My Slogan is “Experience Matters”. And I truly believe that.
To serve as an effective school board member I believe you need more than just a cursory understanding of the complexity of Pinellas County Schools. I believe it takes years of immersion in the K-12 classroom environment, a working knowledge of how children learn and a deep understanding of the teenage brain. It takes being on the frontline and experiencing failure, backing up and trying things from a different perspective. Degrees in education are a valuable starting point. They at least introduce you to theory. However, hands-on experience in the classroom with children of all levels, some with brilliant communication skills and others on the autism spectrum, some that barely speak English and some burdened with a wide range of learning disabilities, those are the skills only picked up through years of dedicated experience working directly with our students. Teachers train for this, and that training continues every year they teach. A board member that hasn’t been immersed in this is likely to make simplified or wrong decisions even after the two-hour workshop where they get “filled in”.
A board member also needs to fully understand which direction the school system needs to move in with a history of what’s worked and what hasn’t. We can’t be dependent on the Superintendent, who is well trained and has been fully immersed. The board is there to raise the important questions and offer informed advice. Having lived through dozens of “new” directions where the entire district switches to the latest whim in educational practices, I can promise I will review the next parade of ideas with eyes wide open.
No other candidate for District 3 has that experience. I have been in the Pinellas County School system for 33 years. I have been teacher-of-the-year six times including the Tampa Bay area Journalism teacher-of-the-year three times and State Journalism teacher-of-the-year in 2003. I was elected to be a State Representative in the Florida House of Representatives where I served on three education committees. I wrote bills to make our classrooms safer, I helped change the name of PTEC to Pinellas Technical College with a pathway for those students to get a degree in conjunction with St. Pete College and I was on the committee that visited, reviewed, and set expectations for state-funded pre-school early learning coalitions for VPK.
I taught English, TV production, Broadcast journalism, filmmaking, screenplay writing, and public relations. Over 100 of my students that I know of went on to successful careers in those fields. But most important, I personally helped usher nearly 5000 children from childhood to adulthood. Education is always about the student – each and every one of them. I will never forget that as a board member.