In the span of about 15 minutes, several dozen parents at an Auke Bay Elementary School open house Wednesday asked Andi Story about her re-election plans and appeared excited about the possibility of her serving on the Juneau School Board for three more years.
Story, a two-term incumbent, is one of five candidates seeking three at-large seats on the Juneau School Board in the Oct. 6 municipal elections.
"I just feel really committed to making our schools the best schools they can be" and the ingredients are here, she said.
The homemaker and former social worker has three children. The two oldest have grown out of the school system as students, and one has come back as a special education teacher at Auke Bay Elementary. Her youngest is a freshman at Thunder Mountain High School, a school she advocated building in 2003 as an involved parent, before being elected to office.
"I find satisfying (that) you can advocate for certain issues you really care about. ... As a community, as an individual, you can really have an impact," Story said. "It's important to use the system to improve, to change. And I guess that's what I'm trying to do."
And she has a bit of self-interest in influencing the kids' futures.
"They're going to be taking care of me, some day," she said.
If re-elected, she hopes to refocus the School Board's attention on instructional matters. It's easy for a new member to come in passionate about one particular topic and to get distracted, she said, which raises the question: Wasn't instruction what she had hoped to focus on all along?
"I certainly like to think so," she said, shaking her head. "Every year, it seems like a major issue takes the focus away," such as the ongoing controversy over drug testing athletes and last year's push to expand access to school sports and activities. "It's like a light switch went off. ... I want to get the focus back on instruction, reading especially."
Story identified some of her other goals:
Efficient budgeting with a focus on getting resources to the classroom.
Supporting the ongoing high school reform that began with the opening of TMHS.
Integrating more technology into the classroom, such as a recently implemented laptops-for-students program she backed.
Supporting art instruction.
Some of the changes she's been party to effecting in the school system was a mandate to principals through the superintendent to spend 40 percent of their time in classrooms, a measure she said will help identify teacher and classroom needs, so that the schools can adapt to them.
She said she's proud of helping lower student-to-faculty ratios to 20-1 in kindergarten through second grade.
And Story said she hopes to continue her lobbying efforts in the capitol. As the School Board's legislative liaison, she was there to testify on legislation in 2008 that increased state education funding. The legislation passed, and it's now the second year of a three year series of increases. As that cycle comes to an end, Story said it's a big responsibility to keep up the lobbying effort.
And the desire to participate in public education runs deeper than her personal interests. Including her oldest daughter, the teacher at Auke Bay Elementary, her extended family includes 39 public school teachers, she said.
Contact Jeremy Hsieh at 523-2258 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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