Thursday, October 11, 2012

Get to Know your MDUSD Board Candidates

All MDUSD Candidates were invited to participate in the Get to Know your MDUSD Board Candidates questionnaire. Candidates are asked to answer four questions in 500 words or less. Their  responses will be posted in alphabetical order on the blog if you chose to participate. 



Debra Mason
(Words 394)

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am 57 years old and was born and raised in Bay Point. I have been married for 32 years and have two daughters and two granddaughters. I consider myself to be a community advocate. When my children were in school I worked part time and served on PTA’s and Site Councils, I am currently on the Riverview Site Council even though I no longer have children in school. I worked as an instructional assistant
for 22 years and then took a full time position as a Recreation Coordinator at the local park and recreation district. I serve on the Bay Point Municipal Advisory Council and the Community Advisory Panel. Since the community I live in is unincorporated and depends upon the county for services, over the years I have become quite successful at working collaboratively with multiple agencies to bring
much needed services into our community such as a health clinic, afterschool programs and a family service center.

What is your purpose for running for the Board of Education for MDUSD?
I am running for the board because I feel that the experience and knowledge I gained working in the classroom, developing recreational youth programs, and service on public boards makes me a uniquely qualified candidate. I attended most of the school board meetings last year and there seemed to be a lot of parents and teachers that felt their concerns were not being addressed. I know that there
are sometimes hard decisions that need to be made but feel they can be done in a respectful way that acknowledges people’s concerns. I think the district needs to adopt a strategic plan and then set about implementing it thoughtfully and intentionally.

What is your background in education and what could it bring to the Board?
While working in recreation I developed programs that used a youth development approach. Some of the programs I started went on to be recognized as demonstrations programs and I became a trainer, going around the state training staffs that work with youth on how to provide exemplary programs. I also have a certificate in Conflict Resolution which is useful when working on a board that has
to struggle with difficult issues.

What knowledge do you have about special education and how do you plan on using that knowledge to support students with special needs?
As a classroom assistant and a provider of programs that were inclusive I have interacted with many special education students. One of the key components of quality youth development is that all children feel physically and emotionally safe, I think this is even more important for children who have special needs.


Barbara Oaks
(Words 399)

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Barbara Oaks, and I am a candidate for MDUSD Governing Board.  I have lived within this district for 36 years.  My two children went to school in this district and I am now the grandparent of an
MDUSD student.  I have been a teacher of students with special needs for 13 years, a vice principal for five years, and retired after six years as a high school principal all within MDUSD.

What is your purpose for running for the Board of Education for MDUSD?
I am running for the MDUSD Governing Board because I want to do what I can to assist in what I see as goals for our students and our community, including high achievement, along with social and emotional support, for our students, respectful, trusting and collaborative relationships with teachers and staff, open communication and positive relationships with parents and community, honest and thoughtful decision-making with integrity, and being fiscally conservative.

What is your background in education and what could it bring to the Board?
I have worked in education for the 25 years, having retired in June, 2011.  I taught students with special needs for 13 years within MDUSD, including high school students with learning disabilities, and adults with severe handicapping conditions.  I also taught business skills within the MDUSD adult education program.  My eleven years as an administrator were also within MDUSD.  Having worked within the district for 24 years, I am well familiar with programs and practices which have been instituted over the years, some of which have been very successful for the benefit of our children.  I want to continue to work to support the academic and social programs for the children and families of this district.

What knowledge do you have about special education and how do you plan on using that knowledge to support students with special needs?
My knowledge of special education is both as one who has received formal education and training in working with students with special needs, and, more importantly, as a practitioner of this knowledge.  Having taught students with special needs for 13 years, as well as adults, I have gained knowledge about the individuality of people, their strengths, and how to best use the strengths of students with special needs.  I have also worked with dozens of families, gaining insight into the family dynamics in a home with a student with special needs.  As a board member, I would use this knowledge whenever making decisions about providing education for students with special needs in all arenas of the educational process, always keeping in mind the needs of the student first and how the decision could affect the student and his/her family.


Sherry Whitmarsh
(Words 384)

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Prior to serving on the board, I was on the district’s Parent Advisory Committee and Budget Advisory Committee. I served on the PFC, PTA and site councils at Bancroft Elementary, Oak Grove Middle, and Ygnacio Valley High School. My husband and I have two daughters, one is a freshman at Baylor University and one is a sophomore at Ygnacio Valley High School.

What is your purpose for running for the Board of Education for MDUSD?
I work full time for an energy company and I have a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration for California State University, Hayward. I believe every child should receive the best education possible. I believe that MDUSD should be attracting and retaining highly qualified staff. This is very difficult during these budget reductions. We need to be creative and develop solutions that will meet our students’ needs and motivate our employees to stay with the district. I still support career-integrated academics. Our high schools need to have a variety of programs in order to make our students career ready or college ready. Programs like the academy model, ROP, and job shadowing help our students prepare for their future. I feel that Response to Intervention (RTI) is important for our students. We need to early identify students who are having learning difficulties and work with them. RTI for some students may be what is needed to get them to grade level.

What is your background in education and what could it bring to the Board?
I do not have a degree in education, but I have experience because I volunteer at schools and have served on education committees. My work experience allows me to understand budgets and what it takes to make teams work. The Board should have a common purpose of wanting the best for its students and staff. It should work cooperatively to find ways to serve.

What knowledge do you have about special education and how do you plan on using that knowledge to support students with special needs?
My knowledge is based on meetings with parents of special education students and discussions with my sister who has a masters degree in special education. She has helped me understand the nuances of special education and the battles that parents fight for their children. It is important that the Board understand that reductions in general education also affect special education. It is also important as a Board to avoid putting special education and general education at opponents. I will continue to be available to special education parents and listen to their request.


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