Opinion | School board candidate Gayle Jones Westerberg: I will prioritize teachers, professional development
School board candidate
As a seasoned educator and resident of Summit County who is vested in the success of our school district, I am vying for a position on the Summit school board.
Occupation: Education consultant
Years in Summit County: 43 years
Family: Husband, Tim, five children, and four grandchildren
Civic involvement: Served on multiple community boards and educational committees in Summit County in conjunction with 34 years of employment as an educator in Summit School District
My interest in serving on the school board is to advance the strategic plan, support the administration and bring my education expertise to the table to make the best decisions for our learning community. I have great respect for the current board of education, and I believe I could work collaboratively with them to guide Summit School District to the next level of excellence.
I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Tony Byrd when he reminds us to “focus on the bright spots to make change.” The priorities that I present below are extensions of the work already being done in Summit School District. My interests lie in moving forward with these priorities to effect change that will impact student learning and performance.
Priority No. 1
My first priority is to facilitate policies that create more opportunities to recruit and retain quality staff.
Staff members need benefits and housing options that allow them to make a long-term commitment to Summit School District. Student learning benefits directly from staff with longevity, and the school budget and resources are maximized when we experience the continuity and consistency of staff who stay in Summit County for the long run.
Priority No. 2
Another priority is high caliber professional learning for staff that is linked to the outcomes desired in the graduate profile and connected to positive results for all learners.
Additionally, professional learning should be tied to time for educators to absorb new information, collaborate with their peers to transfer new learning to best practice in the classroom and evaluate the results. To reach this end, strong leadership and a Pre-K-12 perspective is necessary to align instruction for all students.
As a community we need to stop thinking that teacher training and teacher preparation time is superfluous. It is the key to advancing student learning, and with the right resources, it can be transformational.
Priority No. 3
Closing the opportunity gap for English Learners is paramount to developing a parallel trajectory of growth and achievement for all students.
Summit School District made great strides in the last two decades to welcome students and families to our community. New staff, programs, family outreach, translation services and partnerships with organizations have grown exponentially.
Yet, there is more work to be done. We need to celebrate and promote the cognitive, cultural and economic benefits of proficiency in more than one language. Summit School District has many students who receive the Seal of Biliteracy and a Dual Language Diploma in addition to their diploma from Summit School District. Let’s hear more about this incredible opportunity for students!
Providing literacy and language instruction at all levels and across all content areas is necessary to reach all of our learners. Operating with the premise that every teacher in a school is a language and literacy teacher as well as a content teacher is a challenging concept, but it is an idea that deserves action. Optimally, language and literacy are integrated throughout daily instruction and are connected to meaningful learning.
Multilingual learners need additional oral language and vocabulary development that is related to their learning, and we must ensure that there is equity in resource allocation to serve these needs. Developing family partnerships is currently part of the Summit School District Strategic Plan, and a great deal of effort has been put forth in recent years to expand the involvement of all families. Continually seeking new ways to connect with families, creating new opportunities for listening to their needs and developing new approaches to engage our community impacts student learning for all students.
I believe my experiences and educational expertise will serve Summit School Board as they move forward with their mission to create a safe learning community where every person belongs, grows and thrives.
Gayle Jones Westerberg is a candidate for Summit School District’s board of education. For more election coverage, visit SummitDaily.com/election.
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