When I went back to work after I had our son, we went through several care providers, including one who quit her very first day. So I well understand how critical it is for working parents to have access to stable, safe, enriching after-school care. That's why a top priority of mine is expanding access to the Extended Day Enrichment Program, or EDEP. The work day does not end when the school day does. Though this program is self-sustaining, its supply falls short of the demand. On the School Board, I'd push: Couldn't we serve more families?
The opportunity gaps in Albemarle County Public Schools for some of our students who are black, Hispanic, economically disadvantaged, English language learners and/or have disabilities are wider than those same gaps across the Commonwealth. We aren't serving all of our students well. Examining and finding ways to close these opportunity gaps is another top priority of mine. We need to focus on that basic goal, and attack all the ways these disparities manifest, including discipline gaps, identification for gifted programs and SOL scores. The district is making some overdue progress; how can we make more?
Research shows that a diverse teaching staff improves outcomes for all students; Albemarle's teachers are 90 percent white, with several schools without a teacher of color. As a person who grew up never once having a teacher who mirrored me, I'd prioritize finding ways to attract and retain high-quality teachers who are representative of our students. And I would support professional development for our teachers and staff as they serve all our students.
And I know that in this role, I myself would need to be a lifelong student. So I would prioritize learning as much as I can from each of my constituents — parents, students, teachers, administrators, staffers and other community members.