Melissa Johnson is running for election to the Snoqualmie Valley School District school board (position 1). Her response to EEN’s questionnaire is below.
For more information about Melissa Johnson:
email: [email protected]
|What was the lightbulb moment that made you decide you wanted to run for school board (election or re-election)?|
|Along with many other parents and stakeholders in our community, I believe that our school district has a huge opportunity to improve how we are preparing our kids for post-graduation success. I strongly feel that our Snoqualmie Valley students deserve the same quality of education as students attending any of our neighboring school districts. My lightbulb moment occurred when I came to the definitive realization that this is not happening. My realization was driven by both qualitative information from parents and students and quantitative information such as test scores, class enrollment data, and other standard metrics used by the state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). It is clear that SVSD has an enormous opportunity, and I, unfortunately, do not see my opponent leading improvement in this area. I truly believe that we can inspire our students to reach higher and be better prepared when they graduate from high school. With my past business experience and my passion around student success, I am confident that I can make a significant impact serving on the board and improving student success.|
|What work or other experiences can you point to that qualifies you for the position?|
|As stated above, the SVSD has a significant opportunity to address over the coming years. My 22 years of experience at Weyerhaeuser and my MBA have prepared me extremely well to help lead this change. The majority of my 22 years of experience has been focused on opportunity identification, strategy development and most importantly, turning strategy into actionable tasks that will ultimately lead to successful implementation. In addition, I have consistently proven the ability to effectively lead cross-functional teams while building relationships and building consensus between team members when required. Even more important than my education and work experience, is the fact that I am passionate about improving student success and expanding opportunities for all of our students upon graduation.|
|What are your ties to the community and how do you give back to it?|
|My husband and I moved from Seattle to the Snoqualmie Valley 15 years ago with the goal of starting and raising a family in a true community. We consider the residents of Snoqualmie Valley our extended family. In the 15 years that I have lived in the Valley I have been an active participant in community activities and have and will always step up to help out when the need arises. Involvement has included leading an annual auction supporting the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank to volunteering at my two sons’ school when needed. I do have to admit that running for the school board represents the most significant act of community involvement in which I have participated, but I can assure the community that am 100% committed to serving on the board and making a difference for my kids and for all kids in the Valley!|
|What does your district do well to help improve student learning? What’s one thing your district can do better to improve outcomes?|
|The SVSD is set up for success when you look at the facilities improvements in process and the educators and support staff in place, combined with our low poverty community demographics. We will have a new state of the art high-school in the next couple of years, and will transition back from two to three middle schools. These new learning environments, along with the beginnings of a strategic plan and educators/support staff who are passionate about our students’ success, will help the district move in a positive direction.
If I have to choose just one thing that I believe will improve student outcomes, it is undoubtedly strengthening a culture of excellence throughout all of our schools. There are many contributors to the current culture. One of the most significant contributors lies with the policies and procedures in place, which are actually deterring students from reaching higher and challenging themselves. Unfortunately, this has resulted in lower test scores and other OSPI metrics. Some notable examples that are well below our neighboring districts are SAT math scores, 10th grade state test scores, % of students going to a 4-year college and % of students taking AP classes. If we do not drive change by setting policy as a school board, these metrics will continue to suffer. The reason we should care so much about this data is that they are proven indicators of students succeeding after graduation, whether they are planning on 4-yr, 2-yr, military or career. We owe it to our students to do everything in our ability to set them up for a successful future!
|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?|
|Parent and community engagement is one of the Snoqualmie Valley’s strongest levers. We have a parent community that is extremely active and willing to get involved, as much as their time and the district policies and practices allow. Unfortunately, this is a largely under-utilized resource within our district, once students move on from elementary school. This results in a less than robust parent-student-educator collaboration in terms of general coursework pathways, and it seriously affects the success of any high school and beyond planning which should begin in middle school. In addition, the district has an untapped resource available to students when it comes to our parent community. We are missing out by not utilizing willing parents and community and business leaders as tutors, career advisors, internship providers and more. I believe that with a robust plan that includes ample communication and marketing, clearly illustrating the value to our students, the district will be able to engage more parents and members of the community. This includes parent’s active participation in their own child’s success, as well as, parent and community participation in newly defined student support programs which have the potential to benefit the overall student body. Once implemented this will expand opportunities for all students!|