Audryn Damron

Utah State Board of Education

District

8

What kind of support could your campaign use most?

Phone Banking

UAC 2022 School Board Candidate Survey Responses

I am a passionate teacher, a lover of the outdoors (and Utah has so much to offer!), a bookworm, and a neighbor and citizen like the rest of you. I studied Special Education at Brigham Young University receiving my Bachelors and Masters of Science. I taught special education for six years in Provo School District, followed by two and a half years at an inner-city high school in St. Louis, Missouri. I currently teach at a public high school in Granite School District and love what I do! I received National Board Certification for Exceptional Needs in 2020 and am a Utah Teacher Fellow.

Biography

Tell us about yourself: this could include biographical details, a list of hobbies, professional accomplishments, or anything you’d like to highlight.

I am a passionate teacher, a lover of the outdoors (and Utah has so much to offer!), a bookworm, and a neighbor and citizen like the rest of you. I studied Special Education at Brigham Young University receiving my Bachelors and Masters of Science. I taught special education for six years in Provo School District, followed by two and a half years at an inner-city high school in St. Louis, Missouri. I currently teach at a public high school in Granite School District and love what I do! I received National Board Certification for Exceptional Needs in 2020 and am a Utah Teacher Fellow.

Campaign Strategy

Describe your strategy for victory in your campaign; i.e., what is your messaging? How will it appeal to a majority of voters in your district? Are you working closely with any other campaigns?

My campaign plan is a layered approach consisting of canvassing, phone calls, texting, digital advertising, and earned media. Our persuasion universe is 31,000 people and we will make 1 pass through volunteer-based voter contact in coordination with the Salt Lake County Coordinated effort. We will make at least 2 other passes with phone calls and texting. Our turnout universe will be 29,000 and it is essential that low turnout democrats are motivated to vote by engaging through digital advertising, texting, calling, and canvassing.
My district is diverse in its party affiliation, beliefs, cultures, etc., with the “unaffiliated” being the largest party. Sharing my story and letting voters know I’m a special education teacher hoping to get a teacher on the State School Board has been impactful.

Why Run?

A decision to run for office can often be a difficult one: why did you decide to run for school board, i.e. what are your guiding principles?

I joined the Utah Teacher Fellows cohort and attended Educator Day on the Hill in February 2022. It was impressed upon me that while many of my legislators are trying to make the best choices for their constituents, most don’t have education backgrounds, and yet are making decisions on educational policy – and these decisions directly impact me in my classroom. I left determined to befriend my legislators so that they could have a classroom teacher to refer to when educational policy issues arose.
I also connected with several House Representatives, including Andrew Stoddard and Ashlee Matthews that day on the Hill. Ashlee recommended I run for State School Board, and the rest is history!

Experience

What professional or volunteer experience do you have in the Utah education system?

I have worked in Utah schools (Provo School District and Granite School District) for 8+ years. I have worked in the middle school and high school setting and student taught at an elementary school in Nebo School District. I was also a para-educator for a year during my undergrad at a charter school.

Community

What community groups, nonprofit organizations, or professional organizations do you belong to or align with?

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (does that count as a community/nonprofit organization?) and attend my local congregation in Kearns. I am a Utah Teacher Fellow, a part of Hope Street Group. I also joined Raise Your Hand Utah for this campaign season!

Endorsements

What local community members, professional associates, or elected officials have encouraged you to run for office or endorsed your campaign?

Andrew Stoddard and Ashlee Matthews were directly involved in encouraging me to run for State School Board. Kathleen Riebe and Deborah Gatrell, fellow educators, have endorsed me and supported me. I am a member of the Women’s Democratic Club and the Utah Democratic Party.

Force for Good

Based on your educational philosophy/core values, what is at least one way that you can positively influence your school district as a school board member?

I know that in order for my students to learn, they need to feel safe, welcomed, seen/heard, and loved. My passion is to teach students. I will support policy decisions that ensure that students have their physical and emotional needs met so that they can actually learn in school.

Supporting Administrators

What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support administrators?

-Financial support (allowing administrators to make financial decisions that keep their school environment effective, functioning, and thriving)
-Mentorship
-Remembering the “middle people” – my district is filled with low socio-economic AND average schools. “Average” schools also deserve resources, access, attention, etc.
-Assist with advertising open positions and finding ways to attract paraeducators
-Work with state universities to make ARL style programs more efficient in light of students (who are also teachers!) working full time

Supporting Teachers

What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support teachers?

-Teacher recruitment/retention efforts
-Treating teachers as professionals in policy choices, stakeholder input, etc.
-Giving teachers TIME (time with each other, time to catch up on work, plan, etc.)
-Teacher wellness
-Improve benefits: retirement packages, pay, medical/dental coverage

Supporting Students

What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support students?

-Resources (after school programs, athletics, clubs, arts, etc.)
-Legislation, policies, and practices that support our students and their various demographics
-Mental health support
-Family support for behaviors and study strategies

Supporting Parents

What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support parents?

-Community engagement efforts (including our second language speaking families)
-Accessibility of resources (educating parents on what is already available, providing second language translations, etc.)
-After school programs
-Parent programs to assist with behavior and study strategies

Appreciation

What is something the school board you are running for has done right?

As a current teacher, I can’t rave enough about the “Donors Choose” partnership and program that took place this past December 2021 that gave teachers $1000 toward a school project when partnered with Donors Choose. This initiative helped me feel seen, heard, and cared for from the State School Board. This is a great example of finding a way to help teachers create classroom environments that are warm, engaging, equipped with tools/supplies etc. so that high levels of learning can take place.

Achievable Goals

As a school board member, what specific, achievable goals do you have?

-Safe, High-Quality Education: Our teachers and students deserve a public education system that allows them access to the highest quality education in a safe environment where students’ diverse needs are met.
-Teacher Recruitment & Retention: One teacher can change the trajectory of a student’s life. Recruiting quality teachers – and keeping them in our schools – is critical to ensuring student success.
-College and Career Readiness: Whether for college or career, we must set our students up for success. They deserve personalized learning that works for them. Let’s advocate for Career and Technical Education and accessible college preparation.

Censorship

There is a well-established and transparent process for book challenges and removals; recently, a minority of parents and parent-groups have advocated for testing the limits of established practice by using social media to spread disinformation about books and librarians. How do you feel about the existing policy and efforts to circumvent it?

I support librarians choosing literature that meets the needs of their school demographics (age, grade, culture, etc.) and the academic standards they need to teach/abide by. I support collaborative policies between librarians, community, and board members.

Teaching American History

Another ongoing debate is focused on the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Utah’s K-12 schools. If you are asked: “Are you promoting Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools?" How would you respond?

CRT is not currently taught in our K-12 schools. I support every student accessing a quality school and am committed to eliminating barriers so that every student has what they need when they need it.

Inclusion

What role do school boards have in establishing policies that promote inclusion and diversity?

I am in favor of policies that aid and support our diverse student populations in their ability, culture, socio-economic status, background, trauma, etc.

Mental Health in Schools

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions are prevalent among Utah’s youth. Do you believe Utah’s educational system has a role to play in supporting the social and emotional wellness of its students? How can school boards support the needs of Utah students?

Students are struggling with a variety of mental health issues and schools need access to social/emotional resources and tools. School boards can support Utah students by making student AND educator wellness a priority.

Vouchers

Do you support governmental appropriation of taxpayer funds to provide support to parents who wish to have their children attend private schools?

I do not support school vouchers.

Politicization of Education

How has the politicization of education changed the campaigning process—and the nature of school boards, themselves? Is this change beneficial to Utah's public school system?

School issues are non-partisan. I believe all parties can and should champion ALL Utah students.

Wild Card

Is there an unasked question you would love to answer? Please tell us about the issue you are passionate about that we have not touched upon.

The box for Question 2 (Tell us about yourself) wasn't working, so I couldn't respond to that one. I'll paste my answer here. I don't have any other areas to address. Thank you!

I am a passionate teacher, a lover of the outdoors (and Utah has so much to offer!), a book worm, and a neighbor and citizen like the rest of you. I studied Special Education at Brigham Young University receiving my Bachelors and Masters of Science. I taught special education for six years in Provo School District, followed by two and a half years at an inner-city high school in St. Louis, Missouri. I currently teach at a public high school in Granite School District and love what I do! I received National Board Certification for Exceptional Needs in 2020 and am a Utah Teacher Fellow.

I married the love of my life (a native of West Jordan!) in a hot air balloon on 7.14.21. Yes, the math teacher in me picked a date that had a fun numerical pattern! We are enjoying setting up house and creating a home in Kearns. Cameron and I love DIY home improvement projects (although Cameron may not use the word “love”), drinking milk shakes and binge watching tv shows.

Thank you for taking the time to read this candidate's responses to the UAC 2022 Utah School Board Candidate Survey