Leigh has earned the endorsement of the Noblesville Teachers’ Forum.
Your vote matters. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me and how I plan to serve Noblesville Schools as a member of the board.
Leigh’s Vision for the Future of Noblesville Schools
My vision for Noblesville Schools is to have the district heralded as a national leader in public education for establishing a model that unlocks each student’s greatest potential.
Noblesville Schools will be recognized for its inclusive curriculum and providing a welcoming environment, where all students flourish.
Noblesville Schools will be emulated for its implementation of technology solutions. Our district will be seen as a leader and sought after to train other districts. We will continually evaluate new technologies and establish best practices for a successful online and blended learning environment. (COVID-19 forced rapid virtual solutions to meet the urgent need. What I am envisioning is an evolution of these efforts to prepare us for future virtual needs.)
Noblesville Schools will reward, retain, and recruit the best teachers. Our district will prioritize teacher needs, appreciate and value them, and as a result be a sought after employer.
Noblesville Schools will engage the community in a two-way dialogue. District leaders will proactively communicate and educate key stakeholders to foster a collaborative and informed relationship. District leaders will create opportunities to gather feedback and host live sessions for productive discussions.
The Noblesville community will be proud of its public school system. The city of Noblesville will thrive as more families seek to call it home.
A School Board Member’s Role
My role is to first lead by example. This includes conducting myself, both in my words and actions, in a manner that instills trust in my character and confidence in my ability to thoughtfully consider all sides before taking official actions. My role will be to represent all residents to ensure every student is given equal access to a free, safe, and welcoming learning environment. My role is to listen to all voices and seek facts in order to make decisions that support the goals of the District and School Board.
An inclusive environment begins with a two-way dialogue among everyone involved. I view this as an ongoing effort. As a member of the Noblesville School Board, I will continually seek means and channels to gather community feedback, provide clear communication to the community, and hold live conversations with the community, as allowed.
I welcome the adoption of new technologies to assist in capturing feedback through surveys, open response form submissions, and (virtual) town halls.
Schools are designed to be inclusive. They are places of learning that welcome all, regardless of one’s background or home-life. Decisions are inherently non-inclusive. Decisions require leaders to compromise and in the best scenarios are equitable. This means School Board members must recognize when decisions may be — or may appear to some groups — as non-inclusive. It’s critical the School Board be available and transparent when these types of decisions are made. The School Board should be proactive in publicly releasing a statement covering the facts leading to their decision; acknowledging compromises made.
Attracting & Retaining the Best Teachers
Pay is certainly the top item in attracting and retaining teachers. This includes comprehensive compensation packages, inclusive of health insurance. I am committed to approaching any contract bargaining with the objective of providing competitive pay while maintaining a balanced district budget.
Throughout my career, I have learned that someone else will always be able to pay more. Noblesville Schools must give teachers what others can’t: A supportive space to grow professionally, feel valued, and have your voice heard. Culture matters.
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, said it best: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
We as a leadership group must provide development opportunities to teachers. This includes giving them time during the school day to meet with their PLGs and attend conferences, but goes well beyond that.
I am eager to explore what corporate partnerships the district could develop. In our region, there has been an entrepreneurial boon. Countless companies have been started, many with a commitment to giving back, especially locally. I believe there are partnership opportunities to have corporations fund wish-list-level training and professional development efforts. If elected, I would drive efforts to explore and implement such partnerships. I would envision devising a cross-functional committee, composed of teachers, administrators, and local leaders to onboard new partnerships and set goals.
I will also advocate for letting great teachers teach their way. If we provide development opportunities, new ideas will develop. We have to welcome change. I believe that if a seasoned teacher has a high assessment rating, is well-respected by students and staff, and is delivering results; give them leeway to evolve their teaching style. If they want to try new methods or start a new initiative, let’s support them.
Retention of any employee starts with their boss. The School Board’s primary task is to manage the Superintendent. I adhere to a leadership style of trust, but verify.
As a member of the School Board, I will continually talk to the Superintendent about the district’s culture. How is morale? How is morale being gauged? What is causing teacher attrition? How is teacher feedback and input being gathered? What is being done to address concerns? Who, on the Superintendent’s leadership team, is leading various efforts? Etc.
Then, I will verify. I would seek out answers to these questions from teachers and administrators. I very much want the School Board to be known as a safe and trusted body to receive any and all input related to school operations.
School Board’s Role in Establishing Social & Racial Equality
Each member of this new School Board will have the opportunity to use their position to greatly impact and shape Noblesville Schools’ inclusivity.
Each member is part of a whole. The Board must be united for lasting change to be made.
Each member must conduct themselves personally and professionally to demonstrate in Noblesville: All Means All.
I am committed to continuing existing efforts, such as implicit bias training. I am seeking a seat on the Board to collaborate with teachers, administrators, and leaders across the district to ensure everything we do is thoughtfully considered. We must question what assumptions are made with each new idea. For example, we want to host an evening community meeting to gather parent input on key issues. Awesome! But what about families without child care? What about families without transportation? What about families with children who have learning disabilities? What about non-English speaking parents?
Social and racial equality are not committees. They are a mindset brought into consideration with everything.
Curriculum: What Should Teachers Teach?
I believe knowledge is more powerful than ignorance. Shielding students from learning about different cultures, societies, and history is a disservice.
Classroom curriculum should be age-appropriate and decided by educators, not politicians. Elected representatives are responsible for ensuring the infrastructure of education is available. This covers teachers, buildings and amenities that facilitate learning.
Social and Emotional Learning
I support Noblesville Schools’ ongoing efforts to teach and develop our students through social and emotional learning (SEL).
Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions. (CASEL) Social and emotional development provides a foundation for learning and enhances students’ ability to succeed in school, careers and life.
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of social and emotional learning. Improved academic achievements and improved college and career readiness are both impacted through experiences that promote social and emotional learning. Research shows that SEL boosts student outcomes, including 11% gain in academic achievement. Furthermore, a meta-analysis in 2017 shows a 6% increase in high school graduation rates and an 11% increase in college graduation rates.
Plan if Budget Cuts Become Necessary
If cuts become necessary, I would seek to cut or downsize programs that have alternate funding options.
One of the greatest contributions I can bring is the ability to generate support and funds for various efforts. I would bring that energy to such a situation as budget cuts.
With my communications and marketing skillset, I can contribute the most to PR efforts that promote referendums and fundraising efforts to key audiences. I know how to effectively communicate complex plans to gain support and build advocates. I have met with Noblesville Schools Director of Marketing and Communications and expressed my desire to be an ally, advisor, and do-er on these types of critical funding issues.
Additionally, I appreciate the importance of keeping the community engaged and supportive so when key funding issues arise they are quick to rally. I would stay focused on implementing solutions that update the community on district goals, progress, and outcomes.
I am eager to foster strong community relationships and formal corporate partnerships so that in such a situation as this, we would have options. I would seek businesses that could support extracurricular activities through donations and/or in-kind contributions.
I view STEAM as absolutely necessary. The arts, including music, are vital to a well-rounded education. Music and art have been found to raise serotonin levels, which contributes to a student’s social and emotional development, and has a profound impact on their overall academic achievements. I would work tirelessly to ensure these core subjects were funded.
Have more questions for Leigh?