Lisa Webster: Focusing on students, staff and community
Summit School District board candidate
I am a proud product of public education. At an early age, my parents instilled in me the understanding that my most important job was getting a good education. I continue to believe in this system of caring, creative and competent educators, support staff and educational leaders entrusted to develop our most raw and precious human resource: our kids.
I believe that knowledge is power, and public education works to impart this knowledge along with a toolbox full of skills, such as confidence, compassion, teamwork, scrutiny, humor, ingenuity and inner strength. All of our young people should exit our public schools with the capacity to follow their own version of the American dream and to live their best lives. The next few paragraphs will tell you why I am running for the Summit School District Board of Education.
Priority No. 1: Students
I am a doer by nature, and action is needed to sustain and find innovative avenues to improve the educational experiences of our kids who remain the center of our work. Students show up in public education with myriad mindsets stemming from their identified culture, lifestyle, ethnicity, genetic predisposition and socioeconomic status. This translates into different learning styles, learning capacities, social-emotional-physical needs and desired outcomes.
The Summit School District staff gets about 13 to 14 years — during many of the roughest years of human development, adolescence — to develop graduate profile young adults, poised to face what the world inevitably will throw at them. Part of the school board’s role is to provide vision, tapping into local community values while, recognizing external structures imposed by governmental entities, all in order to develop local policies intended to do right by all our kids. The effort is collaborative, led by the superintendent, with flexibility to meet kids where they are and elevate them accordingly.
Priority No. 2: Staff
To support our kids in the ways needed to thrive in today’s world, we first need to attract and then equip, develop, support and maintain a first-rate staff. This cadre of people includes our awesome educators; an exceptional support staff comprised of bus drivers, food services workers, paraprofessionals, admin specialists, counselors, medical personnel and facility specialists; a supplemental, dedicated volunteer force; and tremendous school and district leaders.
Occupation: Retired U.S. Air Force C-130 pilot and instructor
Years in Summit County: 11
Family: Husband, Bill Webster; son, Isaac at Summit High School
Civic involvement: Summit School District parent volunteer, Parent-Teacher-Student Association member, Upper Blue Elementary book fair coordinator, School Accountability Committee member, Summit Advocates for Gifted Education board, Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented board, Summit-Lake Dillon Optimist Club board, Colorado Learning Connections board, Summit County Communities that Care board, Summit School District Board of Education treasurer and director, and Colorado Association for School Boards Legislative Resolution Committee member
I spent 20-plus years in the active-duty U.S. Air Force and immediately embraced the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. I mention this because, after retirement, I found myself searching for these same values in our community. Interestingly, the first place I found this culture was with my first grader in our public schools. I saw district staff at all levels being selfless, almost bending over backward, to educate and nurture every child in each classroom. What I didn’t know then, that I know now, is they work within a resource-restricted system, layered with funded and unfunded federal and state mandates, which may have been well intended but have not always translated into the best interests of all our students and staff. The effort required to work within this environment is massive. It includes delivering content while using updated and new tools, matching teaching techniques to student needs, layered with evolving accountability requirements.
And that is just the baseline expectation for educators. Public school staff duties go beyond teaching to include social worker, trusted adult and caregiver duties, all of which impact professional and personal well-being. The work required and accomplished does not match the compensation typical for other fields of employment mandating this type of lift. Part of the school board’s role is fiscal responsibility and advocacy to sustain and grow a successful education system balancing these varied obligations and aspirations.
Priority No. 3: Community
Community is key, and our local community has shown it values public education. Together, we believe in giving each student what they need without depriving others. As a community, we value our educators’ ability to live where they work and play. This includes a living wage. I believe we all want future generations to thrive, join our community and know the power of giving back. Our community demonstrates this belief individually (coaches, tutors, mentors), organizationally (Education Foundation of the Summit, Summit Community Care Clinic, Rotary, Optimists, etc.) and fiscally ($500,000-plus in total scholarships as well as grants).
I believe our community is human, has the ability to give grace and will work together toward viable community solutions. I want to be a part of that work.
Lisa Webster is an incumbent candidate for a four-year seat on the Summit School District Board of Education.
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