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School board candidate Jacqueline Marciniak

Jacqueline Marciniak, candidate for the GASD Board of Education, provided the Mohawk Valley Compass with the following information:

Occupation: Associate Director of Public Relations at MVP Health Care
Age: 46
Married with four children

Why I am running for school board:

Our educational challenges and the decisions that our administrators are facing are far more complex than they once were.  My goal is to bring a fresh perspective to that decision making process.   I problem solve on a daily basis and I review every situation with an open mind.  My approach is simple, I insist on having all of the details surrounding an issue in order to make the most informed, equitable decision.

Innovation

Our students need to have options available to them to ensure they receive a high quality education.  Creating a comfortable, safe environment for our students is key to their success.  Not every student can learn in the same way.  Traditional methods may work for the majority of students, other students may need new, creative, more engaging solutions to help them succeed.  As a school board member. I would strongly advocate for professional development opportunities for our teachers.  I believe we need to help our teachers find new, innovative approaches for students with additional needs.  Engaging students who may not be performing to their full potential can have a significant impact on grades and ultimately academic success in our schools.  There needs to be more focus on helping our students succeed and less focus on standardized testing.  Our school district has tremendous potential and we have some very talented staff members who are dedicated to ensuring academic success for our students.  We need to focus on that potential and do what we can to enhance the learning experience for every student.

Responsibility

I believe it is a shared responsibility with the school board members, administrators and teachers to provide the best educational opportunities for our students in the Amsterdam School District.  With that said, it is essential to continually monitor the performance of our teachers, resources available to our students and opportunities for improvement.  We cannot afford to be complacent, we need to adapt to the demands of our education system and make modifications to our approach ensuring that we are able to provide the ultimate learning environment.  There have been many changes to our education system in the last 5+ years and change can be difficult.  I view change as an opportunity, as a catalyst for improvement.  We can look at these changes as a burden, as something negative or we can capitalize on the momentum of the change for the betterment of our students.

Although I believe that our teachers should be evaluated on a regular basis I am not in favor of 50% of that evaluation being based on standardized testing scores.  I feel that our teachers are valuable resources and we need to do everything in our power to help them succeed so that our students can succeed.  We need to allow our teachers to teach.  Five years ago the percentage of students proficient in English Language Arts and Math was much higher than it is currently.  It is no coincidence that the decrease coincides with the implementation of new academic standards and assessments tied to them [reference].  Our teachers are not the issue, the issue is the manner by which our teachers are evaluated.  It is not an adequate depiction of their performance.

I also believe that collaboratively, we need to look for opportunities for improvement in our offerings, availability of programs (eg after school tutoring, etc) and enhancements to our equipment in an effort to ensure we are performing at or above adequate levels.  I believe if there are problems with a particular school in our district, we should look for ways to improve performance levels.  We need to assess the problem, determine the causes and look for the best, most practical solutions.  I am not in favor of receivership as a solution to schools that are not adequately performing according to State standards.

The focus of our teachers should be providing the best resources to their students to ensure they are learning.  The focus of our students should be learning from the teachers in our districts.  Standardized testing should not be the focal point of our educational system.  Standardized testing scores do not count toward a student’s overall average, yet we put so much emphasis on the preparation for these tests.  This causes undue stress for our students and our teachers.  I am in favor of the opt out movement on such tests.

Our district needs someone on the School Board who can work collaboratively toward establishing common ground in an effort to achieve the best outcomes. The district needs someone to look at an issue from all angles and make an informed decision even if it may not be the most popular choice. The district needs board members that can take the politics out of the issue and ensure that decisions are made with the best interest of the students in mind.  I am confident that I am that person.

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