Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 2013 School Board Election -- Stephanie Rivera

Stephanie Rivera   Ballot Line: A6

What motivates you to seek this office/another term in this office?
I am heavily involved in engagements surrounding education and education policy, especially in urban communities since I am pursuing a Political Science and Teaching Degree. I have been a volunteer mentor at the New Brunswick High School for over a year, which is one of the key components that have inspired me to pursue this particular position. I see the injustices and struggles they endure, and they deserve board members who will fight for the changes and improvements they deserve.

What will be your top priorities as a School Board member/in a new term on the School Board? First, I want to increase involvement of parents, students, and all community members to assure they have a say in what happens to their schools. Second, I want to use my connection to Rutgers to increase the number of after and in-school programs and resources that are available to New Brunswick students. With this, I want to assure all students have easy access to the needs to help them excel during and following their K-12 Education. 

How will you seek to foster parent involvement in New Brunswick Public Schools? I would like to hold public forums and meetings aside from monthly school board meetings to give parents and community members the opportunity to voice their concerns, and assure the problems they are facing are being addressed in both a proper and timely manner. I understand that parents have busy schedules and may not be able to attend set meeting times, which is why I will be more than willing to provide additional contact information so that I am as accessible as possible to the community.

How will you ensure that students who are immigrants themselves or whose parents are immigrants receive equal and high-quality educational opportunities? Echoing what I stated in question number 2, I will work hard to ensure both documented and undocumented immigrants know what high-quality educational opportunities are available to them. I would like to hold public events for immigrant families where current immigrant college students and\or alumnus talk about their experience, and provide answers to questions immigrant families may have. Some examples of what these events would cover are: How to find\apply to scholarship opportunities, how to apply for Equal Opportunity Fund, and other financial aid opportunities. I would also work to build a stronger relationship with organizations such as the Rutgers Center for Latino Arts and Culture who do empowering work with immigrants in New Jersey.

How will you ensure that the School District supports struggling students who are in danger of falling through the cracks? The biggest priority once a student is found seriously struggling is to provide necessary and appropriate attention to the student, and assure he\she is not being ignored. If one is not already in place, there should be a group of skilled staff members at each school whom the student would appropriately be addressed by. The student should be able to confide in this staff, and the staff would be able to direct\provide him\her the necessary resources to have his\her needs addressed to get the student back on track. The staff would then be responsible for following up with the student on a continuous basis to assure he\she is continuously improving until having staff support is found no longer needed.

In addition to parents, how will you engage other stakeholders in the New Brunswick Public Schools, such as city residents, students, alumni, teachers, staff, and community institutions?
As already mentioned, I would like to hold town-hall meetings for community members. If requested and found popular by other community members, I will work to the best of my ability to not only hold general townhall meetings, but meetings specified to each group e.g. townhall for students, townhall for staff, townhall for parents. Even further, I would like to work with community-focused Rutgers organizations to hold events in the community to build stronger ties among residents, alumni, teachers, staff, and all of those whom reside in New Brunswick.

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