No matter how much I study and how much I read, I always learn the most by listening to others. Parents, teachers, students, staff, bus-drivers, and resource officers all give valuable input on how to better serve our kids. You bet I'm listening. There are no better experts on our kids than those right here in Norman who devote themselves to helping them be successful in school, work, and life.
Our teachers work tirelessly to meet each student where they are and teach directly to each individual student. Norman Public Schools must meet each family where they are and continue to offer options for each individual family. In-person, blended, and virtual options must be accessible during COVID times and beyond. Education can and will look different in the future. Constituents will express opinions and help us determine how we inspire kids in even more creative ways.
To achieve diversity of teachers who mirror the population of students, we created the position of Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Stephanie Williams leads these efforts and was the first step in addressing this issue. Now we must identify each position that is needed to create the balance between our student population and teaching team.
All education begins with relationships. When you are taught by someone who looks like you or has a similar background as you, then relationships develop faster and deeper. The relationships create positive teaching outcomes that increase at a more rapid rate.
Diversity in thought and collaborative/constructive disagreement create the greatest opportunity for informed decisions. We encourage and welcome input from all constituents. In a time when many are divided nationally, statewide, and locally, we must be flexible, compromise, and be kind in all our actions. Different ideas are not wrong or bad, they are just different and all are valuable. We have an incredible opportunity to model this to our students and give them better examples to work through their own challenges.
A constant supply of the best and brightest teachers choosing Norman Public Schools as their career destination will only happen with an intentional strategy of recruiting, interviewing, evaluating, hiring, and training. I have and will continue to work to bring best in practice models for each of these areas.
First, having a deep and diverse applicant pool is not a sign of great recruiting. We must be identifying the diverse top of class students while they are still in college with a comprehensive college recruiting program. This program begins with strong relationships with professors and department heads in the College of Education at selected universities.
Next, we must employ the best interviewing skills using behavior based models that are taught and practiced by all who are involved. While teaching these skills, evaluating models will be implemented at the same time. These systems exist in nonprofit and for-profit organizations. We only need to translate them into education and begin.
A comprehensive system to identify, support, counsel, and effectively treat all mental health and trauma issues with professionals in conjunction with Norman Public Schools. We need to invite the Cleveland County Health Department, Oklahoma State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health to work directly with our students within our walls during school hours.
By the time a student leaves class, drives to see a counselor at a private office or health department, sees the professional, and drives back to school (this assumes there is someone who is available to drive them), they have spent more time in transit than in counseling.
We can create space within our buildings for already employed professionals to help our kids who are suffering. We have learned that bringing healthcare into our buildings give access to those who need it the most. It is time to do the same thing for mental healthcare.
I am the only current school board member with children attending Norman Public Schools from now through 2033. I have a pulse for what is going on in our schools and a true investment in making sure we keep our school system the best in the state.
As an attorney with a MBA, I bring real expertise and experience to the board regarding contractual and legal matters, fiduciary responsibilities, and using data to drive important decisions.
“I have owned and operated many businesses. I bring this expertise and the experience of strategic planning, goal setting, creative problem solving, and hiring and retaining quality employees to the school board.
I have led many organizations, businesses, and non-profits over the years. I have seen a few things and learned a lot about how to build teams and get them to work together. What I know is that if you can build a quality team and provide clear and consistent leadership, everyone can be successful.
Seldom is leadership about talking. It is mostly about listening to others. To do that, you have to be “all in”. You have to be present and you have to be available.
People know that I am available to take their call, to respond to an email, to listen to a problem, and willing to work as long as it takes to find a solution. Serving on the school board is not just taking on a monthly meeting. It is taking the job seriously and investing all the time it takes that will ensure our kid’s future successes in Norman Public Schools, in work, and in life.
I promise not to send too many!