Why I Joined SBDM
“Improving student achievement through family engagement. ALL families”.
You can stop reading now if you are short on time!
I figure all goals should be brief like a mantra. Above is mine for anything I do for LPAS. Volunteering in class, tutoring, helping with events, working on community projects, coaching the cross-country team, or working with this SBDM Council.
It’s good to have a mantra - because as a representative or a leader, I’ve learned the hard way you spend a lot of time diving deep into comments, questions and concerns. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture, the big goal. A mantra like this is a guide star.
Family Engagement for All Families
Family engagement for ALL families is my goal. Since joining the LPAS community 7 years ago, I’ve seen what it can do to raise up students and families alike like a great tide. When families connect with other families, that’s a community. Community is incredibly valuable: if you can achieve “community” so many more students thrive and succeed.
But it’s also precarious - most families are only there for 6 years, and there’s a constant outflow of graduation and a constant inflow of new families. To keep a dynamic community like this healthy and thriving, it requires a lot of planning and a lot of work. It also requires a dedication to principles (and princiPALs) to make it work.
In my day job, I’m a “strategist” meaning I spend a lot of time listening, researching, collaborating, planning things to get people engaged with for- and non-profit organzations. What I’ve learned is that you have to have values and principles baked into everything you do, or it just won’t work.
The shared concepts that make engagement work
- Transparency: One part being open, the other part listening and responding to the needs of your community.
- Authenticity: Walking the walk and practicing what you preach. Every. Day.
- Equity: Making sure everyone in the community is not only seen and heard, but that they are represented.
I think for the first two concepts, LPAS scores highly, but work will always be needed.
I think for the third - equity - LPAS (and JCPS…and Louisville) could do better.
Where I think the LPAS Community needs to go
LPAS, like most magnet schools, is diverse by design. (See for yourself!) More diverse racially than Louisville itself, thanks to white flight to private schools. The makeup of the staff and the administration, their attitudes and actions have in my (admittedly white-male) perspective done a great job of making LPAS an inclusive, respectful and equitable place to learn.
Yet, family-involved groups (SBDM, PTA, volunteering) are not and have not been reflective of the same diversity or actions. This has been acknowledged to me personally by a number of people, but with the same wearied frustration I’m sure you’ve heard before: “We’ve tried, but…” But what?
Working to ensure equitable representation and opportunity is large issue - larger than LPAS or JCPS, but it’s one where schools can have an outsized impact. Schools - and specifically magnet schools - are unique places because they cross over the boundaries created by years of institutional segregation of race and economics. Elementary schoools specifically are places where many new parents come to find “their people” and forge new relationships through this shared experiences.
It’s only six years, but it’s a crucial six years. And if you are committed to the community - an ever-changing, flowing, dynamic community of families present and future - then ensuring that all families are represented in your ranks and in the decisions you make is important. And I’d stake that it’s just as important as working for your child and the children of your friends for the time they’ll be at LPAS. But what about those coming into the school next year and 6 years later? How will it change for them?
So then I ask for you to get involved and if you are involved, consider ways to help make the deeply involved community at LPAS look more like the student and family population at LPAS.
I get that this position is bold - but I’ve been in or around Louisville and JCPS my entire life, and frankly I’m tired of the lazy segregation we take for granted in this town. It’s robbed us all of relationships, opportunities and experiences uncountable, and I’ve been too long ignoring that fact.
I think public schools can be a place where this change begins, and I think we are largely on the right track. But it will take work.
This is my statement:
The involved LPAS Community (volunteers, council members, etc) should look as much like it’s student and family population as possible, in all demographics: race, gender, geographics, and economic situation as possible. It doesn’t right now, and that means we’ve got work to do.
I stood for this as the coach of our cross-country team, and I stand here now for the same as an SBDM rep.
My power to affect this change directly is limited, as is the time I have on this council. So then, I want to use what I have to move us forward and engage MORE families because I know the benefit that has to students and families both. This “blog” is part of that. There will be more.
So then - what is it that I’ll do to help this?
Well, an SBDM Parent Representative my capability and focus is limited to the following: school policies, school budget and staffing and some hiring (most notably principal hiring). Those things carry great weight and import - but they aren’t everything. In-class, day-to-day and those things that JCPS has outright control over (admissions policies, for example) are things outside.
Beyond that, there are privileges that you have granted me in electing me. A requirement of being a representative is being available, listening, and guiding. I’ll do those things and I will implore other representatives do the same. I will also push to ensure that everything the SBDM does is as accessible as possible - meetings, notes, actions.
Finally, I will provide the school and the district with the insights I have as a parent and a professional strategist on ways to improve family engagement.
And yes, I’ll keep up with this blog as a document of my time, but also as a guide to those who come after me who are curious as to what SBDM is all about.
We’ve got a long way to go, but that’s the work. And I’m here for it.
As always, do not hesitate to contact me. I want to hear from you, because that’s the job of representation.
Love you all! See you soon…
(You can see my candidate bio I submitted, along with all other nominees, here.)