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School board candidates offer a mix of approaches

There are five candidates for three North Kitsap School board positions this year.

The candidate for district five, Kingston, is Brad Camp; he is unopposed.

There are two candidates for district three, Suquamish; Bethany McDonald, the board president who is pursuing her second term on the board, and Christopher Tibbs, an Olympic college student who is pursing his first.

In district one, Dick Endresen, who has served four previous terms on the board, is running for a fifth term. His opponent is Myron Lee, a local business owner and father who is running for his first term on the school board.

The five school board candidates were asked four questions each. Their answers follow.

Candidates were limited to 100 words per answer.

The questions were

1) What can be done to further attract and retain good teachers?

2) What can be done to strengthen the relationship between the schools and the tribes?

3) How will the district keep up with the fast-moving pace of technological change?

4) How can the district utilize the talents and skills of community members to help improve education in North Kitsap?

Myron Lee

1) Besides providing a living wage, plenty of respect and plenty of help is the key to retaining the good teachers we already have and attracting other qualified teachers as the need arises. So much of the burden falls directly onto our teachers. We must lift that burden and spread it around among the community.

2) The local tribes, as well as any ethnic, cultural, or religious group, should be invited to participate fully in all the decision making processes. Good relationships begin with sitting across the table from one another and together solving problems and planning for the future. Their concerns should be our concerns and our concerns should be their concerns. Working together constructively breeds respect, and respect always will strengthen relationships,which in turn leads to more respect, and so on.

3) Community involvement, meaning businesses, organizations, and individuals, coupled with the teachers and school district, will be needed to share ideas, training and equipment to keep up with technology. The burden should not be on the teachers or school district alone. It would be impossible for them to become aware of, and trained in every aspect of all the technological changes, that will be facing this next generation of youth, without the help of the community. We should begin now promoting this type of involvement to confront not only technological changes, but all changes that will face our society.

4) This community is brimming with skilled, energetic people that would be glad to help our youth if they understood specific needs and were simply asked to contribute. I would like to see a task force formed from a cross-section of businesses, community leaders, parents and students, with the charge to identify student needs, as well as community talent and skills, and then correlate involvement between the two, with the school district.

Dick Endresen

1) Teachers need to be listened to, responded to, and respected. Boards need to protect academic freedom and classroom spontaneous participation.

2) Tribal children can be individually evaluated and placed in proper individual learning environments. We are now working very closely with tribal parents and elders to accomplish this. We need to better understand the difference in learning styles that a culture can create.

3) By being aware that it does change rapidly. Tracking it frequently, analyzing which changes best fit into our academic and instructional plans.

4) By asking for it. We have already had citizens in to various classes, instruction students in their relevant fields. The Navy tutors often. In addition to simply asking for help in this area, we should advertise our needs and call for volunteers.

Brad Camp:

1) We have many natural qualities already that attract and retain our

educators. Adding to our great location attributes would be to continue

fostering an environment where the educators are empowered with the

tools they need to teach their students. Those tools can be additional

training, smaller class sizes, more planning time, open communication

channels with administration among other things.

My dad was a college professor and is a dean today, one of the greatest

factors for him as an educator was to have an ear with administration.

A quality that he carries today, as he is now that administrator.

2) I believe we have done many good things with all of our students,

including the tribes. We must continue our outreach into the community

and identify those students whose learning needs may be outside of a

particular learning track. The school district has made strides in

developing programs like the PAL, STAR, AGATE and even Native American

Education Programs. All of these programs recognize a particular

students needs and develops way to meet those needs through additional

parental, teacher or peer involvement. The district and the tribes

should have and maintain a regular channel of communication and

bi-directional feedback to develop and strengthen those relationships

that have already been made.

3) Keeping up with the pace is a challenge for any in the business

community. It all drills down to one major factor, that factor is

training. Technology changes at times can seem like a horse race—who

can get it first. The challenge is identifying with technology should

be followed, invested in then implemented. With good research and

follow-through, the investment will ‘pay off’ in returns in better

processes, efficiencies and potential long term financial savings. What

we don’t want to do is pursue technology, just for the sake of

technology. Rushing in to be first may sacrifice valuable research into

the cost-benefit analysis. The best technology is wasted unless those

affected by it can get trained and made aware of what the technology

can do for them or improve their lives.

4) It is happening today. We need to continue our interface with the

community through coffees, forums and most recently with our Key

Communicators initiative. This latest outreach involves a cross section

of community members, students, elected officials, parents and

educators with a goal in mind of improving the community and

environment involved in education. I am excited to be a part of a

system where the community feels so connected and charged with getting

involved with the district and the students. Our volunteer, mentoring

and community outreach is the best that I have experienced in any

school district that I have lived in.

5) There are many ways to accomplish this. By continuing our existing

programs like PAL, mentoring, NK Success and others that involve the

community and parents in the process. Other groups like the Rotary

Interact Club, Job Shadow Day, FFA and similar clubs get the business

community directly interfaced with the students. One recent example is

the horticulture program hosted a meeting for the Olympic chapter of a

professional landscape association (WSNLA). These students were

directly involved with local horticulture and landscape professionals.

Another way is to recruit guest lecturers, invite guest instructors in

a specialty to teach a class session or hosting a forum/lecture on a

topic.

The possibilities and ideas are endless, smart implementation and

follow through is the key to success. Community involvement is just one

of many assets that a student needs to succeed in their educational and

personal lives.

Bethany McDonald:

1) Educators want to work in effective schools. We can retain our good teachers and attract new ones by focusing on what works to achieve high standards for all. Small class size, time to develop teamwork and communication between teachers of all grades, an emphasis on professional development and a curriculum aligned with the Essential Academic Learning Requirements all contribute to a very positive working environment at North Kitsap.

The community has done its part of providing a supportive atmosphere by passing the bond to renovate the older buildings and build a new secondary school and can continue to show that support by passing the next levy.

We all can say thank you, more often.

2) By continuing to have conversations with both tribes focused on the common goal of improving student achievement we can find ways to strengthen the relationship between the school district and the local tribes. Holding parent conferences at the tribal centers connects the tribal parents with their children’s school experience. Being committed to prompt and fair resolution of harassment complaints allows for a friendlier learning environment . Inviting tribal members into the schools to share their knowledge and utilizing tribal resources such as the Suquamish Museum will also help to build the bridge to better understanding and respect of cultural differences.

3) The pace of technological change is rapid and if we don’t teach the use of technology in an appropriate way we are shortchanging the future of our students. We can get the most out of our investment by fully integrating technology with curriculum. It is now used as one of the basic tools of learning. By providing the essential tech support and continuing to train all teachers on how to best incorporate technology into their classroom, our students get the full benefit of an education enhanced by technological progress.

4) More coffees and community forums will be used to gather feedback, share information and improve community relationships. The district website will continue to be refined and made more user friendly. The successful evening conferences with parents will also continue. Information kiosks may be established in local grocery stores. Data from parent surveys will be used to find where improvements can be made. Community use of buildings and facilities will be supported. Student successes will be published more frequently to increase community pride and awareness.

5) Volunteers are essential to improving the educational opportunities for our students. By being an art docent, a Rolling Reader volunteer or a Success Mentor community members can have a direct impact on student learning. Involvement with a PTA can enhance the environment of an entire school. Serving on a district committee can be a way to share specialized knowledge such as those serving on the Facilities Advisory Committee. Hosting or attending a community coffee can provide valuable feedback to the superintendent and school board. Helping to pass the levy will help improve the whole district. The Volunteer Services Liaison can find an appropriate place to utilize anyone who wishes to share their talents and skills with the students of our community.

Christopher Tibbs:

1) I feel that to attract and retain good teachers we should look into the following: (1) We have to see about getting teachers a pay raise. With higher pay we should be able to select the teachers that we feel are the most qualified and who can help our students, not just hire someone because they have a teacher’s certificate. Like with everything else, you get what you pay for. We should look at ways to raise teacher salaries without raising taxes. (2) Teachers in our area should be held in respect. These are the people that are shaping the minds of our children. In Bremerton banks give low interest loans to Police Officers if they live where they work. Well, we should do something like that for our teachers, give them breaks on buying a home if they decide to teach in our schools. Have the business community give them breaks on other items also, maybe have a program where they get a better deal on buying a car of have them pay lower property taxes. Teachers are very skilled workers and should be treated as such.

2) I believe that the main goal of the school district should be to provide the best education for all students that attend. If local tribes feel that they are not getting this service or they feel that they need special help they should make their feeling known to the school board. Our goal should be to give every student in North Kitsap the best education that we can provide.

3) It is the school board’s job to keep track of where technology is heading. We need to talk to the movers and shakers and ask for their recommendations on what to teach our students. once we find out where to go, then we need to hire the best to take us there.

4) We should do everything in our power to get parents involved with what is happening in our schools, but the fact of the matter is that very few parents today have the time to get involved. In most households, both parents have to work long hours to keep their heads above water. They hold us responsible for making sure that their children are given the best education possible. I am not saying that the parents should not have a hand in what their children are doing in school; they should be kept informed if their child is having trouble in school or is causing problems. They shouldn’t find out there is a problem only when the child’s report card is brought home.

5) Our community has a lot of members that could teach our children. If we have certain areas that we need to teach our children we could put a notice in the paper. I am sure that there would be a lot of people in our community that would be more than willing to change their talents. I think at the present time that our community members are a major untapped source of information.

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