To inform readers about the candidates seeking their votes on the November ballot, the San Antonio Report asked all candidates to answer the following questions. We edited answers for clarity, not substance or grammar, and we did not fact-check responses. We restricted responses to 200 words for each question.
Read other candidates’ answers here.
North East ISD, District 4
Link to campaign website:
What is your educational background? Where did you go to school growing up and what is the highest level of education you completed?
Oak Hill Elementary; O. Henry Junior High; Stephen F. Austin High School in Austin TX (AISD). Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
If you have completed higher education, what degrees or certifications have you earned and from where? In what years did you complete these degrees or certifications?
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture; Texas A&M University; 1998
What is your current occupation, employer, and job title?
Landscape Architect; Rialto Studio, Inc.; Senior Associate
List any previous elected offices that you held and the term you held that office. List any elected offices you sought and the years you sought those offices.
Why do you feel you are the best candidate for the office you are seeking?
Serving on the school board has solidified my passion for the educational community I serve. I am proud of the decisions we have made to position NEISD as a destination district over the past year. I have the temperament to work closely with six other individuals to make decisions for all 60,000+ students by asking hard questions, engaging in discussion, and leaving my personal biases at the door for the greater good of NEISD. This is not a political stepping stone for me. I am proud my children go to schools within NEISD and do not feel the need to send them to a school outside our district. Our community is passionate about their neighborhood schools, and I am honored that they have put their faith in me to represent them on the NEISD Board of Trustees.
What three issues do you feel are most important to your constituents?
The constituents of District 4 want great schools and teachers, equity in facilities and programs, and transparency from our administration. The students and parents I encounter are passionate about our neighborhood schools. They want to see increased enrollment and success in the classroom, as well as in competitions. They also want to have a voice. Since I have children enrolled in NEISD, I see firsthand the work that parents, teachers, and staff are putting in to support our students and promote schools within District 4. We need to continue increasing classroom innovation at all levels and hire/retain great teachers in our classrooms. I will continue to fight for the schools in our community and be the voice for the needs that our schools have.
If you are elected, what will be your top priorities once you take office?
My priorities for the coming term are as follows:
1) Classroom Innovation – through my involvement in the North East Educational Foundation, I have seen firsthand how innovative learning is being integrated into the daily curriculum of our students. Teachers and counselors are utilizing virtual reality, sensory rooms, and community gardens to address student needs in academics and social-emotional learning. It is my goal to keep our students engaged and prepare them for the future.
2) Mental Health/Social-Emotional Learning – Students today are faced with a bombardment of 24/7 information. With this comes the feelings of stress, anxiety, and at times an overwhelming sense of isolation. We need to create environments where students AND teachers can succeed. School should be a safe place to learn, grow, and explore.
3) Hiring/Retaining teachers – we need to understand what lures teachers away from our district, and learn what will keep them or draw them back. NEISD needs to continue to be a destination district and taking care of our teachers is a key component.
For incumbents: What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time in office? Is there any vote or decision you would change now looking back?
The accomplishments I am most proud of during my time on the board are: no increases to health care premiums for employees, approving bus driver pay raises, supporting implementation of Student Voice, advocating for the new high school rank policy, reducing the property tax rate, approving the new cyber security/robotics facility, and making the decision to hire Dr. Sean Maika as superintendent. In addition, we have recognized countless students in fine arts, athletics, and academics through their accomplishments at local, state, and national competitions. NEISD continues to place students in positions where they can be successful and showcase their talents to a wider audience. I would not change any of the decisions I have helped make during my time as a Trustee.
For non-incumbents: Would you do anything differently from the current representative holding the office you’re seeking?
How do you assess your community college district or school district’s performance during the pandemic and the way it served students?
NEISD adopted a much more robust curriculum and online learning platform than was available at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. At the time, NEISD was given roughly one week to completely change the educational model that had been in place for decades. We learned and we grew. The changes from Spring to Fall are noticeable to students, parents, and teachers with increased engagement and accountability. The district has also worked hard to feed our students, provide infrastructure to support technology and online learning, and ease the transition back to opening schools. Not everything is perfect, and there is always room for improvement, but the dedication from thousands of individuals to innovate and adapt has created an atmosphere which serves our community in the best possible way that it can during this time.
How will you approach budgeting for your district given the economic uncertainties? What are your budget priorities you would want to keep intact?
As a board, we have made fiscally conservative decisions over the last two budgeting cycles to provide NEISD with some immediate financial stability (even with daily changes the state rules by which we are to operate). However, if the time comes to evaluate a proposed budget amendment due to unforeseen shortfalls, we will need to take a hard look across the board at ways to become more efficient. My goal is to keep our commitments to teachers and support personnel as much as we are able; and find ways to continue placing our students in the best possible position for life beyond our schools by keeping things like programs, curriculum, and facilities intact.
How do you plan to work to overcome academic gaps that may have developed or widened during the pandemic?
I will continue to support the phase-in plan adopted by the current Board of Trustees, which provides a measured approach to opening schools. Our priority should be getting the most at-risk students back into classrooms as safe as possible; which we are doing and must continue to do. Face-to-face learning is critical for many students in closing the academic gaps that our extended delay has caused. I also think that a test like the STAAR exam (or similar) might even be valuable in gauging the size of the learning gaps, which allows us to then focus where our resources need to be provided. This test should NOT be used as a tool to punish or promote specific aspects of the district, but truly a measure by which a baseline assessment can be obtained. With those results, we can ascertain performance gaps by school, grade, and subject to better prepare for subsequent years.