UAC 2022 School Board Candidate Survey Responses
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 product of the Salt Lake City School District and have lived in my precinct for 30 of my 35 years of life. The 5 years spent out of the precinct were during graduate school and time spent establishing my career. There was no place like precinct 1, so I knew it was time to move back when the opportunity became available.
My educational background is that I hold a bachelors degree in social work and a masters degree in educational leadership and policy, both from the University of Utah. I currently work at the Bennion Center for Community Engagement at the University of Utah where I work with students to strengthen community through learning, scholarship, and advocacy. I also teach a course called Pathways to Community Engagement.
In my free time I enjoy time outdoors, University of Utah Athletics (especially Gymnastics and Football), cooking, and spending time with my partner, Katherine and our two 8 year old dogs.
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?
The messaging for my campaign is that I am a product of the precinct I am running to represent for 2 more years. I grew up attending schools in precinct 1 and am aware of the challenges and opportunities that exist as well as the triumphs. I believe as a district, we must look at equitable practices that allow all of our students to achieve and to thrive.
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 am currently serving as the school board member for precinct 1. I was appointed to the position in June of 2021 when the vacancy became open. As I have spent the last year on the board, I feel like there is still a lot of work to be done that I can be proactive in. Equity and belonging is the core of who I am. I believe all students have a right to an equitable education where their unique needs are being met and while feeling like they belong in the school. I have been a lifelong advocate of exceptional education for our students and will continue to fight for that long after my time on the school board. I initially applied for the vacancy because I felt there were a lot of inequities in the district.
What professional or volunteer experience do you have in the Utah education system?
- West High Alumni Association Board (2006-2021) President in 2019 and 2020
- Salt Lake Education Foundation Board of Directors (2017-2021)
What community groups, nonprofit organizations, or professional organizations do you belong to or align with?
Rose Park Community Council ( Board member: 2019-2021)
Sugar House Community Council (Board member: 2016-2018)
Community Development Corporatation (Board member since 2020)
Big Brothers Big Sisters (Big from 2015-2019)
Utah First Year Experience Consortium Steering Committee (Since 2021)
What local community members, professional associates, or elected officials have encouraged you to run for office or endorsed your campaign?
Women's Democratic Club of Utah (Endorsed)
Turner Bitton, Glendale Neighborhood Council (Endorsed)
Various Members of the Rose Park Community Council
Numerous Salt Lake City School District Educators
Executive Board of the West High School Alumni Association
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?
As a school board member, I will continue to advocate for all children in the district with equity and belonging at the forefront of what we do. I am a strong believer in building rapport and strong relationships with those I work with and I will use that rapport to build relationships of trust to advocate for our students, teachers, and families.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support administrators?
I think the best way that local school boards can support administrators is by listening and trusting the expertise of these administrators. Additionally, I believe school boards can also do their research and ask questions as new proposals come forward. I also believe school boards can support administrators by making date informed decisions.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support teachers?
School Boards must support teachers 100%. Teachers are facing huge obstacles in our current educational climate. School Board members must protect teachers in terms of public health, we must pay teachers more, and we have to limit the amount of extra requirements we are putting on teachers. It may be a small item, but we must vocalize our support for teachers and recognize them for the work they are doing. Finally, we must listen and believe our teachers when they are sharing information. Teachers should not feel afraid to speak freely and directly to school board member for fear of retaliation.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support students?
I believe the number one way we support students is through equity based approaches and programs. Data informed decision making is one way we can do that, but we must also look at students holistically. We know that education is not a one size fits all. We must invest in the unique challenges and strengths each student encounters.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support parents?
One of the best ways school boards can support parents is by listening to them and bringing them into the process of shared governance. Parents know their kids and what their unique needs are. Parents should have space to provide feedback and share in the educational journey of their students.
What is something the school board you are running for has done right?
One thing I believe the Salt Lake City School Board has done well is making data informed decision. Both qualitative and quantitative data has to be considered when large decisions are being made about educational experiences and diverse student needs.
As a school board member, what specific, achievable goals do you have?
1. Make the move toward having Magnet ELP programs available in Precinct 1 and Precinct 2.
2. Insure equity in all SLC School District programs and run an equity audit on the programs.
3. Focus on campus safety in all SLC schools. Look at what resources in technology and personnel can help with this.
4. Increased literacy rates
5. Increase persistence and graduation rates
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 am a strong believer in intellectual freedom. I understand that parents have concerns around materials in libraries and have the right to do so. I would encourage parents to have open conversation with their children about what materials they should or should not be viewing. I do not believe parents should have a say in what other children are viewing. Protecting the child should be a high priority, but not at the expense of another student or family.
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?
Critical Race Theory is not being taught in Salt Lake City School District. I support the teaching of equity and diversity as well as the lived experiences of all communities in our history.
What role do school boards have in establishing policies that promote inclusion and diversity?
I believe that inclusion and diversity belong in our schools. I believe schools and school boards should make equity and data informed decisions about what is being taught in our schools. We must be making decisions and implementing programs and services that have equity in mind and meet the diverse needs of our students, families, and educators.
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?
I absolutely believe we should be supporting social and emotional wellness. I believe school boards should be allocating funding to support these initiatives. I would like to see more support for mental health specialists such as social workers and counselors, more for training specialists and teachers, and programs and interventions that serve the students and families directly.
Do you support governmental appropriation of taxpayer funds to provide support to parents who wish to have their children attend private schools?
I believe students have unique needs when it comes to decisions about education. However, I do not support government funded vouchers for private schools.
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?
The politicization of school board elections has become really problematic. The focus has shifted away from meeting the needs of our students, families, and teachers, and has become more about who can take control and have the power.
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.