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 Heidi Harris Gross. I grew up in Huntsville, Utah and attended Valley Elementary, Valley Jr. High and Weber High School. After high school I then went to Utah State University and earned a degree in Home Economics and Consumer Education. After graduating from USU I then attended Weber State University and received my Elementary Education Endorsement. I am married to Mike Gross. Together we have raised 5 children. We now have 3 of those children married and have 8 grandbabies. When we were first married we built our first home in North Ogden where our children attended school. As the last child graduated from high school we built a new home in Huntsville. As a family we have enjoyed over the years, Disneyland, skiing, camping and playing games. Growing up I was active in the 4-H programs, enjoyed playing softball, volleyball and being out walking or riding by bike. Today I still enjoy doing those things. I also enjoy reading good books and playing the piano. I have also enjoyed traveling. I lived in Japan for a summer with an exchange program and have had several opportunities to travel with our school district while learning about our country and history. I am always up for a good trip.
Family is important to me. I enjoy having extended family and my own children and their families together. Over the years we have created many traditions that we all enjoy together. Playing games, going to the zoo, museums, shows, sporting events, hiking, camping, and shopping adventures. There are days we never know where the next adventure will take us but it always adds great memories to our family story.
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?
I have been a teacher in the Weber School District for the past 35 years, retiring June 1, 2022. I have taught K-12 grades. While teaching I have been involved with the school Leadership team, Club and Class advisor, P.E. and Healthy lifestyle coordinator for the school and District. I have taken on extra responsibilities to help make school a better place for our students. I have been a member of the PTA. I have also been a member of the Weber Education Association. I am a mother of 5 children who all attended Weber School District schools.
Because I am fresh out of the school system I understand the stresses and burn out that our teachers and students are going through right now. As a parent I have experienced many things with my own children throughout the years from, being class officers, involved in sports , music and theater, and also in trouble for misbehaviors. I understand at times how expensive it is to have my children involved in the extra curricular activities and that not all parents are able to afford it.
I am running to be the moderate voice for the community. I want to hear the concerns of the teachers, students and parents and then take those concerns back to school board. Then, as a school board who is working together see what polices we can implement to create a positive learning environment for our community.
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?
As teachers at the school I worked at, we were becoming concerned with all the extra expectations that school district was placing upon us. We felt that decisions are being made without full looking at what it entailed for the teachers. As teachers were kept wondering where could we find the time to give our students the help and guidance they deserved while doing all the extra things the district was asking. We felt the School Board was not listening or even coming out into the schools to find out what we really needed, help with, they were letting one person tell them what to do and how to vote on new polices. We also felt that there were board members there who did not have the best interest of the school district on their agenda. So I was taught growing up that if you did not like what was happening to step up and make a difference yourself. That is why I am running for school board I want to help make a difference for our students, teachers and community.
What professional or volunteer experience do you have in the Utah education system?
I have taught in the Utah education system for 35 years. My first 8 years I taught in the high school, and the last 27 years I was at the elementary level. With the school district I have been on text book selection committees, participated in History Grant program, School district P.E. trainer/leader, school Leadership team, coordinator for school Red Ribbon Week, Field Day, P.E, and help students create drug and violent videos which won awards. Trained by the state with the Gold Medal School ( healthy lifestyle program.) Currently doing the training from the State on the LETRS program.
What community groups, nonprofit organizations, or professional organizations do you belong to or align with?
WEA, UEA and NEA, 4-H programs, STEM education.
What local community members, professional associates, or elected officials have encouraged you to run for office or endorsed your campaign?
I have been endorsed by Weber Education Association-PAC and Utah Parents For Teachers
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 want to be the school board member who is approachable to listen to concerns and then be able to take it back to the board for discussion and if need to create a reasonable solution.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support administrators?
The best way I feel that the state and local school board can be supportive of the administrators is to listen to them and their concerns for their school or district and then find ways to help support them to provide the best education for our students.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support teachers?
Again the best way to support teachers is to listen to them and their concerns. Help them with the needs of their classroom rather it be in supplies or with students behaviors. It would be helpful to back off on some of the paper work or procedures to help students get the support they need as in special ed, mental health, supplies, etc.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support students?
Come out to the schools and really see what is happening, provide opportunities that benefits all students just not a select few.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support parents?
Be out in the public so the parents know who their school board member are. Then really listen to what parents have to say.
What is something the school board you are running for has done right?
During the Pandemic they showed concern for the students and families. This past year they did approve a nice pay raise for the teachers.
As a school board member, what specific, achievable goals do you have?
Making sure our district is spending their money wisely and not wasting the taxpayers money.
Helping the board become more public so people know who is on the board.
Making sure teachers get the classroom help they need.
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?
The State Board of Education is taking a look at the libraries policies. They have asked for public input on how to select books for our school's libraries. We will have to see what the outcome of the new policies are. I feel that there are good books placed on the shelves of our libraries. Not every book is for everyone, but there are books there that can help a child work through things that maybe troubling them. Parents need to be aware of what their students are reading and be willing to have open discussions with their child about the content of the book, why the book might have be written, and the time period of when then book was written.
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?
I am running to set policies for a fair and equitable education for all students and teachers in our school district. I am reviewing the laws and policies that our State Legislature and State School Board has set for our public schools and am making sure our district is following them. The Utah State School Board has stated that: “No [state] Board Member has raised Critical Race Theory (CTR) as an agenda item to include in Utah’s k-12 schools and advocates have not asked for specific theories to be taught. Rather, there has been a focus on educational equity and access to learning for all students.” As a board member my focus will be to provide an educational equity and access to learning for all students.
What role do school boards have in establishing policies that promote inclusion and diversity?
I will support policies that make sure every student has a fair and equitable education.
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?
Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions is a growing concern especially after the students have gone through the pandemic and have been secluded from society as a whole. As a school board we need to look at providing more professional help as in school counselors and psychologist and sound training for the teachers on how to help these students feel worthwhile.
Do you support governmental appropriation of taxpayer funds to provide support to parents who wish to have their children attend private schools?
No. I do not support governmental appropriation of taxpayer funds to go to private schools , unless those schools are held to the same accountability as any public school.
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?
I feel that School Board positions should stay as a nonpartisan seat. Adding politics to it hurts getting those good people who care to run.
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.