Nancy Proto: Candidate for Northampton County School Board At-Large Position
On November 3rd Northampton County residents will elect a new At-Large School Board member. I am seeking election because of my strong conviction that every child deserves the opportunity to reach his or her potential in order to become a happy, productive member of society. To achieve this, they need a quality education.
I have a Masters Degree in School Psychology, New York State and National Certification as a school psychologist and Certification in School District Administration. I have twenty-five (25) years experience as a school psychologist in a public school in upstate NY with a proven track record for leadership, problem solving and child advocacy. I effectively provided training and took the lead role in implementing major changes in my district as a result of the revision of IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. I also provided training in the administration and data management of new assessments and helped facilitate appropriate interventions and programs for at-risk students.
My husband and our three children are all public school graduates. I was raised in Milford, DE and graduated from MHS. I am on the Board of Directors for the Northampton County Education Foundation where I served as the Vice Chair as well as Program Committee Chair. I had a lead role in organizing the Pre-K Family Camp sponsored by the NCEF in 2013 and facilitated the parent sessions for the camp. This camp served as a model for the Pre-K camps that were offered this past summer at Kiptopeke and Occohannock Elementary Schools where over thirty (30) students and their families attended. I am also an Eastern Shore Literacy Council volunteer, an active member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church and have offered parenting classes on a volunteer basis in the community.
If elected, my primary goals would be to strengthen early education efforts, improve parent engagement and community involvement, provide support to at-risk students, support teachers and exercise fiscal responsibility. In order to make gains in these areas, we need to recognize the overarching issue of poverty. We as a board need explore ways to tackle this issue and its impact on our students. Over 77 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The state average is 42 percent. Of that 77 percent, 70 percent qualify for free. Poverty matters. It is the root cause of many of the challenges our schools face. We need to get serious about how it affects students’ emotional lives, attention spans, early education, school attendance and academic achievement. Classroom teachers alone cannot teach away the ills of poverty. They need support. Families need our help. We need to start building relationships if we are going to overcome the barriers of poverty.
Teacher retention is another primary concern. Every year for the past several years we lose over thirty (30) teachers to other districts or other careers. This results not only in building level instability, but it means that many of our high-risk students are being taught by inexperienced teachers. While low salaries are certainly a component of this turnover, research suggests that other factors that are social in nature can affect job satisfaction and can be as important or more in retaining teachers. We need to look at these factors and make sure that we are optimizing the odds of retaining our teachers.
The public school system is the cornerstone of any community and an economic driver of that community. Businesses and families choose to locate or not locate in an area based upon the quality of the public school system. There are many positive aspects of Northampton Public Schools. Test scores are up; enrollment is increasing. As a new school board member I want to building on this momentum. I have a solid track record of setting and accomplishing goals and doing it well. I have already demonstrated my commitment to the community and I look forward to the opportunity to serve in a broader capacity.
We all have a responsibility to do what we can to make things better in our little corner of the world. This is what I want to do. To do this, however, I need your support. I need your vote on November 3rd.
If you would like to discuss my candidacy further, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached either by phone 757-331-4664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.