Dr. Tom Nerini has lived the American Dream.
A descendent of Mexican and Italian farmworkers who have lived in the western part of Maricopa County for the last century, He has risen to become a well-regarded and acclaimed school counselor in the Phoenix Union High School District.
A person who has earned an Associates (through Mesa Community College) a Bachelors in Psychology, a Masters in Counseling, and a Doctorate in Education Leadership.
He has been serving on the Maricopa County Community College Governing Board since 2018 and is now running for a full four-year term.
Saying that “my entire career has been dedicated to helping students’ access and succeed in education… I am running for the Governing Board to ensure that MCCCD
remains a strong and vital gateway to economic security for the individual and the source of a well-educated workforce necessary for our community to compete in the 21st century.”
Dr, Nerini graciously took the time to discuss his candidacy to remain as a member of the Maricopa County Community College Governing Board.
The questions and his responses are below.
1) What are two reasons you would like to run for election for a seat on the Maricopa County Community College Governing Board?
- “I am a school counselor at Phoenix Union High School District (Franklin Police and Fire H.S.) and I have a vested interest to make sure the students do well and enroll in a good college program for them. My ground-level understanding of students is a much-needed perspective on the board.”
- “Making sure the faculty and staff have the resources needed to provide students the high-quality education they deserve.”
2) What are at least two accomplishments from your time on the board that you are proudest of?
- “Restoring shared governance. In 2018, prior to my being elected, the Board voted to do away with the 40-year-old Meet and Confer policy. This effectively eliminated the voice of those with the most direct contact with students; the professors. In January 2019, with a new board, we passed a resolution restoring shared governance and created FACT (Faculty and Admiration Collaboration Team).”
- “The Taskforce on Course Fees. Twice a year the board must approve any changes to course fees. I was concerned when I saw some fees increasing by up to 400%. I understand that additional funding may be required if professors are going to provide students the high-quality education they deserve. My question was, are course fees the best and most transparent way to do this? I’ve had students register for a class and pay tuition only to have to drop the class because they couldn’t afford the course fees. The Taskforce is looking into alternative methods to fund courses that are more transparent equitable to all students.”
3) In your opinion, please describe at least two ways the board should handle reopening the community colleges and regulating (if possible) social distancing?
- “Safety first. We need to give the students options for enrollment and how they take classes (online or in-person; real-time like the hybrid model.) Students should feel comfortable with the options and not be penalized, and their education not be hindered by the method they choose.”
- “This crisis has given us the opportunity to rethink how we schedule and conduct classes. We need to at least consider different delivery methods, like either eight-week sections, block scheduling, and more year-round options.”
4) If re-elected, what are at least three non-COVID 19 important issues the board should consider?
- “Keep moving forward with shared governance.”
- “Focus on promoting diversity and equity and addressing systemic racism. Provide professional development to recognize systemic racism when it occurs and what can be done to eliminate it.”
- “More focus on retention. Students need to know they are valued by providing and promoting the support services they need to succeed. We want to make sure the students have the resources they need to achieve their goals and are ready for the next step in their lives.”
5) Is there anything not covered in the first five questions you would like the reader to know about you or your candidacy?
“I want people to know that, I am the students we serve. Growing up in a Chicano household in South Phoenix, my parents didn’t understand higher education, but they valued it. Growing up they attended segregated schools while working in the fields in the West Valley. When I graduated high school the community college was my only option. Like so many of our students, I had no role models or mentors for college. Unable to navigate the financial aid process I had to work to pay for school and help support my family. To say I struggled is an understatement. I owe a great deal to the faculty at PC and MCC who became my mentors and made sure I had the support I needed to graduate.
“Earning my Associate’s degree was nothing short of life-changing. It has been the most valuable achievement of my life.”
“I am a school counselor at Franklin Police and Fire High School, which gives me an important and unique insight into the needs of students, whether they are planning to transfer to a university or pursuing a certificate program.”
“I am running for reelection to the Governing Board to make sure the Maricopa Community Colleges remain accessible and affordable to ALL individuals in our community.”
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