BA in Telecommunications from Ball State University
CLU, ChFC, CASL designations from The American College
Educated in Indiana Public Schools (South Bend & Goshen)
Years as a Fishers Resident? 7
Community Involvement Activities
Mentor with Youth Mentoring Initiative (YMI)
Mentor with HSE Finance Academy
Assistant Coach/Sponsor with Mudsock Sports
Active Member of New Hope Presbyterian Church
I spent 10 years in leadership roles with State Farm Insurance, leading teams of 40 Agents. I was responsible for hiring and coaching all agents. It was a unique role because of the setup... I had to use inﬂuence to get results as State Farm Agents do not have production requirements. Now, I have returned to an agent role so I could be with my family more often and lead a local team of risk managers.
1. What is your number one reason for wanting to serve on the school board?
I want to support all students and ensure students are the top priority when making every decision. We moved to Fishers because of the quality of our schools. I want to help build on that tradition and expand the offerings available to our students. Our students should graduate with multiple options for pursuing their dreams, whatever those dreams may be.
2. What role does policy play/have in the function of the board?
Policy making is one of the key functions of the board. Last year, the board came under scrutiny for the decision making process regarding our non discrimination policy (a policy I support wholeheartedly). As a board member, I do my best to consider the potential impact that policy has on our students. In my experience, when approaching a decision from that lens, it is not a signiﬁcant challenge to determine which way to go. Prior to COVID, the board had been working through policy bundles, making minimal updates as needed or when recommended by our legal team. I appreciate this approach so we are regularly aware of the policies being used by the district.
3. What legislative action at the state level would you support to improve education in our community.
I have learned as a school board member that there are often decisions that look simple from the outside, but actually have layers of complexity. If that is true on the school board level, there is no doubt it is even more true for our state legislators. Without taking time to understand the intricacy of each issue, I hesitate to offer strong opinions on state legislative issues. That said, I would ask more questions about
2 topics... the first is funding. HSE is one of the lowest funded districts in the state and I wonder if the current setup is equitable. This could lead directly to better pay for educators, which I believe is important to retaining more teachers. Additionally, I would ask about the law that requires school districts to sell abandoned property to charter schools. I don't believe this is in the best interest of students and want to better understand if it can be adjusted to achieve its purpose without tying the hands of public school leadership.
4. What do you think is the biggest issue facing your district?
I believe communication is the biggest issue for our district. I believe the lack of quality, consistent communication is responsible for escalating challenges within the district. The superintendent is responsible for leading communication in the district and should have a team approach to communications at all levels (considering both grade level communications and those to stakeholders like staff, parents, partners like Mudsock Sports, the YMCA, or YMI, and the community at large). The ultimate responsibility is to ensure the communication is not only delivered, but also received. I believe this is an area where the ball has been dropped... a comment at a board meeting, even though it is being live-streamed, is generally not sufficient to consider a point communicated.
The discussion of changing school start times is a perfect example. At one meeting the superintendent mentioned that this topic had been mentioned previously over the course of a couple years. I absolutely believe that to be accurate. However I don’t think that is enough... too many people aren’t going to receive that message. A change of this magnitude should be communicated using multiple venues (board meeting, district newsletter, school newsletter, staff announcement, open forums, podcast, social media). It is our responsibility to communicate, not the community’s responsibility to seek the communication.
Further our district has a tremendous amount of positive stories to tell. Many of them are being told, often by various media outlets. When this happens, it should be celebrated on social media and via a newsletter... we should be helping amplify those positive stories. We should be seeking those stories and encouraging media partners to tell those stories more often. No doubt there are classes at both high schools in the business and English departments that could and should be a part of this effort.
In addition a thorough written communication protocol would benefit all buildings within the district. Earlier this year, one of the high schools sent a survey to seniors about graduation, sharing information that had not been shared at the other school. In addition, that information wasn’t shared with parents. This caused significant concerns on multiple levels. A detailed communication plan would lay out which stakeholders need to be consulted before communicating. In my opinion, anything being sent to an entire grade level should at a minimum be reviewed by the school principal. That principal should also consider if this message might have an impact on another building (because that question would be listed on a detailed communication protocol). The graduation survey fiasco could have been entirely avoided. The team leading that effort did not have proper guidance on all of the items they should consider prior to their communication.
No doubt the list of opportunities from a communication perspective could go on. Which roles within the district are responsible for communicating? Who needs to be looped in before a communication is released? What questions might be asked after this communication and should the be addressed within the communication? There are lots of questions that should be considered on a regular basis.
So, what’s the board’s role in communication? Hiring and holding the superintendent accountable for communicating in a manner considered satisfactory. The board also holds significant influence. We should use it by asking good questions and challenging district leadership when necessary. Change won’t be overnight, but I have seen improvement over the last 8 months. I expect that improvement will continue.
Side note... I appreciate the partnership with OneZone and the opportunity to share the stories of the HSE and Carmel districts each year... I think that is an excellent way to connect with the community.
5. If you were elected what one thing would you like to accomplish during your term?
This is a tough question... my responsibility as a board member is limited in this regard... I'm 1 of 7 and we're responsible for hiring the superintended and he leads the district.
That said, there are a couple things I'll focus on. The ﬁrst is improved communication. That was addressed in a previous question. Another is reviewing the usage of each of our buildings and determining if the current setup is most advantageous for our students. The perfect time to do this is when we redistrict due to the opening of our new elementary building in Wayne Township. I'd like to see a feeders system from Kindergarten through 12th grade and believe there may be ways to accomplish this with redistricting. Finally, there have been racism issues within our district recently. The board will be tackling those issues soon, but the work will continue into the next term. A key, for me, is hiring a more diverse workforce, one that more closely mirrors our student population.
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