Cities’ community has also helped to create supportive, working relationships that are key to our continued success. We were also recognized countywide with the Golden Bell award for our fiscal management and efforts to reduce costs through our many shared services with other districts and municipalities.

 

What would you say are the district’s greatest weaknesses?

I think we need to continue to support our teachers and inform parents as we transition to a 3 school district and adopt the common core standards. We must continue with our concerted effort to empower our teachers and build on the great foundation they have laid for teaching our children. It is an exciting time full of change that can be unsettling to some and it will be important to keep working as hard as we can to transition as smoothly as possible.

 

Why are you running?

I was elected to the Board 2 years ago at a time that we were seeing unprecedented education spending cuts while our student population continued to rise. This Board tackled many issues head on and with community support was able to move forward on passing a construction bond, beginning upgrades to N. Cummins and Hall and breaking ground on a much needed 3rd campus in East Corte Madera. During my tenure I have had the opportunity to be part of a Board “team” that has built upon the hard work of our predecessors in a constructive, inclusive and respectful manner.  I am determined to seeing much of the work that has begun—through to its completion.

 

What do you feel you would bring to the school board that makes you unique?

I bring four very important qualities to the board:

  • 2 ½ years of experience as a trustee,
  • an appreciation that we have a limited budget and must maintain fiscal integrity
  • community outreach and relationships-my experience working with the greater Twin Cities’ community on important environmental and educational issues as a public policy advocate and attorney makes me a unique member of the Board.
  • an appreciation for the quality education our children receive and for how well respected our district is countywide.

 

What would be your main goals as a trustee during your tenure on the board?

Sustain fiscal integrity as we learn more about the Local Control Funding Formula recently adopted by the State. Ensure that we can accommodate the growing student population by passing a second construction bond to finish the great work that has been initiated. Continue to support our teachers as they incorporate the new Common Core curriculum into the classroom.

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You can read more about Susan and her campaign at her website and Facebook page.

Meet The Candidates: Sheri Mowbray

Think About Your Vote

Welcome to our first “Meet the Candidates” profile blog: An introduction to the leaders in our community running for school board office.

Meet Sheri Mowbray

 sheri

 

Which Marin School Board are you running for?

 

SM : Tamalpais Union High School District

How long have you lived in Marin County?

 

SM:  I grew up in San Rafael and only left Marin to attend UCLA.  After graduation, I moved back to Marin, to Mill Valley, in 1993 and then to Larkspur in 2000.  I love living in Marin County and feel so lucky to live here!

How many children do you have in this school district?

 

SM: I have twin daughters who are freshmen at Redwood High this year. 

What are the biggest challenges facing the district now and in the next 5 years?

 

SM: The biggest challenge facing the Tam District is growing enrollment.  The District expects to add about 1,000 additional students in the next five years.  As a Basic Aid district, funded by local property taxes and not by the state, that means that more students will be attending, but without additional funds following them.  The District will need to prioritize student needs more than ever. 

What do you think are the district’s greatest strengths?

 

SM: The Tam District is one of California’s top performing High School Districts.  The level of academic achievement our schools foster is extremely high.  The teaching staff is truly exceptional and committed to all students.   Students are not only engaged in learning, but also passionate about improving the world around them.  Finally, the community is tirelessly supportive of the high schools with its tax dollars.  

What would you say are the district’s greatest weaknesses?

 

SM: There seems to be some feeling of disconnect between the administration and the staff that definitely requires attention.  I am also concerned about the high level of drug and alcohol use among our students.  The figures show a problem among the worst in the state.  Finally, I think the district ought to be incorporating technology more.  Technology allows for more differentiated instruction, which I really think is key for learning and engagement.

Why are you running?

 

SM:  I have served on the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District for six years, including serving the past two years as Board President.  School governance is very complex and I have really committed myself to learning best practices.  I feel I have a lot to give, in terms of governance knowledge and understanding, but also as a parent of two daughters in the district.  The only board member who is also a parent with children currently enrolled is leaving the board and I think it is critical for school boards to include members who currently have children in the schools.  Parents have a front row seat to what is happening in our schools and see things from a very personal perspective.  Also, parents are most accessible to other parents in the district.  Above all, I care deeply about kids and education – and I enjoy serving the community in this way.

What do you feel you would bring to the school board that makes you unique?

 

SM: I bring two very important qualities to the board:  six years of experience as a trustee in a feeder district, and the fact that I am a parent of two students currently in the district.  No other candidate or current board member has the advantage of these two valuable qualifications. 

What would be your main goals as a trustee during your tenure on the board?

 

SM: My focus as a trustee would be to encourage the implementation of authentic, two-way communication avenues between the administration and the staff that fostered an environment of trust and mutual respect.