Describe your background in education, Harrisonburg City Public Schools, and public education.
I attended school in the Shenandoah Valley between 8-12th grade.I attended Broadway High School, BRCC, JMU, and Shenandoah University. I have been working in education since 2004. For the past 12 years, I have worked at Harrisonburg City Public Schools in the following roles: Home School Liaison, Teacher, Vice-Principal, and Central Office Administrator.
Do you think Harrisonburg needs a second high school?
Give reasoning for your answer to Harrisonburg having a second high school.
Working for HCPS and having the opportunity to visit HHS on a regular basis, I am aware of the overcrowding issues we are dealing with and the negative impact this is having on the students and staff. For example, it is unsafe for a building to have 400 students over their capacity as this creates a safety concern if there was ever an emergency and the building had to quickly be evacuated. It is also very clear that given the lack of classroom space for teachers, some of the staff at HHS have to be move from one classroom to the next in order to have a space to teach. In addition, it is critical for a school to cultivate a safe and orderly environment in which students and staff have intentional opportunities to build long-lasting relationships. Having a second high school will allow for students to have more space to get to know each other and their teachers better.
When would you like to see a second high school open in Harrisonburg?
The school should be built as soon as possible for an opening date of 2022.
The current City Council voted to fund a second high school to open in 2023. What are your suggestions to alleviate overcrowding at HHS through the opening of a second high school?
I believe the initial steps to alleviate overcrowding with the addition of a 5th block will give us some good feedback after this upcoming academic year. I also believe there is great merit in continuing to explore other spaces available in the city and potentially find partnerships with organizations, businesses, universities that will allow for some of our students to have an opportunity to have a class out in the community.
Even though Bluestone Elementary is more than 50% larger than our other city elementary schools, our middle schools are near capacity and will become overcrowded during the tenure of our newly elected city council members. How will you address our city’s educational growth while still supporting the other needs of our community?
I believe education is the greatest equalizer and for many of our students the only pathway to success. The state has been reducing their funding to the localities over time. I will continue to advocate at the state level so that our schools are funded more adequately in order to provide our students a quality educational experience.
How familiar are you with the work completed by the Space Study Committee created by the Harrisonburg City School Board?
I was part of this committee and have an in-depth understanding of the process and conclusions reached by this committee.
Please summarize your knowledge of the Space Study Committee and their recommendations.
The space committee, as I recall, first began by identifying the current capacity at HHS and later conducted research and sought feedback from HHS personnel. The second part of the process was to explore different solutions which included an annex, an addition, and a new school. This process took about 8 weeks and the committee hosted a community open house to share with many stakeholders the pros/cons of each option and proceeded to recommend that the best option for our city was to build a new high school.
Please summarize your knowledge of our group, ForHHS2.
As I understand it, ForHHS2, is a grassroots group formed by concerned parents/community members that see the importance of advocating for a second high school and that advocate for the building of HHS2 as soon as possible.
Is there anything you would like the public to know in particular to public education within the city?
We have a great school system, ranking in the top 20 school districts out of 132 divisions in the state of Virginia. I am a passionate educator that has and will continue to advocate for our students in order for them to receive the best quality education we can offer.