Preparing Students for the 21st Century

Colleen believes we have a moral responsibility to ensure ALL children have access to an equal educational opportunity

Colleen believes in policies and programs that support:

• Children as the center of all educational efforts and reforms
• Critical thinkers who need to build a deep understanding of the world around them based on evidence
• Problem solvers who can identify the tools and strategies to develop, assess, and implement viable solutions
• Innovators who can process new information connect elements to form new meanings, patterns, or structures and create solutions to the challenges they will face
• Communicators that understand how to analyze and express their thoughts, ideas, and emotions in meaningful and productive ways
• Collaborators who can build relationships and work with others to achieve common goals
• Strategic partnerships throughout Flagler County that will be needed to meet the needs of students and families
• Training and communication as they are essential for organizational change and professional growth
• Rigorous and relevant curriculum opportunities for students and that will prepare children to live, learn, work, and communicate in the 21st Century

Colleen believes in policies and programs that will help students have a sense of:

• Global awareness necessary to understand the interconnected world we live in and the importance of the role they play
• Civic engagement with a commitment to our democratic governance, social and civic participation, as well as advocacy for their own community
• Self-directed or a sense of control in having ownership over their learning and opportunities
• Digital Responsibility and Citizenship. Flagler County is a technology rich district. We now have a responsibility to empower students to become responsible digital citizens who understand how to use information and media and to be ethically responsible for the social use of technology
• Financial Literacy. Programming should be provided to ensure students understand how personal and global finances and the economy work and the impact both may have domestic and global economic issues

Colleen believes we should hold Federal and state governments, along with the Department of Education accountable to provide adequate resources to fund required mandates and local school board responsibilities.

Colleen believes that while brick and mortar issues and our budget are important, we must NEVER lose sight of the academic, social, emotional and physical growth of our children. We need to continue to look at programs and policies that address the whole child. If we are striving to be the best of the best, we need to focus on more than just test scores. We must ensure our students become productive members of our society and are ready and able to compete in the global market place.

I believe if we are going to prepare students for the 21st century, we MUST re-invent how we educate children.  There is enough scientific research on brain development for us to know and make educated choices about what’s best for our children. However, there has been a continued erosion of local control and the inability of school districts to have a voice in the decision process. I have said before and will continue to say enough is enough! Local school boards elected by their local communities should have the ability to choose what policies work best for their community.  21st Century schools require a shift in thinking, and our structure needs to be re-examined. A silver lining in our response to COVID-19 has shown that public education CAN change. Now we MUST change. Let’s ensure that we create programs that are balanced and in the best interest of our students.

I’m proud of the changes Flagler County has made over the last several years. We were the first county in the state and one of the very few in the nation to provide every student with access to technology and a one-to-one device. This plan took over ten years to implement and could never have happened without the local support of Flagler County taxpayers. YOU did that! Local government did that!  WE saw a future need, WE understood the research and the future workforce needs and WE, local taxpayers, made that happen! We could NOT have responded so quickly during our COVID-1 shut down if it were not for our access to great technology. THANK YOU for your ongoing support.

Our work is far from done. While I am proud of the accomplishments we’ve made over the years transitioning from an outdated curriculum, technology starved district, teacher pay rates that were last in the state; little to no support for the social and emotional growth of our students and families and old facilities with overcrowded classrooms to cutting edge programming in science, technology, engineering and math, an arts program with one of the most extensive band programs across the state; to every single Flagler County School District child having their OWN device; to several brand new schools and renovations to all existing schools; to a teacher pay scale that is now ranked in the top ten to attract the best and brightest for our classrooms; and to an increase in support for our most fragile children and families!

However, I recognize and have been a continued voice for the things we still so desperately need to call attention to.  We should never be satisfied until our children have the opportunity to maximize their full potential. In my opinion, we have pockets of excellence across the county but need to work to systematically ensure EVERY child experiences the same excellence in the classroom. To do that, we MUST stop this insane obsession with testing and assessment, treat teachers as the professionals we’ve hired them to be, do our best to support those struggling, and encourage those unable to connect and facilitate learning to seek new opportunities. We MUST have curriculum and programming that helps a child natural curiosity and excites them to be life long learners and build 21st-century competencies. Learning can be and should be fun! I have been in the classroom for the last 25 years from the elementary to the university level, it can be done, but we need to allow teachers to actually teach. We must insist that assessments and the collection of data be realistic, timely, and authentic. The purpose of testing and assessment is to diagnose the learning deficiencies of our students not to feed a political dialogue. I’ve said it before and will continue to say it – our children are not widgets on an assembly line, nor are the pawns in a game. The continued changes to Florida’s accountability plan has lost credibility.  Our standards need validation, not just a rewrite and our assessments need to be realistic and timely.

Now is not the time for a change! I know the issues, I’m not afraid to speak out on these issues and fight for our teachers and children. Flagler County has begun to tackle these issues. We’ve redesigned a 100-year-old organizational structure to meet the needs of today’s children and employees. We have enhanced programming throughout the county, and redesigned our classrooms to enhance learning.

We must have the courage to build upon the foundation that has been developed over the last decade and push for continuous improvement. I believe we only succeed when 100% of our children cross that finish line of graduation regardless of how the federal government calculates the rate. We must insist that every single student graduates with either a traditional high school diploma or a GED along with an industry certificate that is evidence they are ready for either the workforce or college. We are on the right track, with a projected graduation rate of 92%. If we have not done that, we have failed society because the future dropout will be the burden we will all carry. However, it is impossible to do this alone. It requires a commitment from our families and community. But I genuinely believe it is possible.