Length of residency: 8.5 years in Juneau
Education: Southern Illinois University, business & media communications; University of Alaska Southeast, accounting
Occupation: Director of administrative Services, Department of Revenue
Family: Wife Jessica and children Elizabeth, Mason and Victor (all 6 years and under)
Community Service: Two years volunteer officer for the Fraternal Order of Eagles (Charitable Organization); founded and maintained Juneau Community Collective online group (over 5,000 Juneau members)
Other Experience: Two years as director and four years as a managing officer of the Permanent Fund Dividend Division; eight years total in public administration experience.
If further cuts are needed in our high school extracurricular activities, where should those cuts be made and what should be done to protect Title IX-mandated equal treatment of girls’ activities?
I am not an advocate for outright cutting of extracurricular activities when it is possible to restructure. While not always popular, combining duplicate programs at multiple schools into a central program offering is better than eliminating the program altogether. Absent that option, I would look to activities with low or dropping enrollment first for elimination. If an all-girl student activity was considered for elimination, I’d want to first ensure we were growing female participation in remaining activities before agreeing to a cut.
Describe the role of parental involvement in the public schools. What might that involvement look like? How can that involvement be increased?
The education process doesn’t stop at the school door. Regular check-ins with teachers, classroom visits when possible, and asking their children to demonstrate at home what they are learning are all excellent ways for parents to measure progress and be involved. A student who sees that education is important to mom or dad will likely ask more questions at home and learn from those experiences. We can hopefully involve the current generation of parents more by also utilizing technology at its current standard. The modern parent is digitally savvy and wants to get current information and participate online. The digital tools are available and not expensive.
Would you support a comprehensive statewide sex education curriculum? If so, how would this best be implemented and taught? If you do not support such a curriculum, explain why.
I would support an age-appropriate statewide sex education curriculum. Consensus built on feedback from statewide school districts on the most important topics to their parents would be valuable groundwork for starting an initiative of this nature. It is likely that mutually agreeable topics will rise to top of the district collected list and can be the backbone for statewide curriculum creation. Parents want to be involved in these conversations, and I think a mechanism to do just that would be important. I feel it would also be important to have flexibility within the curriculum to spend more time on issues that hit certain communities harder than others.
What value do you see in an adequately funded fine arts program in the school curriculum?
Early in my education I was presented with the opportunity to play bass clarinet. Music excited me and provided a different way to learn. I was also involved with theater, and that boosted my confidence and improved my public speaking. My participation in school radio shaped my skills at forming effective messages. All of these types of experiences better prepare students to deal with how life operates after high school. I feel that music, theater and art engage parts of our brain that enhance creativity, independence and critical thinking. I see great value in funding the fine arts, as the structured learning environment our teachers provide is enhanced by its incorporation.
If you had to rank the educational skills most needed by our students, what would be the #1 and #2 skills on your list? Explain why.
We are in the mature stage of the age of information and future required skills will be driven by careers in smart technology, mechanical automation, social media and modern healthcare for our growing senior population. I feel that critical thinking would be my #1 skill choice students need most. Students should learn to work with a problem in front of them, consider their options, and apply a solution without adult intervention. My second-ranked skill would be social collaboration. The online world can expand our global reach, but it sometimes comes at the expense of what it means to work toward goals or solutions with peers in person.
What alternate funding resources can you suggest and/or help secure if state education funding continues to decrease?
I would investigate the possibility of additional grants available for our programs that may be at risk for elimination or reduction. I’d also explore voluntary programs for contribution where individuals could pay into programs that may be popular but unsustainable during the budget crunch.
Describe your view of the value of Pre-K public school programs.
While my oldest child benefited from preschool outside of the district, I’m excited about the growing Pre-K opportunities in town for my other two children. Pre-K programs provide early focus for young children. Parents get a chance to engage their kids with new activities and early academics that help sharpen skills now and set children up for success later in life. The district is working on securing more grant funds for these programs, and I would hope to help improve access and convenience for more interested parents. I’ve seen Pre-K learning success in my own home, and I will be a supporter of those programs in the future.