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Hockessin Community News
  • Red Clay's District A features three-horse race for school board

  • The Red Clay Board of Education race for District A has drawn the most crowded field and the most diversity for district residents planning to vote in the May 14 school board election. Two Ph.D. academics and a tutor for inner city youths, all of the city of Wilmington, comprise the field of contestants vying to replace outing Red Clay Board President Leah Davis, a former teacher in the district.
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  • The Red Clay Board of Education race for District A has drawn the most crowded field and the most diversity for district residents planning to vote in the May 14 school board election.
    Two Ph.D. academics and a tutor for inner city youths, all of the city of Wilmington, comprise the field of contestants vying to replace outing Red Clay Board President Leah Davis, a former teacher in the district.
    The Hockessin Community News chatted with each candidate to find out more about these respective candidates and what each brings to the table.

    DR. ADRIANA BOHM
    AGE 43
    FAMILY Husband, daughter Rana and son, Ché, students at Highlands Elementary
    TOWN Wilmington (Highlands)
    EDUCATION Ph.D. from Temple University in Sociology, MA in Sociology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, BA in Sociology from the University of Delaware, diploma from John Dickinson High school, also attended Stanton Middle and Warner Elementary schools
    OCCUPATION Associate Professor of Sociology at Delaware County Community College, 12 years
    CIVIC EXPERIENCE Advocacy Chair of the PTA for Highlands Elementary School, member of the Superintendent-Parent Council, Wilmington Schools Committee
    Q Why did you decide to run?
    A I decided to run for the school board because after being actively involved in hands-on advocacy throughout the district via the Highlands PTA, the Superintendent Parent Council, the Wilmington Schools Committee and other district wide meetings and committees over the past five years, I realized that the most effective way to improve educational processes and outcomes is from a policy perspective. The first step towards doing this is by assessing the effectiveness of some of our long standing educational policies. This is paramount to district improvement. We all want our kids to be competitive in today's world; as such, we need to provide them with the strongest educations possible, focusing on relevant career and college opportunities in both domestic and global markets. Some of our policies work very well, and others are in need of improvement.
    Q What do you think are the two most important challenges Red Clay faces presently?
    A If we truly want to move forward as a district we have roll up our sleeves, make a commitment to talk about and tackle difficult issues, look at what other districts have done successfully in areas we need to improve upon, and create models which serve our needs. Red Clay can do this. We might get dirty in that process, but that shouldn't stop us. As a mother of two elementary age school children and an involved parent, as a Red Clay graduate, as a community member, and as an educator, there are a number of issues which Red Clay faces, and which Red Clay can successfully address. Those paramount to the district include inclusion, equity and concentrated poverty, and technology.
    Page 2 of 4 - Q What can the Red Clay Consolidated School District do to improve?
    A In order for our district to achieve educational successes for all of children, it is imperative to address the concerns the community (i.e., parents, educators, administrators, staff, city and suburban residents) regularly raise in regards to the implementation of inclusion, the needs of our high poverty schools and students, and the fact that much of our technology is outdated. These issues are not specific to Red Clay, and they are not new to our district. These issues have been raised in our community for years.
    Q Why should the people elect you over your respective opponents?
    A I am the strongest school board candidate because I have been a part of this community for over 30 years, I have engaged in educational advocacy on a district-wide basis for the past five years, I have over 17 years of experience as an educator developing, implementing and assessing educational policy which directly impacts inclusion, student retention, student achievement and success, academic rigor, curricula development, diversity, technology, educator and administrator evaluation processes, hiring practices, and professional development. I am the woman for this job!
    ROBERT COOPER
    AGE 58
    FAMILY Divorced, son and daughter, two grandchildren
    TOWN Wilmington
    EDUCATION Two years at Delaware Technical & Community College, diploma from P.S. duPont high School (in the former Wilmington School District), St. Mary and St. Patrick's School
    OCCUPATION retired firefighter and community activist
    CIVIC EXPERIENCE Wilmington Fire Advisory Board, tutor at Shiloh Baptist Church and throughout the city, WEMA Organization, Girls Inc., Southeast Ninth Ward Civic Association public safety chairman
    Q Why did you decide to run?
    A I'm running for the school board because I look at the population that we serve in District A and I see how the children are struggling; I tutor and I see it. So, as I look at what's going on I'm looking to change those test scores. I'm running to correct that wrong – to instill the tools necessary for them to be successful.
    Q What do you think are the two most important challenges Red Clay faces presently?
    A We have a crisis with the low performing schools. The dropout rate has been a big issue for African American males in the city of Wilmington. I think that the business [consulting] model should be thrown out and we should go back to the traditional educational model. I mean, math is math. English is English. We have gotten away from the basics.
    Page 3 of 4 - Q What can the Red Clay Consolidated School District does to improve?
    A Red Clay needs to look out for the have nots. Because the district is made up of haves and have nots. We've got to turn around hopelessness, despair and young men shooting each other. When you have young men dropping out of school, not educated and can't get a job, that's all part of our demise. We have babies who are having babies. We need to do the things Joe Clark did – (of "Lean on Me" fame) – and meet with parents and find out what's going on.
    Q Why should the people elect you over your respective opponents?
    A I've got the time, the patience, the dedication and the passion. I have been in the streets for over 20 years. I live in the community where I served as a firefighter. I'm also a United States Marine. No one is looking at this and saying I need to pick up the baton and run with this.
    DR. BRYAN TRACY
    AGE 31
    FAMILY Wife - Melissa Blair, a six year teacher in Red Clay School District.
    TOWN Wilmington (Trolley Square)
    EDUCATION Ph.D. in Chemical & Biological Engineering – Northwestern University, BS in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering – North Carolina State University,Spartanburg (S.C.) High School (4-time National Blue Ribbon, Title One school)
    OCCUPATION CEO at Elcriton Inc., Co-founder and Head Scientist at White Dog Labs,Supplemental Professional at University of Delaware in Chemical Engineering
    CIVIC EXPERIENCE Board member of FAME (Forum to Advance Minorities in Engineering), Mentor in Delaware Youth Leadership Network, hosting seven Red Clay and Delaware students for job shadowing or internships, Principal for the Day at Pleasantville Elementary School, Co-creator of STEMulated Pathways, mentoring and donating food and personal items to Pleasantville Elementary, Judge for Delaware BioGENEius Science Fair, Demonstrator for Science for All Delawareans, member of Conrad Schools of Science Industrial Advisory Council
    Q Why did you decide to run?
    A Red Clay has the potential to break through from good to great! Central to that goal is equitable education for all students, community investment throughout the district, and constructive dialogue between all stakeholders. We need solutions and action, not just advocacy. Moreover, solutions should be created out of collective compromise, and championed by experienced and rational leaders. I will bring these qualities to the Red Clay School Board. From a more personal perspective, I believe now is my time to invest in my future children's education. Accordingly, I have no conflicts preventing me from working for all students. Finally, I have a keen awareness of teachers' needs, given my wife's six-year tenure as a Red Clay teacher. Many of Red Clay's upcoming issues will directly impact teachers. Thus the Board needs a strong, Red Clay K-12 teacher's voice.
    Page 4 of 4 - Q What do you think are the two most important challenges Red Clay faces presently?
    A Overall, the most important challenge is achieving equitable education for all students, which includes high-need, special-need, talented and gifted, and English Language Learner populations. This is actually a handful of challenges summed into a single, very large challenge. Within that handful, equitable education for special-needs students is very immediate, given that the district is moving towards a full inclusion model, whereby special needs student populations are taught in traditional classroom settings with their same aged peers. Being the sibling of a special needs sister, I intimately recognize the emotional pros and cons, while recognizing that full inclusion can bring about better equity in public education. Accordingly, I am in support, but I also have serious concerns about class sizes, whether enough resources have been allocated and if teachers are fully prepared and supported. The second most pressing challenge in my opinion is adopting and fully implementing the Common Core standards. I believe Common Core has the potential to greatly increase student achievement and create a "smarter balance" of education in our state.
    Q What can the Red Clay Consolidated School District do to improve?
    A the district can improve by placing equitable education as its highest priority. This will then funnel down into all other decisions. Additionally, I believe Red Clay can better engage the wealth of community resources that are available. Delaware has a tremendous number of non-profit organizations and individuals that are genuinely interested in providing service. Moreover, we have a large business community whose resources are relatively untapped. Now is the perfect time to lay out a clearer framework for community investment. Given greater community investment, schools can "outsource" certain needs to the community, and consequently focus more of their efforts on teaching. Finally, Red Clay can continue to foster more open lines of discussion between all stakeholders in the education.
    Q Why should the people elect you over your respective opponents?
    A I will bring a unique, experienced and broad skill set to the Board that I believe best compliments the current board make-up. That skill set ranges from organizational governance, to teaching, to civic service, to strategic planning, to coalition building, to data analysis and to accountability for my decisions. I also bring a well-informed perspective of the needs and concerns of teachers given that my wife and many of our friends are Red Clay teachers. Finally, I bring a rational, go-getter's passion to translate advocacy into action, such that less time is spent talking about problems, and more energy is focused on creating solutions.

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