Dayton Daily News Questions and Answers
How long have you lived in the school district?
My Wife and I moved to the school district after becoming foster parents in 2018 because we wanted to have a better school district for the children that would come into our home.
Bachelors of Fine Arts in International Theatre Technology from Ohio Northern University
This can change at a moment’s notice due to being foster parents. Currently, it is my wife Heather and myself, and our two daughters, Kayley and AJ. We fostered and then had the honor of adopting our girls in September 2020. One attends Springboro High School and one attends Warren County Career Center. We also have our furry, hairy, and scaley family members: Maya (Dog), Salvador Meowli (Cat), Hugo (Belgian haflinger horse), and Zire and Mikhailo (2 betta fish).
Why are you running for a seat on the school board?
That’s simple, the students. We, as parents, readily express our opinions about the schools and teachers, but has anyone sat down and listened to what our kids are saying and asking for? I am the dad of two very strong minded and opinionated teenagers. Their thoughts matter. The students are the ones who are in the thick of it daily and their voices are important because they are affected by the decisions of the board. This is why I want to see more involvement from our students through the implementation of student representatives for the board of education. What better way to provide a safe, positive, productive, and nurturing educational environment for our students than to have their voices be listened to and respected as a part of the board of education? This idea of the student representatives on the board of education, means that they would apply with an application, an essay, two teacher references, a principal reference, and two peer references. Ideally, these need to be students who are involved in a wide range of activities, but can also commit and take the position seriously. This group will be a part of making sure Springboro is supplying the best education possible. The student representatives will be able to tell the board about actual struggles they, and their peers, face in the classroom with inclusivity and technology. This is also another way to be able to provide support to our teachers and staff. The district will not be able to grow successfully without focusing not only on how and what we are doing now, but how and what we can do to better support our students, teachers, and staff in the future.
What past or current experience do you have related to schools — school employee or contractor? school board member? degree in education or related field? school volunteer? parent? Other?) Please explain.
As a parent, I have volunteered in many ways through the schools and community. In the fall and anytime throughout the year, if a collection for the teachers is done our family will donate. We have donated hand sanitizer, tissues, snacks, etc. throughout the years. In spring of 2020, when the pandemic hit, I put out a call to my friends in the tech world for chromebooks. I was able to collect or purchase 15 new or refurbished chromebooks. I made these available, for free, for any family or student that reached out to me from my social media posts to ease the technology strain Covid-19 put on students and parents. In fall of 2020, when two teachers were having sound recording issues I bought and sent in two lapel microphones they could wear while recording their lessons to help the Model B students. The lack of basic technology should never be a barrier at Springboro and if I could fix it quickly then I just stepped up to do it.
Currently, as a parent of two juniors this year, I’m working with the After Prom committee. I built and donated the costs of a website (BoroAfterProm.com) to be able to take their fundraisers to the next level. AfterProm can now sell fundraiser items and collect donations electronically. My wife, Heather, and I are currently running the Flock-a-Friend fundraiser and all, but one order, has been submitted through the website!
In the past, I have also had the opportunity to be a contracted school employee. I worked with and taught kids in high school drama programs about the technical aspects of live theatre (carpentry, lighting, sound, rigging, stage make-up, and even stage combat).
What are the two most important issues facing the school district, and why?
An important issue we face as a district is being more fiscally responsible and transparent. We have to be looking at what we are doing now and what impacts it will have in the years to come. We need to make sure that we prioritize spending in the correct places while cutting costs in others to maintain the best educational environment possible. Our students and staff should have technology available to them when it’s needed. Looking back to the Model B option, I was told by parents that they chose to send their kids to school due to the lack of reliable internet, or even enough technology in their homes to allow them to stay remote. This basic technology should have been readily available to our students, even prior to the pandemic. A lot of homework and classroom assignments require technology. This is one of the reasons I worked with my network of friends and personally funded chromebooks to anyone who needed them. When my daughters couldn’t hear two of their teachers I spent $30 and supplied those two teachers with lapel microphones. It was an easy fix and the school should have been supplying the teachers with what they needed to make Model B as best as possible. We need to have more transparency to show accountability on spending within the district to rebuild trust.
Another important issue is bullying and discrimination within our schools. I know this because I have watched my children struggle not fitting in and being bullied. The board and community have heard countless reports of incidents. As a district we need to be able to recognize various forms of bullying and discrimination, from race, gender, sexual orientation, special needs, disabilities, financial means, and even to family and personal background. As a district, we need to work on building an inclusive foundation through the education and training of our students, teachers, and staff to give them the tools to recognize and handle these real life circumstances. If we are not providing a safe and positive educational environment for our students, teachers, and staff, their mental and emotional health will suffer, making it harder for them to be successful in our schools. We need to double down on all efforts to provide the resources needed to help our students, teachers, and staff. By adding student representatives to the Board, we will be giving them a safer platform to speak about the bullying and discrimination that they are actually seeing in our schools.
What defines success or failure for a school district? What information should we use to decide whether your district is doing a good, bad or average job?
When determining the success or failure of our school district, we need to look beyond the standards of report cards, standardized tests, and graduation and college acceptance rates. We need to be focused on our students’ needs every day of the year and be sure that we are setting them up for a successful future. That means not just looking at the long term goal of high school graduation, but making sure short term goals are being set too. A school system should be ready to provide the support needed for every student. We need to be pinpointing the students who may need additional educational services, such as being identified as gifted, needing a 504 plan, or needing an IEP, and making sure we follow through with that in a reasonable amount of time. If students aren’t tested in an early grade, but a need becomes evident we need to be ready to help with that as well. It became abundantly clear to our family when we had to push for 504 and IEP accommodations for our girls what a struggle it can be when the kids aren’t in elementary school anymore.
Additionally, we need to make sure that the district is providing support to our organizations where we can. Programs like our sports, STEM, and the arts, are all important for our students to build required life skills for their personal growth. We should be proud of each and every one of the organizations, and show it. Not only does the school need to show support for these organizations, but the other students do too, and we need to teach them that. I have seen this in person when the football team stayed out after a game to watch and support the marching band. This is a glimpse of what success for a school district looks like, when our students are supporting others in what they do. Finally, a large measure of success comes from our alumni. If we can provide a great educational experience for our students, they will be proud to say they are a Springboro Panther!
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