Which type of fish will you spend the most time trying to catch this summer?
School Board Candidate Kathy Todd
I was born in Portland Oregon to a family of teachers (from coop preschool to high school machine shop to college) and educated in the public schools of Oregon, New Jersy, and Washington. I graduated from Pomona College in Claremont California and Washington University Medical School in St. Louis before Family Practice residency at the University of Washington in Seattle. I have practiced medicine in Valdez since coming here in 1980. My two daughters, after a great start in Valdez City Schools, are in medical school and graduate school respectively. My other actiities include skiing, playing the piano for Epipany Lutheran/Episcopal Church, coaching synchronized swimming, and school board related activities.
Three main challenges in the next five years and how I'd address them:
All of our challenges revolve around the big question of how to provide a world class education that prepares each student for his or her future (and I don't mean just jobs) in the context of limited resources. Three subsets of that problem might be: preserving and creating variety in the curriculum in the face of declining enrollment (high school electives, learning environments like single sex classmrooms, accommodations for different learning rates and styles, etc.), employing and supporting an engaged and flexible teaching staff that have the motivation and know how to help each student reach his or her potential, and dealing with changes from outside Valdez that affect education (new laws like No Child Left Behind, state funding, mandates that may or may not fit what we think priorities should be, etc.). Dealing with challenges as a school board member requires doing one's homework to understand the issues, possible solutions, and short and long term effects of decisions. This involves consulting the experts (after figuring out who those experts are), reading, and listening. It requires analyzing and evaluating the options. It requires energy to advocate for enough dollars and helpful laws. And it requires insisting on a process that allows time, input from the correct people, and sufficient information to make informed decisions. As a school board member I will attempt to do all these things. But if I were to pick only one to emphasize it would be to ensure that best process is followed. Getting decisions made by the right people at the right level with the right input with plenty of thinking both inside and outside the box to generate a full list of options is my way of getting the best education for our kids.
What will I do differently this term: I will put more energy into being proactive instead of reactive. One needs to trust the experts and not get into second guessing them, but likewise one needs to prevent mistakes that waste resources, destroy school climate, and fail to maximize education. One conference presenter this year said that boards need to keep their "noses in and their hands out". I think the current board has made progress in this regard, asking questions early and looking for ways to judge process and results in real time, before things can go too far astray. I would like to continue that improvement in this term. With a new middle school building on the horizon (vote October 2!), it will take extra effort to also keep an emphasis on proactive budget planning, fine tuning curriculum and staffing for smaller numbers of students, continuing a wealth of activities for students, and the like.