Student safety is of paramount importance in these days of COVID-19. Their mental health and physical wellbeing must be seriously addressed in these stressful times. Students need to interact with their peers. They need to see their teachers in person as soon as the Arizona Department of Education authorizes such openings, and the Arizona transmission rates for COVID-19 fall to a reasonable number. I support the opening of our school as soon as possible with the flexibility to allow students that want to attend in-person to do so and a vibrant virtual option for those who wish to learn online during this current health crisis.
In reopening the schools, we must recognize the balancing of interests of what is possible while acknowledging our teachers' and staffs' needs. We must realize many different elements of the needs of the students as well as the needs of those who provide the educational experience.
I have raised four children and appreciate firsthand the challenges facing many of our students in these days of COVID-19. I have taught school and other community classes working with youth for 30 years. I just taught a class in the past month.
I understand students' frustrations of not being able to be with their friends and engage in face to face exchanges and school-related activities. These activities are part of the integral fabric of the emotional wellbeing and educational experience of our students. We need to be looking to ways restore these critical parts of the educational experience as soon as possible.
WHAT I'VE DONE FOR STUDENTS
I served on the Mental Health and Wellness Committee for Tempe Union High School District. For 18 months, we studied extensively the mental health systems in our high schools and how to improve the delivery of those resources. Many recommendations were made from that Committee, and I intend to continue working with our District Administration to see that more of those recommendations are implemented. Many of the points we studied apply to the current situation with COVID-19 and the isolation students are experiencing as we pass through this dramatic time.
I currently serve as the Scholarship Chairman for the Tempe Union High School Education Foundation. In this capacity, I help raise money for college scholarships for our high school graduates. This past year, I also worked with local high school counselors on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid program, known as FAFSA, which helps high school seniors qualify for student financial assistance.
I have also worked on bringing more vocational education opportunities to our high schools and serving on a select committee working with the gifted programs. As a school board member, I will focus energy on our trades and encourage students to consider a career path in these related areas.