I believe the Tempe Union High School administration has worked diligently to ensure a quality education for the students of our area. While attending board meetings during the last two years, I listened to many presentations by the administration.
These experiences gave me an appreciation of their commitment. I also actively participated as a member of two specific District Committees and a policy setting retreat. These experiences have shown me the dedication of the teachers, staff and administrators of our district and their desire to providing schools that benefit our greater community.
We also have a new superintendent, Kevin Mendivil. I have met with him and I have seen him in action. I am looking forward to great things from him. I believe Dr. Mendivil will implement many measurable procedures and important new policies. His actions will greatly benefit our students and schools.
While participating in board meetings, district committees, a retreat, and visiting various high schools, I have found two areas that I believe we can do better and I would focus on as a board member.
First, we must do better in helping students at a younger age engage in discussions of future career avenues. One area of my focus will be vocational education and delivery of those opportunities. All my adult children attended and have graduated from college.
But, I also recognize that not all teenagers are college bound, and that there are many worthy careers that do not require a college degree. In America’s evolving economy, there are great jobs in various areas including computer coding, medical care, construction, robotics, automotive, cosmetology, public safety and firefighting.
I believe we do not provide enough discussion and encouragement for such careers. I would work with the administration to come up with programs to discuss such vocational educational opportunities in the sophomore and junior years.
Also, from my recent visit to the site council meeting at a local high school, I learned that we are not doing enough for students in the sophomore year to help them prepare for college, or consider vocational track programs.
I believe we should have discussions with students starting in their sophomore year on vocational based programs and also on careers with college requirements. Waiting until the senior year to have these discussions is too late. We can do better.
Second, many of our community has been impacted with teenage suicide. This topic is very personal to our family as two of our daughters had friends commit suicide within the past few years. Last year alone, there were some 34 teenage suicides in the greater East Valley area.
I have worked on this issue through the mental health and wellness committee of our district. From what I have learned, I believe we need to evaluate our resources and develop a matrix for delivery of counseling and emotional wellness.
I would work with the community, administration and our staff to ensure resources are properly allocated, direct lines of responsibilities are set, and our counselors have the support they need.