Brenda’s Vision

Anyone who follows education knows there is no shortage of issues to discuss nor viewpoints on them:

  • Funding: Federal, State and Local
  • Security/Safety
  • Bullying
  • Physical/Mental Health (the emotional, physical and social development of the whole child)
  • Opioid Abuse
  • Testing and Assessment
  • Teaching Professional Development/Retention

These are just a few of the issues I have made the effort to educate myself on. I certainly have my own personal view on them, as do many, and am happy to discuss them. However, as a Board of Education trustee my job isn't to impose my view on others, but to represent the public interest and voice, implement state and federal education requirements, and act as a body, with students at the forefront of all that I do.

The Board of Education has 3 main purposes: Policy, Budget, Superintendent. The Board does not run the district, but ensures our schools are well run. I do believe the public however, has an important stake in voicing the values they wish to see in how their tax dollars are being spent and input into policy of the district. Parents, Students, PTA's, Educators - are important stakeholders in the well-being and strength of our school system.

The mission of the Hicksville School District, in partnership with families, teachers and community, is to ensure that every student acquires the knowledge and skills needed to be a lifelong learner, responsible citizen, and successful participant in an ever-changing global society through a comprehensive educational program.  As a candidate for re-election I wholeheartedly support this critical mission and offer you insights into several of the many issue I will continue to advocate for over the next 3 years, as follows:

Whole Child Initiative

Whole Child Initiative is an effort to change the conversation about education from a focus on narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the long-term development and success of the whole child. Through the initiative educators, families, community members, and policymakers move from a vision about educating the whole child to sustainable, collaborative action for greater alignment, integration, and collaboration between education and health to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.

While by no means do I purport to be an expert on this initiative intuitively I see its value given the issues I am committed to advancing.  The Whole Child Initiative tenets are simply:

  • Each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle.
  • Each student learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults.
  • Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.
  • Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults.
  • Each student is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment and participation in a global environment.

These commonsense tenets are undeniably beneficial to the overall development of healthy and happy children and frame every aspect of my vision as follows: 

School Safety

In schools across the country, students routinely encounter a range of safety issues—from overt acts of violence and bullying to subtle intimidation and disrespect. Though extreme incidents such as school shootings tend to attract the most attention, day-to-day incidents such as gossip and hallway fights contribute to students’ overall sense of safety and shape the learning climate in the school. Creating and implementing a “culture of calm” predicated on developing positive and engaging relationships between adults and children is a key issue I will continue to advocate.  I believe that a holistic approach to stopping school violence, including a combination of more school counselors, expanded physical security at every school throughout Hicksville and restricted access to assault weapons are key!

I vow to continue to work collaboratively as a Hicksville Board of Education trustee with the community of administrators, teachers, parents and staff to ensure the safety of our students. Our schools must be secure, safe places for teaching and learning!

Technology also plays a key role in ensuring the safety and security of our students and staff!  I vow to aggressively redress blind spots in physical security throughout our district through cutting edge technology such as the Rave Mobile Safety system, which allows administrators to access a smartphone application with five buttons to call emergency services for an active shooter, a fire or a medical emergency, and the installation of new “Smart Locks” on all classroom doors.

Mental Health

Contrary to a common misconception, mental illnesses are not exclusively experienced by adults. While it may be true that most mental illnesses are not properly diagnosed until later in life, signs and symptoms of many mental illnesses can begin very early in life. This reality is central to the need to teach young people about mental health as a means of early intervention and prevention. It’s well established that half of all chronic mental health conditions begin by age 14. (2017 Mental Health Association of America, in New York State, Inc.)   If this statistic seems startling, it’s because the reality of when most mental illnesses begin is obscured from our view because most of us don’t recognize the signs and symptoms when they appear, ignore them or mistakenly confuse them with other characteristics of adolescence such as changes associated with puberty. This is a tragedy for two main reasons: 1) early intervention and treatment of mental illnesses hold the best prospect for treatment efficacy and recovery, and 2) adolescence is such a crucial developmental stage of life.

The cost of not teaching young people about mental health cannot be overstated. When mental illness, or even merely the early seeds of illness, go unrecognized and untreated a cascade of unfortunate and sometimes tragic events is set in motion. These can include: reduced prospects for recovery, the development of negative coping behaviors including substance use and other risky behavior, the increased chance of legal trouble and consequent criminal records, compromised academic performance and lower graduation rates. And most troubling of course is the increased risk of mental health emergencies such as suicide and self-injury.

Along with the 6-other committed Board of Education members I vow to ensure that health education curricula be expanded to:

  • Equip students with knowledge about mental health so as to maximize each student’s own mental wellness and the mental wellness of others, and instill an awareness of when and how to access treatment or other services as needed for oneself and others
  • Draw upon and involve the participation of mental health experts, advocates, providers and recipients (past and/or present) of mental health services from the general community outside the school itself, in addition to instruction provided by the primary mental health educator(s), and;
  • Not have as learning objectives teaching students to diagnose, treat or otherwise provide counseling to people with mental illness.

Bullying

Bullying is not a new problem, but it is one that has a profound impact on the learning aptitude of many students today. Technology has given bullies even more avenues to torment their victims – through social networking, texting and other virtual interactions.  Cyberbullying has become a major issue for schools, as evidenced by the number of suicides that can be directly traced to bullying events. The fact that laws are still fuzzy regarding cyberbullying adds to the challenge – since parents, teachers and administrators are unsure of how to legally handle such issues.

I vow to advocate for enhanced staff training on bullying Prevention. All school staff need to be trained on what bullying is, what the school’s policies and rules are, and how to enforce the rules.  Such training may take many forms: staff meetings, one-day training sessions, and teaching through modeling preferred behavior.

Teacher Professional Development/Retention

Great teachers help create great students. An inspiring and informed teacher is an important school-related factor influencing student achievement, so it is critical to pay close attention to the training and support both new and experienced educators throughout our District.

I support teacher-preparation programs emphasizing subject-matter mastery and providing many opportunities for newer teachers to spend time in real classrooms under the supervision of an experienced mentor. Just as professionals in medicine, architecture, and law have opportunities to learn through examining case studies, learning best practices, and participating in internships, exemplary teacher-preparation programs fledging teachers the time to apply their learning of theory in the context of teaching in a real classroom.

Ongoing professional development is also critical for veteran teachers to have continual opportunities to learn from each other. These learning opportunities keep teachers up-to-date on new research on how children learn, emerging technology tools for the classroom, new curriculum resources, and more. Kids Health Guide reports that students are more technologically advanced than many teachers today, putting instructors at a decided disadvantage in the classroom. Today. When teachers don’t have the techno-savvy to compete with those devices, by bringing education and technology together, it becomes difficult to keep students’ interest and attention to properly teach new concepts.

I will strongly advocate for professional development that is ongoing, experiential, collaborative, and connected to and derived from working with students and understanding their unique needs.  

To learn more about Brenda Judson's vision on these issues and others please don’t hesitate to contact her.

 



 

 

 

 

 

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