As a Phoenix Union High School District graduate, I am proud to see the strides that the district has made in the time since I was a student. I also know that no matter how far we have come, we can go even further because our kids, families, and teachers deserve excellence.
As a board member, I want to focus on three specific areas: advocating for equitable policies and procedures; cultivating the community’s engagement to the continued success of our students; and making the board and its meetings more accessible to all stakeholders in the district.
Advocating for Equity
Student success should be at the center of every decision we make. Every student deserves access to the resources they need to be successful in life. Those resources will look different depending on the school and the student, and our policies should reflect those needs.
We should continually examine our policies and practices, specifically around closing the achievement gap, delivering high quality curriculum, continuing to move forward restorative justice programs, and providing teachers support in meeting the needs of all their students.
In my work as a School Success Advocate, my primary focus was to advocate for and empower the students that I worked with. However, the job required that I also be an ally to teachers, administrators, families, and other school partners. This meant that I was constantly balancing the interests of everyone involved in my students’ lives while at the same time helping guide everyone toward a common goal.
I understand that each person is coming to the table with a different perspective and a different set of experiences that inform their interests and their direction. As a governing board member, I will strive to ensure that we are hearing and appreciating multiple perspectives in our decision-making process, because all groups have a role to play in the shared goal of the overall success of our students.
A strong community of the future requires student success today. We need community members to invest their time and interest in our public schools and to connect our students with opportunities and resources.
Collaboration with the community was embedded into my work as a School Success Advocate. I worked with local businesses to secure donations, set up community service events for students, and participated in community events. As a graduate of Camelback High School, I have volunteered my time in the Toastmasters program, at alumni career days, and in annual canned food drives.
The communities surrounding Phoenix Union High School District are rich with resources and opportunities. While the district has made advancements in developing and deepening its community connections, there is always more that can be accomplished: We can and should empower leaders within communities by providing them with resources to personalize their outreach efforts to meet the needs of their community.
We must keep our community involved in, and informed about, our decision-making process. In order to promote equity and engage the community, we must be accessible as individuals and as a governing body. That may require examining ways that the board can adapt its policies and procedures to create a more welcoming environment while still adhering to state law.
As a School Success Advocate, I assisted families, school partners, and community members to navigate unfamiliar systems and settings: from Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings, disciplinary hearings, and parent-teacher conferences, to mediations, home visits, college preparation, and beyond. I know first-hand that sometimes it just takes patience and a plain language explanation to guide folks to common ground and understanding.
In the daily work of education and decision-making, we can sometimes get caught up in acronyms and jargon. We should strive to make sure our communication of policy and decisions is done a way that our parents, students, and community members can more easily engage with.