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During my first three years of service as a Blairstown Representative for the North Warren Regional Board of Education, I've had the opportunity to learn more about the school and the community that NWR serves. As a lifelong resident of Blairstown and alumna of NWR, my hope during my first term of service was to ask questions, find ways to contribute to the effective management of the school, and collaborate with my fellow Board members and the administration on issues central to the school and our community. It is my ultimate hope that this work emphasizes our goal to to provide students with an outstanding educational experience that prepares them to be lifelong learners and influential contributors to society, both during their time at NWR and beyond.
North Warren Regional continues to face financial challenges related to State aid cuts. While the fiscal losses have been tremendous, the teachers, administration, and staff have been resilient and creative in re-imaging ways to streamline budgets while still prioritizing academic excellence. The administration has also been proactively applying for grants and submitting proposals for stabilization aid. Strategic plan development as well as a facilitates audit have provided an important framework for responsibly managing expenses long-term and defining areas of focus.
2. Community Engagement:
Outreach and communication have been essential to cultivating community partnerships, encouraging collaboration between the municipalities, and establishing and shared sense of responsibility between NWR and its sending districts. Over the past year, this has been a growth area as our administration has sought broad community input on strategic plan development, attended town council meetings, and implemented a volunteer program. As the school works to create positive relationships with all its stakeholders (parents, community members, students, and educators), this will ultimately reinforce a sense of belonging and collaboration.
Because the physical plant of NWR is an aging facility, there are a variety of projects that will need to be addressed in the coming years to keep the campus safe, secure, and able to support the academic and extracurricular activities of its educators, students, and community partners. These include new boilers, Media Center updates, repairs to the auditorium and Middle School roof, as well as Wellness/Fitness Center and visitor bleachers upgrades. Because this impacts the financial picture of NWR, a facilities audit has been helpful in defining priority areas and strategies for building these costs into the budget in a fiscally responsible way.
As a lifelong resident of Blairstown with over a decade of experience working in higher education, I feel uniquely equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities of this educational moment and aim to bring this experience to the role of NWR BOE member. As a librarian, educator, and instructional technology team member, my experience blends an emphasis on teaching and learning, paired with innovation and digital approaches. This is a calling that began when I was a student at NWR. In high school, I worked across the street at the Catherine Dickson Hofman Library. It was there, with the guidance and mentorship of library staff, that I developed my passion for community building, public service, research, and preservation. I worked at CDH throughout college and eventually graduate school, continuing to build on those formative vocational experiences and the academic interests first sparked by the teachers, coursework, and extracurriculars at NWR. I felt drawn to run for the Board for a second term because of a continued desire to help shape and be informed about educational and public policy at the local level. Ensuring a dynamic and resilient public school system is critical. It is my goal to bring this background and experience to the role of NWR BOE member for a second term. I hope to be an asset to the BOE team and aim to advocate for the betterment of both a high school and community I am deeply rooted in and committed to.
During the past three years of my NWR BOE tenure, I have gained experience as chair of the Finance committee, current member of the Facilities committee, and past member of the Policy committee. As the current Vice President of the BOE, I participated in teacher contract negotiations and collaborated with Board colleagues on the appointment of our current Superintendent Dr. Dutt. As Board members we participate in yearly trainings, Board retreats, and professional development opportunities that help provide additional information and preparation for Board work.
The strengths and achievements of NWR are truly reflective of the students, faculty, and staff that make it possible to provide meaningful learning experiences. In service of this, the administration has engaged in an extensive and community focused strategic plan development, placed an emphasis on data-driven decision making, incorporated principles of social emotional learning, and cross departmental collaboration. The art murals, the theater productions, the sports teams, the academic curricular opportunities and clubs (just to name a few) all showcase that a lot can be done with very little in part due to the creativity and ingenuity of the students, educators, and administrators of NWR. One of the best things about being a Board member is the opportunity to hear directly from the students and educators about not only the challenges our district and community are facing, but the achievements and successes that are accomplished in spite of those challenges.