Winona Daily News Q & A

The Winona Daily News recently asked me a series of questions. For some reason they have yet to use this Q & A. I am providing you my answers to their questions.

1. What inspired you to run for this position?

My inspiration to be a school board member is rooted in my sense of responsibility to serve my community and my country.  I am not angry.  I am not looking for something to do.  I do not have personal gains in mind.  I simply am trying to help.

2. What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

I am a professor of education who prepares teachers.  I research and write about public education.  I have a knack to get things done.  I enjoy working with people.  I am an optimistic person.  I am an advocate for the role of public education in preserving and perpetuating our democratic society.

I am pleased with the progress our district has made during my year and a half on the board.  I believe we are heading in the right direction – as our practices are aligning with sound research and theory.  I am willing to roll my sleeves up and provide a steady and stable influence for the school district. 

3. What experience and skills do you have that you believe will benefit your work in this position?

My entire adult life has been dedicated to public education.  I was a high school teacher for 10 years.  I have been a professor of education for about 13 years.  I strive to be a resonant leader who deeply cares for our students, teachers, and support service professionals.   

4. How do you plan to connect closely with your constituents?

I have a social media presence.  I regularly visit classrooms when I can.  I have, on occasion, walked around communities asking for constituents’ input.  I am responsive when contacted by a community member.

5. What do you think the position of the school board should be in the community?

A school board member sets policy for the district – and in doing so seeks to ensure that the district is moving on a progressive, fiscally prudent track.  School board members hold the district accountable for providing a high-quality educational experience for students. 

I also believe that a school board member should be a visionary with a high level of interpersonal skills who seeks to foster a healthy social climate within a school district.  School board members are living symbols of their respective school district and should portray a compassionate, mindful, and hopeful vision of the district to the community.

6. What powers/responsibilities do you think the superintendent should have?

The superintendent executes the policies set forth by the school board.  The superintendent manages all aspects of the school district on a day to day basis and pays close attention to staffing issues within the district. 

The superintendent, like school board members, should be a visionary with a high level of interpersonal skills who seeks to foster a healthy social climate within a school district.  Superintendents, like school board members, are living symbols of their respective school district and should portray a compassionate, mindful, and hopeful vision of the district to the community.

7. Do you think changes should be made to the district’s curriculum? If so, can you give examples?

Yes.  I believe that the district needs to put most of their attention on this matter.  Our district’s curriculum needs to gravitate around the district’s World’s Best Workforce strategic plan.  It is how the state assesses school districts.  This plan revolves around 5 goals: ensuring all children are ready for school; ensure all third-graders can read at grade level; ensuring that all racial and economic achievement gaps between students are closed; ensuring all students are ready for career and college; ensuring that all students graduate from high school.  These goals should be at the forefront of all curricular decision making in the district.  Thankfully, this is now happening.

8. How should students that identify in minority groups (students of color, LGBTQ+ students, etc.) be supported by the school? Do you think more opportunities should be available to help them and prevent hate against them?

I would like to see more opportunities to help students that identify in minority groups.  The key with this is to provide a school culture that empowers such students who are not from majority-status populations.  This includes all things from providing a multicultural curriculum that promotes civic action to promoting a diverse student governing body to ensure no students’ voices are marginalized in the district. Our district should also be cognizant of ways it may exclude such students and be more intentional with being inclusive.

9. What do you believe should be some key focuses as future budgets are created?

I would like to see our district begin to discuss budgeting and staffing in December – as opposed to the Spring.  The rationale is that I would like the school board, teachers, along with administrative staff to be included in these decisions.  We took a positive step last school year by providing each building with autonomy over their own budget.  This is a more equitable and effective approach.  I now would like to see the board to be included earlier in these conversations.  I also want teachers included because they uniquely know the types of support they need in their classrooms.  Plus, this enhances collective teacher efficacy in the district – which spills out to improve student achievement.

10. If you had to cut expenses, where would you do so?

I first would start with anything that is inefficient in the operation of the building.  I then would transition to anything that is not seeing growth in student interest and participation.  Anything that is not equitably serving our students. 

11. What are your main goals for education in our community?

To ensure that our district achieves its goals spelled out in its World’s Best Workforce strategic plan.  In conjunction with that, I want to focus on the structural decision making of the district – as I am always wanting to see a healthy balance between administrators and teachers when it comes to decision making in the district.  Progressive schools do such things.

12. What are some of the biggest issues that you think our school district is facing?

I will provide you two things – and they are related:

  1. Achieve the goals laid out in the World’s Best Workforce strategic plan.
  2. Ensure that the district engages in equitable and inclusive practices – being especially cognizant of race, ableness, gender, and social class.

About you:

1. What’s your connection to our community? (Ex: How long have you lived here?)

My family moved to Winona in 2013.  We chose to live in Winona because we thought it would be a great place to raise our family – and it is.  I came after being offered a position as a professor of education at Winona State University.

2. What other ways have you participated in our community?

I have been active in church activities and an active participant in the district’s Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program.  I have been an active member of the university community at Winona State University.

3. How old are you?

I just turned 47 years old earlier this month.

4. What do you do for work?

Professor of Education at Winona State University.  I prepare teacher candidates and lately have begun to help preparing doctoral candidates.  I thoroughly enjoy my job and feel blessed to call it my work.

5. Tell me about your family. (Ex. Children, marriage, etc.)

I am married to my wife, Christa.  We have four children: Lani (12), Wilt (10), Swin (9), and Myrene (6).

If you would like to know more about me, please check out my website: www.jimschul.com

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