It is always advantageous to have actual educators on local school boards along with other community stakeholders.
Michelle Fahy, an educator with 36 years of experience, is looking to continue her service on the Kyrene Elementary School Board,
First elected to the board in 2016, Ms. Fahy is a strong advocate for public education who wants to make the Kyrene District a special place for children.
If re-elected, Ms. Fahy will work to:
- Help the stakeholders in the Kyrene District transition from the turmoil that hindered education during the Coronavirus.
- Narrow the achievement gap between demographic groups.
- Continue the equity work to support students and staff
- Improve the financial and working conditions for instructors and school staff.
- Promote an up to date curriculum and resources that all stakeholders in the district will benefit from.
Ms. Fahy graciously took the time to discuss her qualifications and goals for serving a second term on the Kyrene School Board.
The questions and her responses are below.
- What are your qualifications to serve on the board?
“I am starting my 36th year in public education. I began my teaching career as a special education teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland in 1985. When I moved to Arizona I was a special education teacher at Apende Middle School in Kyrene, then moved to general ed and then became an educational technology trainer for the last 13 of my 19 years in the Kyrene School District. I am now starting my sixth year in the Tempe Union High School District as their Instructional Technology Coordinator.”
“I believe a school board should have members with a variety of experience and skills. I bring a variety of experience, knowledge, and expertise in teaching and public education to my role as a Governing Board member.”
- Please tell us three reasons you are running for the school board?
“I believe strongly in public education. Public schools educate 95% of Arizona residents and these students deserve a quality education. As a school board member, I can help to guide the district in maintaining quality educational experiences for all our students. I will continue to fight with the state legislature to properly fund public schools. I support educators and can provide a voice for them on the school board.”
“As a district, Kyrene does very well. We have high achievements that always outperforms the state. However, we have an achievement gap that needs to be addressed. Our students of color and our students with special needs perform far below other students and we, as a district, need to continue to work towards closing these gaps in achievement.”
“We need to continue focusing on having competitive, appropriate wages for our teachers, administrators, and support staff so that we can attract and retain the best educators.”
- How would you rate the current school board you are running to become part of and please explain why?
“I am currently on the school board in my fourth year. I’ve seen some changes in how our Board performs in recent years when we got a few new members. As a Board, members actively listen, seek to understand the issues, listen to our constituents, and try to make the best decisions for the district and its community. I believe it is important to ask questions and dig deeper when information and decisions are presented to the Board and feel that we could continue to work on having more in-depth discussions before making final decisions that impact the district, the students, staff, and community.”
- In your opinion, what are the three most important education issues schools and all stakeholders in the district face?
- “To hire and retain quality teachers and staff.”
- “To strategically allocate District funds to best support instruction and learning in the classroom, guided by analysis of systems, procedures, and services.”
- “Provide up-to-date quality curriculum resources that utilize research-based, effective teaching strategies to address the Arizona academic standards.”
- What are your views on the implementation of the district reopening in the fall? Or for summer?
“I believe it will be important to continue to take guidance from public health officials to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our staff and students. At this time, we do not plan to provide direct services to students in June. We are awaiting further guidance before making decisions for the start of school but are actively planning for multiple scenarios and different opportunities for students/families who may have concerns about returning to a face-to-face environment. If we return in person, we will need to address the needs for social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing, and addressing a variety of strategies to keep employees and students safe.”
- To what extent should Kyrene ensure all students have access to high broadband and a laptop/tablet for virtual learning should the fall opening be delayed?
“This recent closure certainly highlighted a need in our district. We have been working on equity issues over the last year but have not yet addressed equity as it relates to technology and Internet access. If we have any kind of blended learning or online learning options we will need to have strategies in place to not only get devices into the hands of every student but also get broadband Internet access to students who currently don’t have it. Because not all had Internet access during this closure, we had to create and send out paper packets to many students. This created some inequities, as some students were able to communicate with their teachers regularly while others were not. This kind of learning environment does not provide a long-term solution so we will need to invest in our students by investing in devices and Internet access options for those students who need it.”
- In your opinion, please advise at least one way the Kyrene district should make up for any of the lost learning time of this last academic quarter?
“It will be important that the district has a clear plan for assessing students when they return. We are already involved in completing a gap analysis of key skills that students would have learned had they been in school all fourth quarter. We know that what was taught during school closure will not be sufficient, particularly in some courses like math where content and skills build from year to year. We will need to have pre-assessments ready to go at the start of school and pre-built lessons that can be assigned to support individual student skill loss. There are a variety of strategies that could be deployed including some summer online learning opportunities to bolster student skills before they return. A more personalized learning approach in the fall will be important to address the individual needs of students.”
- Is there anything not covered in the first seven questions that you would like the reader to know?
“ I want to make my home Kyrene a special place for children. Good community schools make good neighborhoods. I want to do what I can to help children and teachers be successful. I want to be able to help do that for my community. “
For more information on Michelle Fahy and her candidacy, please click on her webpage Facebook Page below.
Twitter – @mbfahyaz
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