To all who have publicly shared their concerns on academic matters – I hear you …

District 5 candidate
Los Alamos School Board

Because I continue to see these expressions over and over again, I wanted to take the opportunity to validate and engage with public statements regarding academic issues in our public schools.

To all those who have shared their feelings publicly; I hear you, I understand that you are frustrated, I can sit down with your frustration, you are allowed to feel what you feel.

As a clinician, I have come to practice a “yes and” approach. Basically yes one thing is true. And another thing may be true and need attention and care at the same time. Yes, the academic needs and challenges are valid, they deserve attention, they deserve care. AND emotional safety, understanding and care for all students, especially those belonging to traditionally oppressed groups, need care and attention.

I ask you to consider that mental health and socio-emotional safety and academic performance are not two separate issues. A disconnected child is a disengaged child. In my clinical and graduate studies, I learned that the main reason a student leaves school is because they don’t feel connected to their school. Examining our school’s academic performance from a point of deficit can be detrimental to our students, teachers and staff. Instead, if we as a community examine how safe and connected our students feel, we can find the answers to academic success.

Our schools’ strategic plan emphasizes mental wellness, we have excellent resources in our district to facilitate this. Our schools are already prioritizing safety with the Safe and Civil Schools program. Our educational leaders are deeply passionate about student success. Mental wellness, safety, inclusion and equity will pave the way for educational environments in which all students thrive. When a child feels secure and wanted, that child will excel. These are not separate needs or issues. Academic success is not possible in a stressful and arduous environment.

Finally, I want to encourage everyone to vote in this election. Early voting begins on Tuesday October 5 and the last day to vote is November 2. On the ballot, you will see the selections for your district school board. Vote for someone who represents the best interests of all students, although I encourage you to vote for me if you live in District 5.

You will also see a very important obligation, the Public Schools Construction Act (commonly known as HB33), this obligation will provide vital funding to our schools and will not increase taxes. Also on the ballot are candidates for the UNM-LA advisory board. Alissa Grissom, Laura Woodring and David Hanson are all valuable and incredible candidates.

Finally, I encourage everyone to attend the League of Women Voters forum which will take place on October 6 via zoom.

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