BY JULIA BAKER
Candidate For School Board
District 4 – Barranca
Lately I’ve had the opportunity to visit with a lot of people in our community about our schools. I’ve been encouraged and inspired by the stories that I’ve heard and I’ve been grateful for those who have also opened up about their struggles.
One topic that many have brought up is the need for increased support for varying student needs. I usually refer to this concept as “multiple paths to success”. So I’d like to address what that means to me.
Each of us has taken a different path to get where we are today. For some that has included universities and colleges, attending a trade school, or for others starting their own business. Some of us are mathematically and scientifically minded while others pursue music, writing and art. For some the path seemed flat and calm and for others steep and rugged. Yet all of us walked whichever path we were on in search of success. Although our definitions of success might vary, I think we all hope to be resilient, feel accomplished, and find joy in what we are doing. These are things we want for our students too!
Our students are each unique with strengths, talents, and struggles all their own. As a healthy school community we need to support our students in their talents and meet them with understanding in their struggles. This support comes in the form of art and music programs, skill training classes, healthy school initiatives, IEP teams, collaborations with community organizations, GATE programs, innovative curriculum, and an increased focus on the emotional and social wellbeing of our students.
I’m encouraged by the many teachers I’ve talked with who consider each student in their lesson planning, teach mindfulness and foster student collaborations, use innovative teaching to include all learning styles, prepare assignments that help our students try on a variety of careers and think about their future, attend trainings on new ways to approach learning disabilities and use inclusive curriculum. These staff foster unity amongst their classes and connect on a personal level with each student.
These teachers do an amazing job for our students but the responsibility of student success cannot be placed solely on school staff. As we volunteer in the community and support programs that teach resiliency, we can help the schools in creating a culture that values all educational paths and careers. We need to teach our students to respect one another even when they are on different paths to success.
I’m grateful to the current school board for their work on the healthy schools initiative and policies that help make our schools safe for all students. If elected to the school board I would make sure to support policies that support all students, no matter what their path may look like right now. I would support budget decisions that take into account the varying needs of our students, taking note of their strengths and struggles. I would support programs that allow teachers to choose the trainings that would be most beneficial to them.
It is important for all of us to collaborate in these efforts. We must create opportunities within the district that allow students to be successful within their areas of strength and interest and not try to squeeze students into a one size fits all education. There are many that work within our schools that are already implementing these ideas with amazing results. I am excited to be part of this essential collaboration that will further enable Los Alamos Public Schools to support student’ multiple paths to success.