Schools are a hot topic these days. In the Northville Public Schools, nine candidates seek voter support to fill the four four-year positions available in the Nov. 3. Election.
The candidates are Kimberly Campbell-Voytal, Harihar Kulkarni, Blake A. Mathie, James Mazurek, Lisa McIntyre, Douglas Miller, Sarah Prescott, Lindsey Wilson and Sherrie Winfield.
Hometown Life emailed questions to the nine regarding their interest with the school board. Candidates were given word limits for responses. Those that exceeded the limit were cut off. Six candidates responded.
Kimberly Campbell-Voytal is a teacher and nurse who earned a PhD in medical anthropology and Masters of Science in Nursing, clinical nurse specialist, public health disease prevention.
Harihar Kulkarni, 76, is a retired technical manager for Ford who earned a PhD in mechanical engineering from University of Knoxville, Tennessee & Masters of Science in aeronautical engineering.
James Mazurek, longtime engineer in the automotive industry is vice president of sales & business development for Neusoft America. He earned a Master’s in Engineering from the U of M Rackham Graduate School and MBA from the Michigan State University Executive Management Program.
Lisa McIntyre, 49, is a licensed professional counselor. She earned a BA in psychology from Kalamazoo College; MS in mental health counseling from University of Saint Francis.
Sarah Prescott, 43, is a lawyer and business owner. She earned a JD Harvard Law School JD, a BA in biology at Northwestern University.
Sherrie Winfield, works in human resources for Ford Motor Company. She earned her BS in Management and MBA from Tulane University.
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Why are you running for office?
Kimberly Campbell-Voytal (Photo: Courtesy of Kimberly Campbell-Voytal)
Campbell-Voytal: This is an era of remarkable opportunity and challenge in education. Schools are being reimagined and the role of teachers transformed. Districts are faced with simultaneous public health and public education obligations to ensure safe learning environments. Ongoing social and environmental challenges require a responsive curriculum. Now is the time for public health expertise on the school board. My teaching and professional practice in disease prevention will make an important contribution to navigating these forces.
Kulkarni: Alleviate community concerns of hitting breakpoint between COVID-19 safety, student educational needs and – paying for it while sustaining economic impact. Apply skills for the safety of community and to raise school standard bar. Committed to the success of educational system while meeting safety guidelines for community, teachers, and students at Northville School
Mazurek: Our schools are a key part of why people come to Northville. We are a large district with a small-town feel. I worked through the District’s tough times in 2010 and participated in making the difficult decisions to help us become one of the strongest districts in the state. I have the experience and want to make sure we keep our Academic excellence strong for the next generation of students.
McIntyre: I want to help the Northville community of students, parents, educators and administrators evolve and excel during the next four years. I believe the NBoE must improve collaboration between each of these education stakeholders to ensure that every student has access to the most complete and competitive academic opportunities in the safest and most equitable ways possible. My youngest child will graduate in 2030 and our time to focus on wellness and inclusion is now.
Prescott: I want to help our community. I have three young kids in the District, and I want to make sure our resources are maximized for decades to come. My professional expertise is in the areas School Districts are most likely to be sued, and I have been involved in many suits involving schools. I joined the Board to help ensure our District would not waste taxpayer dollars on unforced errors.
Winfield: I am running because I possess essential and relevant skills that uniquely qualify me to be a strong advocate for all our children. I represent a story, a voice and a demographic that is presently missing from the BOE. I intend to focus on engaged, transparent and accountable leadership delivering real results for all our children.
What attributes or skills do you bring to the school board that will help move the school district and education forward into the future?
Kulkarni: Demonstrated application of technical and interpersonal skills to lead team of experts to optimize design of products and processes and to implement in manufacturing plants globally. Experience: Retired Technical Manager with 44 years of exquisite service at FORD. Recipient of two Henry Ford Technology awards and two of USA patents.
Mazurek: I was on the BOE for 8 years 2010 – 2018, holding the positions of President, VP, and Secretary twice. I have been on Northville Parks and Recreation Commission as well as the Northville Senior Advisory Commission. We have supported the PTA and Northville Education Foundation for many years. Most recently I was the Citizen Chairman of the 2020 Sinking Fund Advocacy Committee. I bring a commonsense approach and have always listened to our community.
McIntyre: As a mother of three children in NPS, an active volunteer and PTA Board Member in our community and a mental health professional with 30 years of experience, I possess many skills necessary to lead during times of growth and change. Empathy, engaged, creativity, flexibility, humility, principled and resiliency are a few of the key attributes and skills that I would draw upon through the BoE to confidently deliver the best education experiences for NPS.
Prescott: My Board experience will help us continue to improve on the Covid plan and other priorities without delay. As anyone who has been to a Board meeting knows, I always come prepared and strongly push for continuous improvement. I am a recognized expert in legal fields that touch schools; my skills have helped NPS avoid costly legal battles. In short, I will contribute experience, a vested stake in our success, and relevant professional skills.
Winfield: I’ve worked at Ford Motor Company as a Senior Human Resources Manager for 28 years. During my tenure, I’ve developed and honed skills that are transferrable to the board of education. My more relevant skills include: Developing Corporate COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols; Creating and delivering educational curriculum; Developing and facilitating Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-harassment policy and instruction; Leading labor contract negotiations; Managing multi-million-dollar budgets; Certified in Organization Development and Change Management.
Campbell-Voytal: I am an educational leader and retired Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Wayne State University. In this capacity I directed graduate and undergraduate programs in public health. I am a Clinical Nurse Specialist working to prevent chronic disease, obesity, diabetes, and asthma, in school-aged children. I also have quality improvement experience in complex health systems that translates into the types of challenges districts face today.
What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Mazurek: We are facing many challenges: Budget constraints, Teacher shortages, Social emotional health of our students to name a few. The most pressing may be the Best Practices in online learning and providing training/tools to our teachers and parents to achieve proficiency as fast as possible. It is a critical need, as we may be doing online longer than we think. If elected this will be one of the key areas I focus on.
McIntyre: The most pressing issue facing NPS today is the need for real collaboration within the community. The barriers to providing education at this point in the return to learn are putting an incredible strain on educators in terms of misalignment with what the BoE expects to deliver and what is possible. Delivering education that best meets the needs of students safely and equitably, while being mindful of physical and mental wellness must be the focus
Prescott: Because of Covid, we have been re-creating what education looks like from the ground up. Such drastic change increases the risk of mistakes, miscommunications or errors that lead to legal challenges. To focus on continuous improvement, we need expertise to cut through legal issues and avoid becoming embroiled in problems that distract and deplete us. I have both professional experience and Board experience to troubleshoot and avoid or address issues as they arise.
Winfield: As we all know, we are living in unprecedented times facing a global health crisis. The central question is “how do we keep our children safe AND continue to educate them to our customary standards of achievement”? It’s not an either-or proposition. It’s both. I plan to use my experience from working on Ford’s Health & Safety COVID-19 Taskforces to facilitate collaborative problem solving for the benefit of our students, faculty, and staff alike.
Campbell-Voytal: The effective implementation of Northville’s ‘Back to School Plan’ is our most pressing issue. Schools have pivoted quickly to online or hybrid teaching. Teachers are adapting to new learning management systems, revising instructional practices, and tackling student learning gaps resulting from the spring closures. A successful restart will require that we suppress the virus in schools. It will also require that we support the resilience of families as we work together to educate our children.
Kulkarni: There is a need to institutionalize hands -on technical programs at schools. Establish facility at school to bolster current technical programs.Currently counselor have little time to guide students properly to select proper subjects necessary to build future career of their choice. Hire more counselors School District is faced with safety of community in the COVID-19 environment. Ensure adaptation of Schoology program based on updated state and local health guidelines.
What do you consider the school district’s strongest attributes?
McIntyre: Northville Public Schools offers an incredible array of academic programming, beginning with early childhood education through high school. The breadth of programming offered in terms of international language, creative arts, math and science prepares students for the most competitive post-high school academic opportunities. With top notch academics, a rich arts tradition and strong athletic programs, NPS attracts professional families, which allow the district to maintain excellence through generous financial support through bonds and millage approvals.
Prescott: Our strength is in our community commitment to public education. Our parents are tremendous partners, working to help their kids succeed, staffing our PTAs, and supporting NEF. Voters graciously aid us via millage votes, giving us resources we need. Boosters tirelessly help support our sports and clubs. Community members also often promote new programming or policies that our Board then adopts, such as our addition of Orchestra and Mandarin during my term.
Winfield: Northville schools are known for a tradition of academic excellence. This is the number one reason my family moved to the district 16 years ago. The district does an excellent job in preparing students for college. Students consistently score above national averages on standardized college entrance exams. NPS has a 96 percent or better graduation rate and graduates are among the top scholarship earners in the state.
Campbell-Voytal: One of the most important attributes of this district is the time and talent of Northville’s community partners and families who generously volunteer to enrich learning environments inside and outside of school. Another critical attribute is the excellence of teachers and tireless leadership of administrators who work together to develop creative opportunities for kids. We are all united by a shared vision of excellence that maximizes learning for every Northville child.
Kulkarni: Northville School system is one of the top-rated school systems in the USA. School emphasizes highly on academic skill. Majority of the students are admitted to well-known universities (University of Michigan, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc.) in the USA. School District have adopted good combination of in-person and virtual teaching options. (SCHOOLOGY). Such option will safeguard community and educate students properly.
Mazurek: Our focus on Best Practices to deliver Educational Excellence. The District has strived via a long-term plan to put in place proven Programs, Methods, and Techniques to deliver superior student performance. Examples: Leader in Me (Lighthouse status as 1 of only 2 in the country to achieve); International Baccalaureate; MTSS; Building and Classroom redesign are just a few of the examples. Finally, is the overarching focus on the “Culture of Learning and Leadership”.
What should your school district do to better prepare students as citizens?
Prescott: Our graduating seniors are incredibly articulate, smart and savvy, but our country as a whole is struggling with how to engage politically in a healthy way. We can and should model how this works. I support a program in which our District hosts public debates on important public issues, with civil, intelligent speakers invited to demonstrate the skill and the value of maintaining a respectful discourse while they grapple with disputed issues.
Winfield: Diversity in our country has grown. Northville is no exception. Research shows that fostering diversity and inclusion yields numerous benefits. In an academic environment, exposure to diversity improves cognitive and critical thinking; promotes safety and creativity; and prepares students for a global workforce. All (majority and non-majority) students share in these benefits. Our shared goal should be to foster a climate in which each student feels personally safe, listened to, valued, and respected.
Campbell-Voytal: Northville undeniably embraces the commitment to prepare graduates for global citizenship. This work, though, is never done. As a small district, are obliged to continuously seek out ways to expose students to diverse peoples, places, and modes of thinking. Opportunities should be provided across the curriculum for self-reflection, effective communication, and awareness of systemic bias and social disadvantage. Citizenship is action oriented. Students should also have opportunities to engage with other students in well-considered action.
Kulkarni: School needs to encourage students to participate in National competitions and to develop hands-on skills to design and optimize hardware necessary to win competitions, such as First Robotic, Digital Innovations, etc. School may arrange regular seminars to ingrain student creativity by highlighting and discuss accomplishments and persistence efforts of well successful citizens like Bill Gate, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, etc. This will encourage them to build their future career, be a good contributing citizen, and…
Mazurek: Help our students understand how to communicate and debate our differences of opinions while remaining calm and respectful. The way to make any kind of change happen is through constructive dialogue and understanding of other perspectives. This has been a strong trait of the BOE, the ability to talk through our differences and gain understanding on where we agree. It is a skill we need to bring back to the daily discourse in our society.
McIntyre: Evolving STEAM curriculum, developing an awareness of the impact of cultural differences within our community, and preparing students with an understanding of mental health concepts starting with the earliest learners is critical. Improving early identification of individual learning styles with regular opportunities to evaluate gaps between potential and performance will provide timely intervention. For each child’s potential to become a reality, encouraging a wider range of career opportunities would support a broader definition of success.
Anything else to share?
Winfield: I am the proud mother of two daughters; Rachel, NHS Class of 2018 and Victoria, NHS Class of 2023. While I have been happy with the academic standards of the school system. I believe in continuous improvement. Given this point in our nation’s history, it is critical to bring our community together. I am running because I intend to make a positive impact on behalf of ALL of kids.
Campbell-Voytal: My family has lived in Northville for more than 33 years. Our children were educated here, and our granddaughter is in the school system now. The schools are at the core of what binds us as a community. If elected I would be honored to have the opportunity to strengthen and advance the excellence that we all have come to value.
Mazurek: Most people don’t realize the level of diversity in our district. Roughly 25% come from families where English in not the native language. Our students speak 50+ different languages at home. I believe our students understand our global culture possibly better than our parents. Despite the diversity, we must be vigilant to ensure we treat each other with respect and that no bullying or use of social media is used in a divisive manor.
McIntyre: As a leader in the Ridge Wood PTA, I have demonstrated the ability to identify areas of need and collaborate with my team to implement fun and innovative programs while engaging the community toward a common goal. Northville Public Schools would benefit greatly from my presence on the NBoE as a creative, solution-focused woman, who is also a life-long learner particularly related to children, mental health, education, and evolving best practices. Visit: https://LisaMcIntyreNPSBoard.com.
Prescott: If you would like to learn more about me, my campaign website is at northvilleschoolboard.com. Serving our community on our Board of Education has been an honor and responsibility I take very seriously. I will continue to always give my best to our District, kids and teachers. I’d appreciate your vote.
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