“I believe strongly in the ability of all children to succeed if they are given the opportunity. Opportunity comes through educational equity and looking closely at how we're supporting students across the district, regardless of zip code. I serve on the Jeffco school board to advocate for policies and practices that address the needs of ALL kids, so that every student sees their future in Jeffco through high-quality college, career, and community readiness from early childhood through graduation. To get there, the district must remain focused on keeping resources and support as close to kids and classrooms as possible, particularly in times of budget reductions, leadership transitions, and priority setting. We must also build upon the mental health and social-emotional supports provided to students so that they are able to learn and to succeed.” - Stephanie Schooley
What is your motivation to be a member of the Jeffco School Board?
My motivation to serve on the Jeffco board of education stems from my lived experiences centered around a core value for me: educational equity. I believe strongly in the ability of all children to succeed if they are given the opportunity. Opportunity comes through educational equity and looking closely at how we're supporting students across the district, regardless of zip code.
I serve on the school board representing District 3 to advocate for equitable policies and practices that address the diverse needs of Jeffco students. I have two kids in Jeffco schools, have served as the co-president of the school PTA, have served on the district's accountability committee, and have been a vocal advocate for transparent processes in district decision making. I have a 20-year background in higher education and K-H partnerships and focused on conflict resolution and community organizing for my graduate degree. These connected experiences make me a strong advocate for schools, for families, and for kids.
What is your vision for education in the Jeffco community?
It is my vision that all students see their future in Jeffco through high-quality college, career, and community readiness from early childhood through high school graduation. I believe that we must focus on 21st century skill development in addition to content mastery for our students to succeed in our rapidly-changing world. Eighty-five percent of the jobs our kids will have after graduation do not yet exist.
Our communities need strategic thinkers, collaborators, individuals who can work across difference, and innovators in order to thrive. My vision is an engaged educational experience for all students that teaches them what they need to know and how their learning is connected to the world around them.
How can or does a district attract and retain quality teachers?
Jefferson County is an amazing place to live, work, and play. We have a responsibility to educators and support staff to provide competitive pay that allows individuals the ability to live in the communities in which they work. The district must continue to prioritize the people who make our schools great through pay that is competitive with surrounding districts.
We also need to continue fostering a climate and culture of respect and professional recognition for educators and administrators. One strategy for doing so is through professional development and investment in the continuous learning of educators. Professional development focuses resources on the keys to student success - their teachers and support staff. The district cannot achieve its vision and goals without an investment in educators.
How would you handle individual or special requests if approached by a member of the community? Special interest groups? Teachers?
I have a history and practice of collaboration across diverse groups and individuals. In my professional life, listening to the needs of stakeholders on campuses and within communities, bringing people together in solution-focused dialogues, and developing programming and next steps based on best practices and learning is central to what I do. I will bring these skills into my role on the board of education, listening to the needs and challenges of individuals and groups, convening diverse voices to contribute ideas, and bringing forward the very best of those ideas for our kids. I may not always make decisions that are unanimously supported but I will be thoughtful and open to all possibilities, keeping the learning and well being of Jeffco students front and center.
What is the role of a Jeffco School Board member?
The role of school board member can look differently to some than to others. As a member of the Jeffco Board of Education I believe we are thought partners with the superintendent to pressure test ideas, to challenge assumptions, and to support decisions that are in the best interest of the district. This can all happen in a collegial way that opens conversations and possibilities where they may have been stifled previously. Board members are also charged with ensuring accountability in the performance of the superintendent.
To administrators, I believe board members set priorities based on listening to the needs of educators, school support personnel, families, and students. It is the responsibility of board members to check district policies, funding priorities, and vision with the real needs of schools and communities. Members of the board of education can reinforce those priorities and set a high standard for organizational culture and leadership.
Any decision made through a board of education should answer the question, “Will this decision make it more effective or efficient for educators and school staff to meet the educational and social-emotional needs of students?”. I believe strongly in community-informed decision making and do not think five members of a board of education should make decisions that affect 84,000 students without the input of educators, support staff, and school leadership.