Bob Swain is running for election to the Northshore School District school board (position 2). His response to EEN’s candidate questionnaire is below.
For more information about Bob Swain
email: [email protected]s.com
|What was the lightbulb moment that made you decide you wanted to run for school board (election or re-election)?|
|I have always been active in teaching and mentoring kids since before I had kids of my own, beginning with volunteering with Young Life in college, with church youth groups in my 20s, and continuing over the years in a variety of roles such as coaching local sports, helping in our kids’ schools, and teaching Sunday school and confirmation classes. I have spent this kind of time with kids because I have always believed that they need positive direction, encouragement, and love in order to help them lead successful, fulfilling, and joyful lives.
Over the last two years with only one of my 3 kids still at Inglemoor, I’ve been looking for ways that I can give back to the community in a broader capacity. So when the District 2 Board seat became open unexpectedly, I thought this position would be an ideal way for me to continue my dedication to helping kids by offering my experience in public policy development, financial analysis, commercial real estate investment, and strategic planning.
|What work or other experiences can you point to that qualifies you for the position?|
|My many years of business experience as a commercial real estate broker and my public policy experience working for the Washington State Senate in the 1990s has helped me to develop financial, strategic planning, negotiating, analytical, and listening skills that will allow me to be a creative, objective, and thoughtful member of the School Board. I have also learned so much from my wife Trudy, who is the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Northshore Junior High, about the time and dedication that parents, teachers, administrators, and support staff, contribute to the challenges that must be constantly addressed to ensure that a quality educational community and experience exists for all.
As parents of children who have been educated in Northshore schools, Trudy and I have obviously been exposed to their experiences. We’ve seen and learned quite a bit over the years about what life is like for students both inside and outside of the classroom. Our family’s overall classroom experiences have been very good, but there have also been some struggles both within the classroom and within the student body culture. Our kids have given us a broad perspective of what life is like in today’s schools, and the pressures that they face. This includes a variety of experience with teachers, administrators, and student culture.
|What are your ties to the community and how do you give back to it?|
|My parents moved my siblings and I to Finn Hill from South Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1978, and apart from a handful of years being away for college and living in Olympia and Seattle, I’ve been on “The Hill” most of my life. I went to Finn Hill Junior High and graduated from Juanita High School in 1983.
Trudy and I have been on Finn Hill for almost 20 years now and we just celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. I have been continually involved in giving back to the community in a variety of ways; through our church (St. John Vianney), volunteering in our kids’ schools, and coaching kid’s sports.
|What does your district do well to help improve student learning? What’s one thing your district can do better to improve outcomes?|
|Our first home on Finn Hill was in the Lake Washington School District, but we later varianced our kids into Northshore because we were so impressed with how Northshore parents, educators, and staff seemed to have created a diverse culture of mutual respect that made the educational community experience more creative and collaborative. Northshore stakeholders continue to work together respectfully to find ways to improve the educational experience for all kids and their families.
There are many areas of where we need to improve educational outcomes. Two very specific areas are (1) figuring out why our 11th grade SBA math scores are not where they should be, and (2) providing more special education support and resources district wide. But on a broader level, we need to improve our efforts to tighten achievement gaps for those kids that struggle educationally and emotionally because of certain socio-economic conditions, English language hurdles, mental health issues, and other challenges. Additional staff, resources, training, and collaboration are needed to help kids who struggle more than others.
Meeting each and every child where they are in their intellectual, social, and emotional development, and helping them reach their greatest potential should always be our guiding principle.
|Parent engagement is vital to successful schools. What can your school district do to improve meaningful family engagement, especially for families that find it difficult to engage or don’t see much value in it?|
|I see the community as one big family and I don’t believe we can attempt to effectively improve education delivery and results without the Superintendent, the School Board, and each school administration being in continual dialogue with families and advocacy groups regarding goals, needs, and concerns. We should always be in the business of facilitating conversations and creating an environment where parents and students feel comfortable reaching out to ask that new conversations be undertaken as issues and concerns arise.
Specifically, I’d like to see better communication with families about the variety of support services (social, economic, and educational) that are available to them. I am also very interested in exploring the regular use of focus groups and surveys that can give students and parents more direct and less intimidating ways of expressing their concerns, struggles, and positive experiences. The District needs a deeper understanding of what we are doing well and where we are missing the mark.