SARAH LINDSAY JAMES

Students in OR grads of TU schools: I am an alumna of Tempe High and my children (8 and 12) are future Corona students.

Occupation: Teacher

Years in district: 9

Educational background: Bachelor’s degree in Music Education, graduated from ASU in 1999; Master’s degree in Music Education, graduated from ASU in 2003.

Community involvement: Volunteer with Save Our Schools AZ, member of the School Improvement Advisory Committee at Aprende Middle School.

What top three skills would you bring to the board? I have 22 years of experience as an educator, and have taught at all levels - K-12. I have taught in the Tempe Union HS District, New York City Department of Education, and Mesa Public schools. I understand education from the perspective of a teacher, mother, and education advocate.

Why should voters vote for you? It is vital to have the voice of an experienced educator with a proven track record of advocating for public schools. While we currently have board members who advocate for educators, the insight a teacher is invaluable. I also have the additional insight of raising two children in our schools, so I can also provide the perspective of a parent.

Has the pandemic affected your view of a governing board’s role in general? If so, how? As a teacher and parent working through this pandemic, I have seen that it takes a community working together to support our students. Many families are struggling through remote learning, often because of limited access to childcare and to technology. we must put these issues at the forefront of our decision making so we can empower all of our families.

Assuming COVID-19 will be with us indefinitely, does Tempe Union need to do something it isn’t doing now to ensure a quality high school experience for students over the next four years:

Where academics generally and preparation for higher ed and/or the job market are concerned? The goal of the district should be focused on how to get in-person instruction happening safely. Part of that is ensuring all students have their own laptop and supplies. Even in a face to face situation, much instruction and work will likely be done online to ensure the safety of students and teachers.

Where students’ social-emotional wellness is concerned? Many students are dealing with anxiety, depression, and trauma. I’ve noticed how much harder it is for teachers to pick up whether a student is struggling while learning remotely. Our district can help mitigate these issues by hiring more counselors and social workers who can reach out to students and help teachers learn best practices with a trauma informed approach.

What is the biggest challenge confronting the district that must be addressed within the next two years and how would you address that challenge? Planning our budgets will be a huge challenge. We will need to keep in mind that our schools must be equipped to both educate our students and provide them with opportunities outside of academics - we must educate the whole child. I would ensure we focus our budget on retaining the best educators and programs that will most benefit our children.

If funding became a critical issue for the district in the next two years, would you be more inclined to cut programs or raise taxes? Why? Our constitution guarantees Arizona students a public education paid for and improved through taxation. Over the years we have continually cut taxes, leaving our budget without the funding education desperately needs. When used appropriately, taxes can uplift our communities. I support Invest in Ed and hope to see a dedicated source of funding for education in AZ on Nov. 3.

Knowing what you know now, would you vote to extend Dr. Mendivil’s contract beyond June 2021? Reviewing the contract of a superintendent is one of the most important a school board has. As with any job review, our superintendent deserves a review based on past performance and district data - I will bring a fair and objective point of view to the process.

What is the one area the district administration is addressing in an exceptional manner and why do you think that? As the district is faced with reopening, I have been impressed with their commitment to seeing the district as “one family.” Each school is unique, but we are all Tempe Union. We must ensure we are looking after all of our educators and students in the district and know that we are working together to keep our community safe.

In what 3 areas has the current board not met your expectations and what would you do differently? I will work to serve all students and communities. Everyone should have access to district announcements and events- there should be Spanish translations, ASL, and closed captioning wherever possible. I will also strive to empower our educators so students have access to the best a teacher can give. Finally, I would like to ensure schools feel like community centers again.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.