I'd like to ask for your vote for school board.
Here are responses to four key questions I've been asked:
1. Why did you decide to run for school board?
I decided to run for school board to give back. I attended Lopez school from third grade through graduation. I feel a sense of gratitude to the community volunteers who served on the school board and helped steer the institution back when I was a student, and to the generations of board member who have done so until now. My own kids are in high school and middle school. Over the past five years I have been a frequent volunteer in classrooms and as a volunteer tutor to students. I've also served on the board of the Lopez Island Education Foundation (LIEF) that provides small grants to teachers so they can do cool educational activities inside and outside the classroom that the state school system doesn't pay for.
Being on the school board for these next few years means I can do more to help improve the institution that will be launching all of our community's kids into their lives as adults.
2. What is the biggest challenge facing the school board?
I have attended a number of school board meetings in the past several months and at these meetings it is clear that there are a few important challenges, all of which need to be addressed. I can't say which is the biggest challenge.
One important issue has to do with technology. Raising kids these days in the age of laptops and smartphones feels like uncharted territory. Last year the community generously stepped forward to approve a tech levy, and these funds are being used to upgrade digital technology and provide instruction for teachers and students in its responsible use. This is essential... and tricky. The challenge is to learn to use appropriate technology appropriately, and to do so in ways that enhance and do not undermine critical thinking skills, civility, creativity, and connection to nature. I understand that mistakes will be made. We're all learning. My hope is that as a school board member I can help Lopez school move forward with compassion and eyes open.
I am excited about finding ways for the school and broader community to have more educational and creative interaction. The LIFE program and activities around local food have helped nurture a connection in that regard. Kwiaht's involvement in the science program is another, as is work by volunteers developing a 3-D printer that reuses plastic bottles from the dump as feedstock. The Community Shakespeare program brings together the school and community to put on amazing plays, and IMPACT does the same for music. I'd like to find other ways that the school can tap into the deep expertise of the Lopez community, and that the broader community of adults can learn side by side with students. Greg Ewert's work leading outdoors programs is a lasting inspiration in that regard. I'd like to find ways to resurrect and support a similar program
Other issues include the relationship between the administration and the teachers union, and the relationship between the school and the community.There are some tender issues and conflict that our board will have to navigate carefully. I'm enthusiastic to step up to the plate to listen and understand all sides and try to find a way forward,
3. How does your background prepare you for serving on the school board?
My primary strength serving on the school board is the ability to listen and understand multiple perspectives. I have a lot of experience as a team player, sometimes leading, sometimes supporting. I'm not afraid to speak out when I disagree or have a vision for a better way, but I'm also well aware that we accomplish the greatest things when we work together.
My background includes growing up on Lopez, studying physics (Reed College), traveling and working in rural villages in India and Guatemala, working as a carpenter on 20 homes on the island, attending graduate school (PhD in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley), building solar projects on Native American reservations and a wind farm in North Korea, extensive work with governments in Asia and Africa on regulations to support clean energy, living in Thailand for nearly a decade, raising kids on Lopez, and volunteering with the Lopez School. My background is diverse and broadly reflects the kinds of challenging, interdisciplinary, globally-connected work that the next generation of adults will need to be engaged in if we're going to survive as a civilization. And it has honed a diverse skill set that I believe will complement the skills and vision of the accomplished, passionate, hard-working, and generous Lopezians who serve on the school board.
4. Will your international work make it difficult to attend school board meetings?
I'm on Lopez the vast majority of the time. In 2017 I have had only five trips off island that lasted more than a day or so. Three were work trips in Asia, each for around two weeks. One was a week-long trip to Oregon, and one was a trip to the snow for a few days. I expect to be on island for nearly all school board meetings. And for the rare times I'm gone, I'm able to join by video call or phone pretty much wherever I am -- just as current board members regularly do.