Meet the TUHSD Governing Board candidates - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

Meet the TUHSD Governing Board candidates

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Posted: Friday, October 22, 2010 8:00 am | Updated: 10:42 am, Tue May 29, 2012.

There are five candidates campaigning for two open spots on the TUHSD Governing Board. Mary Lou Taylor is the only incumbent candidate while Robin Arrendondo-Savage, the current president of the board, is not running for reelection.

Mary Lou Taylor (Incumbent)

Taylor is running for reelection on the TUHSD Governing Board. She was a public school teacher for 38 years and is the founding President of the Tempe Chapter of "Dollars for Scholars" which gives thousands of dollars in scholarships to TUHSD students. Taylor holds Bachelor and Master Degrees and is also the owner of "Lulu's Moonfish Boutique" in Tempe. You can email her, marylou.taylor39@gmail.com.

1. Have you ran for TUHSD Governing Board before and, if not, why did you feel now is the time to do so? I have been on the Board for the last eight years. I want to see fruition, and/or tweaking (if necessary), to projects and programs put in place during my tenure.

2. How have your work and life experiences prepared you for the challenges of governing one of the state's top districts? The last forty-four years of my adult life experiences and relationships have occurred within the Tempe Union High School District. My three daughters and their husbands are products of Tempe schools and ASU. Also, my 38 years of teaching elementary through high school is not overlooked by TUHSD stakeholders.

3. If elected, how do you see yourself fitting in with the current member? The current board and I work very well together. Although we sometimes have differing opinions on matters, our discussions are amicable and respectful.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the TUHSD community and how are you preparing to tackle that challenge? Preparing our students for college and the work force of the 21st century. My record will show that I have, and will continue, to make sure our teachers have the latest, fastest, and most appropriate technology. To get the most bang for the buck, it is time for our ancient school calendar (three month off!) to be changed to an extended school year that is similar to Chandler Unified .

5. What is your favorite subject when you were in school and why? In elementary school it was reading. I became, and continue to be, an avid reader. In high school I especially enjoyed English because of the writing and book reports.


Sandy Lowe

Lowe holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Welfare from the University of Minnesota. She has 18 years of business research experience through the Arizona Public Service Company and 15 years of volunteer education experience. She has lived in Tempe for 23 and has two sons. Her website is www.SandyLowe.com.

1. Have you ran for TUHSD Governing Board before and, if not, why did you feel now is the time to do so?

Since my sons entered school, I have been interested in education; and thus over the last 15 years, I have been involved with their schools and districts. I have served on major committees in our districts and community, and today I feel I have a good working knowledge of Tempe Union High School District and the issues we face in education. I began thinking of running for this position in 2008 but wanted to wait until our youngest graduated. I knew that the 2010 election was the time for me to do this. I have the experience, time to dedicate to this position and desire to serve this community, especially our students, in this way.

 

2. How have your work and life experiences prepared you for the challenges of governing one of the state's top districts?

From working side by side with teachers, parents and administrators from our seven schools on committees and our Foundation, I have had the privilege to learn about each of our schools and how they address the unique needs of their school-site community. I understand what our schools face in terms of addressing facility and classroom needs, as well as making sure every student receives a quality education. I know it's critical to attract and retain the best educators. As a parent and president of the Parent Network, I'm aware of parent concerns and priorities for their children. Over the years, I have seen a number of issues arise in our community and understand some of the important strategies needed to make sure that concerns don't become issues. Including all stakeholders in decisions which are based on research/best practices, providing relevant and timely communication to the community and "listening" to people's questions and concerns are just a few. It's a priority for me to work with everyone that wants to be involved in the education of our students.

 

3. If elected, how do you see yourself fitting in with the current members?

I believe we can all work together for the good of our students. I personally would always keep an open mind to not only other board members' input, but the community's as well. Our mission to provide excellence in learning and teaching must involve consensus on important issues and understanding that it's about "our" vision for our children. Even though board members bring unique experiences to this position, the common denominator is that we care about education and with that, I know that I would be able to work with anyone that serves on this board, works in this district and/or who is a part of our community.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the TUHSD community and how are you preparing to tackle that challenge?

There are several, but one is addressing the individual needs of each of our students, given budget constraints. It's critical that we understand what each student needs to experience success in these 4 important years, whether it be additional mentoring/tutoring, enrichment or extra guidance as to future goals and how to achieve them. We have to make sure that we are maximizing every dollar, preserving the quality programs that are successful and changing those that may not be as effective as originally thought. Business partnerships, grants, and other resources are very serious options in order to continue to provide choices for our students. We are fortunate to live in a community that understands the importance of education and thus supports our bonds/overrides. I will always be open to new ideas and suggestions as to how we can improve.

5. What is your favorite subject when you were in school and why?

I love to read, so the English classes that required reading novels were some of my favorites. In college, I enjoyed Psychology and Sociology classes because I'm interested in the reasons why people behave the way they do. I also enjoyed the Statistics classes which gave me insight into analyzing large amounts of data and making sense of it all. Throughout all my school years, dance was also a big part of my life.


Dave Wells

Wells holds a PhD from the University of Southern California in Political Economy and Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts in both Economics and Mathematics with a minor in Education from Bucknell University. He is currently a senior lecturer at Arizona State University. His website is www.Wells4Schools.com.

1. Have you ran for TUHSD Governing Board before and, if not, why did you feel now is the time to do so?

I have a passion for improving education, which led me to run. The timing works perfectly as two of my children now attend Marco de Niza, which means I have direct experience with the concerns of parents, and my children are now old enough to take on more responsibilities at home.

2. How have your work and life experiences prepared you for the challenges of governing one of the state's top districts?

I'm an award-winning educator at Arizona State University. When TUHSD students graduate, many show up in my classes, so I know what they'll need to succeed. I'm on the cutting edge of the use of technology in education, and have a deep understanding of the complexities and demands of the teaching profession as well as educational policy in the state.

3. If elected, how do you see yourself fitting in with the current members?

I have strong relationships with existing governing board members, and, if elected, plan to meet with my colleagues to discuss visions and challenges. I've run into many former board members for the high school and elementary districts on the campaign trail, too, and have sought their advice as well.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the TUHSD community and how are you preparing to tackle that challenge?

Helping every student find success requires developing innovative ways to make parents partners in their child's education, while placing our teachers in the best position to succeed. But the context at Desert Vista is very different from Tempe High. If elected, the first thing I'll do in November is schedule time at every school to listen to concerns, and develop the relationships necessary for the district to work as a team. I'll also be a leader in making the board more accessible to those it serves by improving the details in board minutes, working to make agenda items accessible on line, and using Facebook and my web site to facilitate access and discussion.

5. What is your favorite subject when you were in school and why?

Math provided an exciting analytical challenge to me. Finding the correct answer reinforced my interest. I also found it to be a creative tool that could be applied to evaluating sports teams and ballplayers, doing well in board games, and by the time I reached college, making sense of the economy.


 

David Schapira

Schapira, who is also running for state senate, graduated from George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He has taught at the high school level and he was an instructor at Arizona State University. Schapira was an aide to US Senator Tom Daschle and was manager of Terry Goddard's 2002 campaign for Arizona Attorney General. His website is www.DavidforAZ.com (Senate campaign website).

1. Have you ran for TUHSD Governing Board before and, if not, why did you feel now is the time to do so?

I have not run for the TUHSD Governing Board before. I'm running for the TUHSD Governing Board because I want our local high schools to be the best they can be. I believe that I can use my background and experience to help make that a reality. I've seen Arizona schools from the perspective of a student, a teacher and a legislator. I'm also a parent who plans to send my child to Tempe schools. I want her to have the best educational opportunities possible.

2. How have your work and life experiences prepared you for the challenges of governing one of the state's top districts?

I have seen the way education works in Arizona as a public school student and as a teacher. I have worked on education issues for four years as a member of the Education Committee in the Arizona Legislature. I have also seen the products of Arizona public schools as a faculty member at ASU. Improving education in Arizona has been the mission of my life. I hope to have the opportunity to continue that mission at TUHSD.

3. If elected, how do you see yourself fitting in with the current members?

I have a working relationship with all five sitting members of the board as well as the superintendent. I will also bring some new perspectives to TUHSD as a sitting legislator, ASU faculty member and as someone who has recently taught in public high school classrooms in Arizona.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the TUHSD community and how are you preparing to tackle that challenge?

Due to cuts to public education made by the Arizona Legislature, it will be the responsibility of school boards to stretch every penny coming into school districts. I will do my best to keep as much money in the classroom as possible so as not to negatively impact student learning. Keeping great teachers in the classroom is a serious challenge we face in these tough economic times. We have to make sure to offer competitive wages and benefits. We also need to provide for positive work environments and the resources necessary for teachers to do their jobs. Also, because of hiring freezes and the effects of recent cuts, our class sizes are growing in some schools. Even the best teachers face serious challenges with classroom management when our class sizes climb above workable numbers. We must provide our teachers and students with a school environment conducive to student learning.

5. What is your favorite subject when you were in school and why?

My favorite subject was American Government. I think our democratically elected representative republic is perhaps the most interesting system in human history.


Duane Washkowiak

Washkowiak holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Political Science from Lewis University. He has previously served as president of the Dobson Ranch Kiwanis Club and chaired the Site Council at Marcos de Niza High School. His website is www.DuaneWashkowiak.net.

 

1. Have you ran for TUHSD Governing Board before and, if not, why did you feel now is the time to do so?

No, my first time. I am concerned about the state of education and its importance to all of our communities and to the future. I feel that with my background I can assist in making a difference and that is why I have decided to run. We can do better than we are doing.

2. How have your work and life experiences prepared you for the challenges of governing one of the state's top districts?

With my background in both Corporate America and in working with consumers in what is important to them in finding a home to raise their families as a realtor - I feel I can assist in helping the Board to address the key issues of Student Achievement and building strong community linkages. We need to focus as a team, parents, students, admin, community, to address the issues using technology more effectively and in preparing students with life skills they will need. My background in leading realtor organizations and in City and in serving on Boards will help to focus on key Strategic goals. My goal is to make things better in everything I do.

3. If elected, how do you see yourself fitting in with the current members?

Having served organizations with as many as 30,000 members as President and in serving on Board of Director's with as few as 13 members - I have the experience as a contributing board member to work with many folks and find common ground for the good of the students and organization. I seek common ground for the benefit of students in preparing them to face life's challenges - that should be the approach.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the TUHSD community and how are you preparing to tackle that challenge?

The effective use of resources is the most pressing issue in my opinion. There will continue to be pressure on Budgets and we need to make sure we are getting the Best results we can for dollars invested. My background can assist in these key areas to find solutions which impact the Student and all stakeholders in a positive manner..

5. What is your favorite subject when you were in school and why?

Math and History. Math because of its precision and history in learning the past and making sure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

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