I am 46 years old and have always wanted to be part of education, teaching young children how to learn and how to fit in in an ever-changing diverse society. Children need social skills, support, authentic assessments, differentiated teaching, and a teacher that has the autonomy to develop their own timeline to better enhance each child’s learning. My tenets for a successful education begin with autonomy.

 The autonomy to teach according to how their students learn instead of following a strict timeline with a curriculum that meets a very small subgroup of learners.

Principals need the autonomy to hire teachers that will enhance the school and community. We need to expand the decision-making to include admin and teachers instead of the current top-down model used today. Principals need to develop core relationships with their staff in order to be able to properly evaluate the effectiveness of their leadership. Teachers work best together in designing lessons based on a curriculum that is developmentally appropriate.

Today, with ESSA, there is some room for improvement, but we need the Florida Dept. of education to realign their focus so it is on the children, not on the bottom line. Schools should not be run like a business, with politicians and test companies making the decisions that affect local classrooms.

 Every student deserves an excellent education with arts, music, physical education taught alongside math, English, and science. I believe in STEAM, not stem, because without arts, there cannot be any creativity in developing science and math skills.

Children need social capital as well as cultural capital, but the current model of education is focused on developing test-takers. The FSA cohorts of today will be limited in their scope of critical thinking and true analysis of literature and life skills. I plan to use policy  to enact changes that will give power back to local stakeholders and drive big business out of the classroom.                                                                    

I have been advocating for my children and other’s children when it comes to school and have been successful in implementing change. I have gone to the school board, written numerous emails, openly spoken out about unfair treatment and inequities in education, and worked alongside teachers and parents to ensure the interest of the children is at the core of decision-making.

I can do more as a school board member and with the right leaders beside me, we can make a change in Duval that will positively affect all the students, improve moral of the teachers, and create an environment where we can all feel good about sending our children.

 I believe we have a choice to make and that choice should be public education;  it is the backbone of our country and worth the fight.

Dern for Duval