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New JSD appointee: 'All families can contribute' to education

Lisa Worl says she is 'passionate about education'

Posted: December 21, 2012 - 1:05am
Lisa Worl is the new Juneau School District's Board of Education member, filling the vacancy by Kim Poole.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Lisa Worl is the new Juneau School District's Board of Education member, filling the vacancy by Kim Poole.

Lisa Worl, who was appointed to the Juneau School District Board of Education Dec. 11 to complete an unexpired term, said Tuesday that she believes family involvement is key for students and teachers in Juneau’s public schools.

Worl shared her thoughts about education, her experience and what she hopes to accomplish on the board, to which she will be sworn in as a voting member on Jan. 8.

“What I would like to see, you know, what worked for me was just seeing parent involvement,” Worl said. “Not everybody has the ability to perhaps work in the classrooms weekly, but perhaps — there’s so many, many areas.”

Worl, who has served on the site councils for Auke Bay Elementary School and Floyd Dryden Middle School, noted that parents have a wide range of options for how to get involved in the schools, from site council and the Parent Teacher Association to leading a craft project or helping out with a school play.

“It could be like helping with arts. It could be some help with athletics,” Worl continued. “I think all families can contribute in very different ways.”

Not just parents, but other family members as well, can get involved at children’s schools, Worl added.

“Thinking of my family, it wasn’t just my mother and my father,” said Worl. “It was often aunts, uncles, grandparents who would come to plays. And I think we need to think more broadly when you think of families. So it can be any and all.”

While interviewing for the seat left vacant by former member Kim Poole’s resignation earlier this month, Worl noted she is Tlingit and Filipino and has ties to both communities, which are sizable and prominent minority groups in Juneau.

Worl said her perspective, while not dictated by her Tlingit and Filipino heritage and identity, is informed by it. She cited her view of families as an example.

“The thing about culture is you don’t see it, because you live it,” Worl said. “It’s just having a different perspective and voice, and you don’t know where or how that will be until you’re in the room. So, taking this idea of parental involvement, some people might just think simply nuclear, whereas often, especially minority populations — I know it’s very much so for Tlingits and Filipinos, and from what I’ve seen and witnessed my kids’ friends, Samoans and Tongans — it’s very tribal, very extended, very many people involved.”

Worl said she thinks she understands what will be expected of her as a board member. The board meets at least once a month and holds quarterly retreats, among other special meetings.

“I’m very aware of the many hours that they all put in, having worked with a number of them on some different issues,” Worl said.

But while Worl said she was likely to run for a full term next October on Dec. 11, shortly after her appointment to the board, she was more cautious in her assessment Tuesday.

“It’s hard to know when you go forward in the future. Anything can happen between now and then,” said Worl. “I think I know what it involves, but I’ve heard often from others who’ve run and served that it’s even more hours than you’d expect.”

Worl added, “I don’t know what impact that’ll have on my family.”

Worl’s two children attend Thunder Mountain High School and Floyd Dryden respectively. She also has 15 nieces and nephews, which she said offer her additional perspective on school issues and programs with which her own children have not had the same experience.

Worl said she is “anticipating a positive working relationship” with members of the school board.

“I’m definitely honored, but also anxious, knowing there is going to be a lot of work for me to do as a part of the board,” Worl said. “And it’ll be really interesting to look at things through a new filter.”

Like several other applicants for the vacant school board seat this month, Worl did not run in October’s municipal election, when three seats on the board were up for election. The school board passed over the two unsuccessful candidates who did run, Will Muldoon and Michelle Johnston, to pick Worl for the unexpired term.

Worl said she did not run in the election because her husband, Ricardo Worl, was transitioning into his new role as president and chief executive officer of the Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority. Now that he is better established in the position, she said, she felt it was a better time for her to seek a school board seat.

In applying for the position, Worl said she felt her experience would allow her to “offer something” to the board.

“I really do feel passionate about education, and I’ve seen, and my kids have benefited, from being in the classroom with so many great teachers,” Worl concluded. “It’s amazing to see the lights click for kids — I’ve been in the classrooms — especially in those earlier years.”

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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