‘I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.’ – Lily Tomlin
I am the proud daughter of an elementary school teacher. She always taught me the incredible value of strong public education. I used to help her set up her bulletin boards and move classrooms; I would watch her stay up late grading papers or heartbroken about the struggles of one of her students; I saw her utter joy as former students would get in touch with her and tell her how their lives have gone. I also experienced the incredibly hard work she put in to get her masters degree to become an assistant principal. It is when she took up that job in Vista that I first experienced a school board meeting for myself.
I was 14 years old. I went to the school board meeting because my mother’s school had been given an INCREDIBLE federal grant to help the students (and families) most in need. Not only did it add free/reduced breakfast to their school, but it created their school as a hub for wraparound services. It was a simple concept: help local families in need by having a social worker on campus to guide them through the myriad complicated applications for services. And I watched in horror as the board voted to reject the grant because “people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” It was, in a word, devastating. I saw that day how a school board had the ability to influence the community they serve. I vowed to serve on a school board someday. I went to every single school board meeting for the next four years. And I served as a student rep on the district’s restructuring board.
I went to UC San Diego to get my degree in Theatre and went on to work in costumes for The Old Globe, The La Jolla Playhouse, and other theatres in San Diego. I eventually moved to LA for a few years to work in film and television and try to establish myself. But the call of family back in San Diego County brought us back in 2013. We moved into our “forever home,” which was my mother’s childhood home and has been in my family since it built in 1951. My husband, Joe, and I were blessed with two amazing children. And we settled into a life in Chula Vista, surrounded by family and friends, with me costume designing at local theatres. I volunteered to serve on the PTA board at our children’s school, but I hadn’t really considered running for school board at that point. My political involvement was mostly relegated to impassioned pleas on social media and showing up for protests.
Then, in 2016, my frustration with the chaos of government at the federal level drove me to realize that I didn’t have the power to change my country, but I could work to make my own community the best it can be. I turned back to what I always knew I wanted to do. I decided to run for the school board of the district my family would spend a collective 12 years being a part of – the Chula Vista Elementary School District.
I started going to every meeting I could. I watched what was happening in our district with new eyes. At this point, I had moved up through the PTA and was already serving as a member of the board of the Chula Vista Council of PTAs. I served as the DAC (District Advisory Committee) representative for our school. And I was still the President of the PTA at our school. In my positions, I found myself advocating for parents and families. I was finding ways to bridge the gap between school and home. I was helping parents navigate processes that were confusing to them. And I saw that there was a need on the school board to have a strong advocate for parents representing them and having a vote.
Changing the world for the better begins with teaching our children to be the best versions of themselves they can be. Beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic is an entire world of development that public school offers. We have the ability to teach empathy and compassion, to teach integrity and justice, to teach personal responsibility and critical thinking skills. School also represents a second family to so many students in need. Teachers are on the front lines of the battle against the problems that their students are facing. They act as social workers, mental health supports, referees, surrogate parents, and general first responders to kids in crisis… all of this on top of their curriculum expectations. This is why it is so incredibly critical to give schools mental health professionals and other school support members so the teachers can focus on the rest. My platform is designed to do that and more.
- Prioritize our children’s mental health during the shared trauma of living through COVID-19
- Protect the Arts so that we do not forget who we are
- Push for curriculum that is not just “inclusive,” but is anti-racist and anti-biased
- Fight locally and in Sacramento on behalf of increased spending on education
- Strengthen the home-school partnership by bringing the parents’ voice back to this board
- Advocate for better support for our students with special needs and their families
- Support fairness in contract negotiations with our teachers & classified employees