We reached out to Will Marks, David Thomas and Tami Tobey with the same set of questions (plus 1 specific to each candidate), to give voters a chance to learn more about each candidate. We encourage you to also check the candidates Facebook or campaign pages to learn more or to contact them with any questions.
What changes are you looking forward to in your new term?
My motivation has been, and will continue to be, “pay it forward”. Teachers changed the trajectory of my life as a young woman. They continue to do so daily for students, just like me, in our own Midlothian ISD. I want to be an advocate for not only the students, but the teachers as well. Educators know that students don’t care what you know until they know that you care. ISD Administrators, in my opinion, have two sets of customers – students/taxpayers and teachers. We need to do a better job of listening, responding and serving both sets of those customers.
What will be the challenges to overcome in the new term?
Ensuring rigorous academic standards as well as alternative learning options will be the main challenges. The district needs to have these as a primary focus to allow all students to succeed and advance towards college or career readiness. As a board, we must work together to set goals and policies that ensure our resources (your tax dollars) are being put towards the most effective solutions. This includes attracting and retaining the best teachers, adding career readiness programs, and ensuring our schools provide a safe space for learning. The immediate challenge of course will be the complete and safe return to “face to face learning” and addressing the COVID situation for all students.
With COVID still present and schools being cautious how do you think the ISD is best served moving forward and is there anything else you believe should be implemented?
I have said all along that I love the fact that we have given parents the choice of virtual or face-to-face. This allows for each family to decide what is best for their student(s), and their own family units. On the flip side, this has taken quite a toll on teachers and curriculum planning. I am hopeful that we will continue to work closely with local health professionals as we continue to listen, communicate, and adjust to the needs of our students and families.
Is there another District in the DFW area you feel is doing things better than MISD and lessons MISD can learn from/implement in the future?
It is absolutely necessary, and would be foolish not to look, to other districts for best practices and innovative ways of doing things. Trustees and administrators in several area ISD’s as well as my alma mater – Midway ISD – have been very helpful in discussing topics like academics, technology/innovation, teacher incentives and discipline policies. I do believe “comparison” can take away from all the amazing things that MISD is already doing. I’d like to be a cheerleader for other districts and encourage administrators, teachers and staff to do the same. As in all things – we are better together!
What do you feel like you or the Board as a while have learned since the controversy surrounding you?
In one word – accountability. With 15 plus years in board governance roles, I understand the important and delicate balance of holding leadership accountable while allowing them to do their jobs. Our community has high expectations of our district, and a part of that is being accessible to parents, teachers, and students so that they can communicate hopes and concerns.
My prior service on boards and in the chair positions for the Midlothian Education Foundation and the Midlothian Community Development Corporation, and the past three years as an MISD school board trustee, have ensured I have the leadership skill set to make a difference in a board role, even when standing up for what is right, holding others accountable or being held accountable is difficult. While none of us can serve perfectly, we can serve wholeheartedly. When there is a misstep, all we can do is humbly ask for grace, forgiveness and the room to learn and be better in the process.
In what areas/ways do you think the board can improve their working relationship with each other & the community?
Good governance, especially accountability and transparency. Voters consistently share with me their expectations that our school board trustees must 1.) thoughtfully consider the issues presented, 2.) seek out feedback from community members, and 3.) ask good and sometimes difficult questions of administration in open board meetings. I have pushed for transparency in the live-streaming of both our board meetings and the workshops where many important conversations take place. We must shine a light on those meetings so that our community can see and hear the consideration given to issues and the decisions made by our district that affect their families.
And finally, you’ve recently been meeting with the community, how is this helping you to connect with parents & what have you learned through these meetings? Will this stop after the election or do you see a benefit from continuing?
Connection is at the heart of every successful organization – be that family, church, school or business. There has been benefit, and there always will be. While I have always done my best to make myself available to families, the conversations recently have been more pointed regarding racial issues within the city and district, as well as concerns over COVID and how the district is adapting. Hard topics are never fixed in one meeting, and that is why it is important to keep talking and keep connecting.
Early voting in Ellis County has started and runs through October 30, for more information we have early voting locations as well as candidate forum recaps, and a general Midlothian election article.