Family: my wife Amy and I together have five children, three of whom have graduated from Apollo and two who are still attending.
Brief biographical background:
I am a graduate of Apollo High School and St. Cloud State University. I’m a sales manager for a technology company. I’m a past president of the Kennedy PTA and an active volunteer with Minnesota Multiple Sclerosis Society, SpareKey, Central Minnesota Youth Soccer, St. Cloud Figure Skating Club and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Why are you qualified to serve on the school board?
My dad (with the support of my mom) was involved in public education his entire career, so I grew up with an understanding of the importance of strong public schools. As an adult and parent, I put my beliefs into action by working on our district’s last three levy/bond referendums and also as Kennedy PTA president. It was those experiences – and the encouragement of many in our community – that led me to run for school board four years ago.
My approach is not to look at any issue with a pre-conceived conclusion. I want to hear from all sides. I review background information from multiple sources. I listen to anyone who wants to share their ideas with me. I make on-site visits as necessary. I ask questions that probe for information and insight. It’s then, based on all information I’ve obtained, that I make decisions I feel are right for our students and our community.
Should I return to the board, I will continue this approach. I will never claim to know all the answers. But I will do everything possible to find the best solutions and support our students.
There is a constant tug-of-war about school testing. Do they count or don’t they? How much credence should we ascribe to so many tests? Do they truly help improve education or do they cause more stress and misguided focus than they are worth? The Assessment and Testing Division of our Teaching and Learning Department makes every effort to ensure the tests our students take are relevant to their progress and goals. We do have the state mandatory MCAs, but they are now part of the Multiple Measurement Rating and do help to make decisions regarding curriculum.
Our district this year is implementing the STAR assessments, which are reading and math tests that focus on the individual student’s progress during the year. They are part of our Multi-Tier System of Support, all with the goal of recognizing and addressing those areas where students need additional support.
Other tests like EXPLORE (8th grade) and PLAN (10th grade) help guide students toward their post-secondary goals. Along with the ACT, I believe these are valuable tests.
Horrific examples of bullying continue to make local and national news. Have you closely examined the district’s policy about bullying? What would you change, if anything, in that policy? In following the Minnesota Safe and Supportive Schools Act, our district is currently revising and deploying a very strong anti-bullying policy. It is focused on education to prevent bullying, support from staff for all children and empowering students how to respond to bullying or harassment.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is a process we have in place that moves schools to an active approach for defining, teaching and supporting appropriate student behaviors throughout the entire school. This has been and I believe will continue to be a mainstay of our student support system.
Do you think sports are overemphasized or underemphasized in this school district? Do you think the district spends too much – or too little – on sports activities? I believe we’ve found a nice balance of sports emphasis in our schools. (While this question doesn’t address it, I believe our schools also offer excellent arts and music programs.) I’ve seen first-hand how sports have kept a number of students more focused on their education, a definite positive. With regards to what the district spends on sports, ideally, I’d like families to not have any activity fees. But that is not an economic reality.
What should happen to Tech High School? Tech High School, as an institution, will continue to be a vibrant center of education for its students. Tech, like Apollo, has and will continue to produce successful students. Now, when looking at Tech High School the building, there are options that are being considered. The first is to take down the entire existing structure and rebuild on that site. I don’t believe this to be a viable option as providing necessary instructional space to 1,400-plus students during that time is virtually impossible. The second option is to remodel the original structure along with building new space onto it. I’m open to that idea but only if it is educationally and economically feasible. The other option is to construct a new building on land further out from the existing site. This may be the most viable option, but I will wait to see all the information before deciding. Regardless of how we move ahead with the Tech building, consideration will be given to Apollo (and all district buildings) as to what changes can be made to make them more educationally functional.
Do you think the theory of evolution should be taught in schools, with or without the theory of creationism? Evolution as it is taught in our schools is based on the idea of evolution being change over time and why. An example in our middle levels is that of the Peppered Moth. Thus, evolution is based on the explanation of data. Creationism should not be taught in our schools as it is faith-based and it’s not in the state standards.