Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!
Life is full of twists and turns and today, we shall celebrate a twist!
For my steady followers, you might find yourself yawning during this blog but I encourage you to stick around. While you have pieced together my personality through my writings, and I have shared snapshots of my life, we are going to delve into who the woman behind the keyboard really is. I invite you to take a peek.
It’s a bit long, but stay the course.
Besides being a successful blogger, mom, sister, friend, daughter, and business woman, I am also a school board trustee. Interesting, right? If the answer is no, kills me to say but you might want to scroll past this latest post and I promise for continued entertainment in my next blog. Pinky Promise!
To my delight and surprise, I have found that the teachers in my district are directing parents to my blog. Wowza! I’m a lucky girl. I have about 95,000 views on my blog currently and I’m hoping my hometown peeps will push me over that 100k threshold. Repeat after me, YES WE CAN!
Now that I have a new found, extended hometown audience, I just want to give a shout out. Welcome people.
Let me tell you my story, rather than the myth behind the legend. Let’s talk facts.
Like any good Italian mother, my mother drilled certain things into my head and they have carried over to adulthood. Don’t put shoes on the table because it’s bad luck. Don’t open an umbrella in the house. Always tell the truth because the truth is never wrong and be a leader, not a follower.
I grew up as an independent thinker. I never succumbed to peer-pressure and honestly, was never one to follow the crowd for the sake of popularity. I’ve always been a forward thinker, problem solver, peace maker and a strong advocate for the underdog.
I grew up in a broken home with older siblings and my mom. She worked her ass off! She worked full-time and attended college full-time at night all in effort to provide for her four children. Despite being exhausted, and having limited to no funds, she always took me to see local high school plays, ballets and operas. She instilled in me the love of the arts and I share this passion with her.
Before baby #4 came along (that’s me, baby #4) my mother volunteered as a 4H leader and was a Cub Scout leader. She has and still does have a strong belief in volunteerism.
Growing up, I was always the student that didn’t have a parent in attendance at school events, due to my mother’s working obligations. Since we had no money, I could never participate in after school activities.
For sake of anonymity, I’ll use just first names. Kristin was a year older than me. She was a pretty blonde girl, very popular, perfect family and she strut the halls of our elementary school with her green Girl Scout sash. I wanted a Girl Scout sash too! I ran home to ask my mother if I could be a Girl Scout. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have the money and that couldn’t happen. While disappointed, I never held a thing against my mother. She was doing her best and I appreciated it all.
Everyone WAKE UP! Hopefully you’re not dozing off. There is a reason I’m giving you these examples. I have core beliefs and I contribute them to my upbringing. I’ll refer back to this a little later in my blog, good reason to stick around.
For the sake of time, boredom and a limited word count, let’s fast forward.
My first child was entering kindergarten at the very same school I went to. It was surreal! She would now be walking the same halls I did. Sidebar: I never attended kindergarten because it was part-time back in the day so I was enrolled in full-time daycare. While I did skip kindergarten and can’t attribute that to my uncontested smarts, I did skip 11th grade. (Silent applause lol)
I knew I wanted to be an involved parent and be part of my daughter’s educational journey, as with all my children. I immediately volunteered for class mom, assisting as the teacher directed. I attended every PTA meeting and my thirst for knowledge and information was palatable. I asked a zillion questions but some just couldn’t be answered.
This is where I made a choice and my path veered toward leadership. I sought information and there was no one there to provide it upon inquiry. So I took it upon myself, to attend educational sessions sponsored by the PTA to learn the rules, guidelines, procedures, and bylaws. I became an encyclopedia. I wanted to share the wealth of information I acquired.
I soon chaired events, held various positions on the PTA executive committee and ultimately was propelled to President. I navigated my way through the schools with parental, teacher and administrative support. We were a team, all with the same end goal in sight, educating the whole student and making a difference in a child’s life, including my own.
I was a Girl Scout leader for seven years during my daughter’s entire tenure at the elementary school. I was also a Boy Scout leader though that didn’t last long due to my son’s lack of interest lol! I wanted to afford my children every opportunity that I didn’t have.
If you were to ask those that worked with me, I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you that they thought I was fair, knowledgeable, accessible, calm, understanding, compassionate, passionate and student driven.
I made many initiatives with support of the committee I served with that I am enormously proud of and some still continue today. Just a few examples are Red Ribbon Week, PTA teacher grants and after I chaired the auction committee, our PTA solely funded the new basketball courts, benches and all the murals you currently see in the school today.
After exhausting my goals on the PTA, the next natural progression was the School Board. Like PTA, I have been attending school board meetings since my daughter was 5. She is almost 21 now. I listened at these meetings and asked questions. It quickly became apparent at the get go that the big decision making for our children’s education happened at this level. I found it mind boggling that I was sometimes the only parent in attendance.
Are you still with me? Let’s talk school board. Why do I serve?
I am a lifelong advocate and volunteer. I believe serving on the school board is one of the greatest acts of volunteerism. I serve for betterment of our community and as an investment into our future, the children. This district has educated me and all my children and I want to give back as it has given so much to my family.
I totally believe in lending a voice to those children who do not have one. For the children’s parents who are indigent, for those that have immigrant parents with language barriers, for those with special needs. I want those children’s voices to be heard as well as the general education child.
My childhood has prepared me for all of this. My heart is big, my compassion is boundless and my urgency for inclusion is pressing.
Ok ok ok ok…I’ve gone on and on. Let me catch my breath! Condense Wendy, condense!!! Wrap it up.
While staff or parents may become focused on a specific issue, it is important to recognize that issues come and go within any school district. What is a priority today for a parent or teacher may not be tomorrow.
Being a trustee is a multi-facetted job. It is a fine line as we are elected to represent our constituents but we are employers to the staff of a district. Every decision by a school board is made in the best interest of the student. Sometimes people lose sight of that and become distracted or focused on a single trustee when truth be told, we work and vote as a unit of seven. No one speaks individually for themselves but rather for the board as a whole. We are one voice.
Before I was elected on the school board there were times I got frustrated as a parent and couldn’t understand why an action wasn’t taken when the solution seemed obvious. My blinders came off the minute I walked into that board room on my first day. There are so many moving parts, and confidential information which weighs-in on any decision made by the unit.
We create policy, procedure and the vision for the district. We also have a responsibility to ALL voters; singles, parents, empty nesters, and seniors. We work hard to keep programs intact and our teachers employed all while keeping taxes increases to a minimum.
For those that stand in judgment and wag fingers or look for minutia to attack, ask yourselves, are your actions in the best interest of a student? Are your motives with the student in mind or are your motives clouded by your own agenda?
I’m a fact seeker, let’s throw out some facts about me:
- I love children.
- I advocate for children.
- I believe in educating the whole child.
- I believe in exposing our children to the arts and thus, fight to keep a very successful theater program in place.
- I believe in fairness, transparency and truthfulness.
- I believe in open-mindedness and thinking out of the box.
- I believe in exposing corruption and untruths.
- I believe in volunteerism and giving back with no hidden agenda.
- Lastly, I believe everyone should be an independent thinker, making decisions based on fairness and track record.
What I’ve also been exposed to as a parent, PTA member and board member are that labels get thrown around quickly and quite often unfairly. As in life, not everyone will see eye to eye in the education world. Parents begin to walk on eggshells for fear of being labeled anti-teacher. What’s unfair about this quick call for condemnation is often times; these very parents are the ones whom volunteer in classrooms, volunteer at school events, buy teachers gifts at holiday time and end of the year. These are parents who entrust their children with the teacher day in and day out and rave of their child’s success and growth. These are parents who believe they are taught by outstanding educators and brag to anyone willing to lend an ear. These are parents who want the very best for their child. A disagreement doesn’t constitute an anti-teacher position. Why do I know so much? Sadly, some have attached that label to me.
Wow, Debbie Downer! Ok group hug. Bottom line is I love my children more than life itself. I love my school district which I have been in for 46 years. I love my teachers even though occasionally they don’t always have love for me and I love being your voice on this Board of Education! Each and every vote I cast is not of my individual perspective, it’s a vote I cast for YOU, my constituents, and the actions I believe you would support and want.
So hometown crew, listen up! Rally the troops and get out there on May 17, 2016 and vote for me. Show me the love!
Big thank you to anyone that has read this blog or any other to date! I’m proud of my writing. Teacher’s let me know how I’m doing on grammar, sentence structure etc.. I’m open to it lol! Know that not every blog is for every person but give it a chance, be that independent thinker and maybe, just, maybe you’ll even find that you like them! Peace out!