I'm a psychology professor and mother of three. My family and I have lived in Falmouth since 2001, and I've been volunteering in the schools throughout that time. I believe this combination of experiences--parent and teacher--gives me a unique understanding of the needs of Stafford's students and teachers.
I was elected to the Falmouth seat for School Board in November of 2017. I have spent the past four years working to promote quality education, teacher retention, and smart spending--things that benefit all Stafford residents, regardless of whether you have a child in the school system.
My number one priority is to ensure SCPS students receive the education they need to fulfill their goals, whether that be higher education, the job market, military service, or homemaking. Students graduating from SCPS should have the skills necessary for the next step in their lives.
Although every student is unique, I believe we can continue to make improvements to help ALL students: retaining good teachers, building and maintaining schools, maximizing in-person instruction rather than distance learning, and identifying students with special needs and helping them.
Today, SCPS is doing a great job of bringing in talented new teachers. However, we aren't doing such a good job of keeping our teachers. Right now, SCPS is hiring new teachers, training them, and then losing them to counties and states that offer higher pay and better benefits. I have been working to provide more competitive compensation for our teachers and staff. In addition, I have supported policies that demonstrate how much we value the important contribution that teachers make in educating our next generation of citizens.
Stafford County’s population is growing. The latest U.S. Census data shows a 21% increase since 2010. We need more schools to address this growth, and we need to maintain the schools we have.
My first year on the Board, I worked with the County Supervisors to purchase the campus that is now the North Star Early Childhood Education Center in North Stafford. We also opened up the new Moncure Elementary School. These additional seats freed up space in all our elementary schools. Additionally, we are working towards the building of a 6th high school.
I helped make the renovation of Ferry Farm Elementary School happen. I pushed for a much-needed renovation at Drew Middle and the board has just approved the design phase for renovations there and at Hartwood Elementary School.
Education: In the School
When I was elected to the school board four years ago, I did not expect a global pandemic! But I have worked diligently to keep our students and staff safe while providing as much in-school education as possible. Unlike school divisions to our north, we offered elementary school students hybrid in-school instruction starting last October. We brought middle and high school students back in February. I advocated for a Covid dashboard on the SCPS website to keep parents informed about the number of cases in our schools, and to hold in-school vaccine clinics for interested families. I have also supported hiring extra school nurses and contact tracers.
This year students have been in-person from the start of the school year. By following the most current medical advice provided by the Rappahannock Area Health Department, we will keep our schools open for in-person learning! With this goal in mind, I support the wearing of masks until the health department changes their guidance.
Educating Every Student
I know first hand what it's like to navigate both the 504/IEP maze and to fight for gifted education: exhausting. The process can be confusing and requires constant parent focus and effort.
Over the past four years we have increased the number of school diagnosticians, counselors and social workers in our schools. We have created a 504 coordinator at the county level and are exploring adding 504 coordinators at the school level.