Anita Damjanovic is running for election to the Lake Washington School District school board (position 3). Her response to EEN’s candidate questionnaire is below.
For more information about Anita Damjanovic
email: [email protected]
|What was the lightbulb moment that made you decide you wanted to run for school board (election or re-election)?|
|I have always been a passionate advocate for public schools. When I heard about Ms. Bernard retiring, I decided it was time to run. I knew that there would be other community members who would undoubtedly step up, but looking at my sons’ and my students’ smiling faces convinced me that rather than wait on others, I needed to step up myself. Having been in the classroom for the implementation of NCLB, Common Core, several different standardized assessments, new graduation requirements, and various technology initiatives, etc., I have valuable insight and first-hand experience that is currently lacking on our school board. I want to share my knowledge and help improve our schools for all our students.|
|What work or other experiences can you point to that qualifies you for the position?|
|I am a teacher entering my 14th year in the classroom. I started teaching in Louisville, KY at an elementary school immediately upon my graduation from the University of Louisville. Soon after that, I moved to Chicago to pursue my doctorate in Romance Languages and Literatures. While in Chicago, I taught at several universities, most notably Northwestern University and University of Chicago, my alma mater. After completing my Master’s in Teaching Secondary Education, I started my K-12 career teaching at a charter high school. In Washington, I taught middle school and high school courses, and worked on improving student outcomes and educational experiences in the choice program where I teach. I also taught at Redmond High School for a year, ultimately resigning my position in LWSD to avoid leaving my students without a teacher only a few months into the school year should I win a seat on the school board.|
|What are your ties to the community and how do you give back to it?|
|My family is a multicultural immigrant family. We are first generation citizens of the United States, and we are fairly new to the Pacific Northwest Area. After my husband and I completed our studies, we intentionally chose the Eastside as our future home after seeing that it is a strong community that values education and hard work, values we share. We are looking forward to growing roots and raising our sons here.|
|What does your district do well to help improve student learning? What’s one thing your district can do better to improve outcomes?|
|Having had an opportunity to work for the district, I speak from personal experience when I say that LWSD encourages teacher collaboration: co-planning, co-teaching, and teaching mentors and coaches all provide opportunities for teachers to develop strategies for student individualization leading to more learning. Even at the building level, teachers work together on development of common assessments and establishing student growth goals, resulting in better instruction and better educational outcomes for our students.
We know that students learn best when they feel comfortable and safe. In the last decade I have seen more and more students suffer from anxiety and depression, which often results in absenteeism. The students’ mental and emotional discomfort, and their frequent absences both have a strong impact on their learning. I would love to see us take a more proactive approach on these issues and attempt to address them more intentionally at the local level.
|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 believe our district has put a lot of effort into community outreach in the last few years, but we can always do more. For example, right now we do not invest enough into our vocational education programs, and we still emphasize college as the best path to long-term success. Creating a more robust vocational education program would allow us to reach the parents who value career training, as well as build a stronger connection between the district and area businesses. Ultimately, I would love to see us consider vocational education programs akin to those offered to students in Europe: education and paid training for all students enrolled, without any value judgments.|