The modern workforce has changed in ways that I would never have imagined as a child, or even in my early adulthood. In keeping with this rapid progress, our education system needs to become better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that await our students after they graduate. Similarly, our businesses need to know that the workforce they require will be available and ready to help them innovate in an increasingly competitive global economy.
Quality education can make the difference between our children achieving their dreams and having their potentials squandered. It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child any longer; it takes a connection to a global network. The talents of teachers, the additions of modern technologies, the participation and empowerment of parents, and close collaboration with our local and global community- are all crucial bricks on our children’s educational journeys.
My first involvement in education was as a parent with two children in the Evergreen School District. This experience led me to look to contribute to policy and planning, and I chose to pursue and ultimately was elected and served as president of my local Parent-Teacher Organization.
In my next role, from 2010 until November 2013, I served as vice president of the Evergreen School District Foundation. I was humbled to have the responsibility of bringing people together to work towards having Evergreen become one of Washington’s best school districts. We placed resources strategically within the district’s budget to foster innovation by growing the budget six-fold, fostered community connection by creating new partnerships with the private sector, and brought inspiration and imagination to our students.
One of our students was a Slavic girl who dreamt of becoming a software engineer. Our foundation was proud to give her a scholarship that enabled her to attend college and go on to intern at a world-class producer of semiconductor silicon. She was determined and self-directed, but it also took her teachers and community to help her dream and progress in her path to become a software engineer and to make her Russian speaking parents proud.
Another story that I cherish is from Ellsworth Elementary. This school had 65% free and reduced lunch, too many students at risk, and many with troubled home lives. I was given the project of organizing a carnival at Ellsworth and I made sure my team would put together the best carnival possible. We had three large inflatable slides, bounce houses and other bouncing toys, a traditional cakewalk, and a dunk tank in which the principal and teachers were the featured guests. For three hours students and their families could have the time of their lives. I volunteered fourteen hours for that event and went home bone tired. But the greatest payment I received was the comment that was made to me from a parent, “I will never be able to take my kid to Disneyland, but what you guys did for them tonight will be the highlight of their summer break!”
Since I have become a parent, each one of the roles that I’ve held in the education system has given me a unique perspective towards policies that our schools need to create the best future generation for each and every one of us. Through my experience as a PTA president and school district foundation Vice President, I have come to see that our teachers need proper compensation for their vital work. Our schools need proper funding that provides advanced learning, art supplies, and technology for the fast-changing world. And our education policies need to enable local control that brings the kind of merits and the immense opportunities that set our children up for lifelong success.
As a parent, I saw firsthand how important education is to students’ long-term prosperity and well-being. And today, I am proud of my two children Ellie and Evan who are both in college. Ellie is a senior at the University of Washington, studying English. And Evan is a double major at the University of Southern California of Voice and Violin.
Being a parent also led to my dedication to education policy that helps our community thrive. As a PTA president, I understood the power of parental involvement. And as the vice president of the Evergreen School District Foundation, I learned the importance of community and business partnerships in supporting the entire system. Each of these roles helped me see how people at the local level help contribute to the school district’s positive results and the individual successes of its students. Yet today, too many decisions about students happen in state capitols, where politicians and bureaucrats are more and more removed from our community.
With your vote, I hope to bring your voice to Olympia as the State Representative for Legislative District 49.