Friday, October 28, 2016

News and Notes 3.8

Special Edition: Meet the Candidates

We are less than two weeks away from an election that is not only HUGE [read in a Donald Trump voice] for the nation, but is pretty important at our local level as well. We have our sinking fund millage up for vote. This millage will allow us to take care of some important updates to our district facilities. This includes a new wireless network that is currently severely outdated, limiting our ability to use technology in the classroom to the fullest, along with some much needed maintenance to athletic facilities and classrooms we have been putting off as we focused on stabilizing the district financially. You can find more information to read and share with other voters HERE.

We also have some Board of Education seats to fill. Three seats with six-year terms and one seat for a partial term are up for grabs. We have four candidates, Eliza Bivins-Fink; incumbent Michelle Kritzman; John Meadows Jr. and incumbent Laura Schwennesen running for the three six-year terms. No one is running for the partial term that would end in 2020, therefore the Board of Education would appoint someone for that position.

We wanted to help you inform your vote, so below you will find interviews with each of the candidates. Thank you for getting out and voting on November 8.

Eliza Bivins-Fink
Site Coordinator, EMU Bright Futures after school programming at Ypsilanti Community High School

Q: Tell us about your family.
My husband, Howard Fink, and I have one son, Elliot who is a year and half.

Q: What is your education background?
I graduated from Grand Rapids Union High School in 1996. I completed my Bachelor's Degree in English Language and Literature from Grand Valley State University in 2001. I earned my Masters of Arts in Education with Secondary Teaching Certification (content area: ELA) from the University of Michigan in 2013.

Q: What community organizations or causes are you dedicated to?
I am a strong supporter of community arts, health and education. I am not currently volunteering with any organizations.

Q: Why are you running for WLPS school board, and what makes you unique as a candidate?
I have a background in education and now that my family has settled in the district I want to get more involved. I believe strongly in the public education system and want to contribute to its health and longevity. I think I am a unique candidate because I have professional experience in many aspects of education. I was an admissions officer at a private school in Chicago, an Assistant Director of Fundraising and Development for an adult education program in Evanston, IL, and Director of Student Records at a Seminary in Chicago. I am also very passionate about equitable access to high quality education and educational programming for the whole community.

Michelle Kritzman
Nuclear Medical Physicist, Medical Physics Consultant

Q: Tell us about your family.
A: Jim and I have been married 19 years. We have three children, Mark (14-years-old in 9th grade) Luke (12-years-old in 7th grade) and Joey (6-years-old in 1st grade). Mark plays in the WLHS marching band and is my running buddy. We have completed multiple half marathons, and we just completed our second full marathon in September! Luke is participating in the MS drama club’s production of Sally Cotter and the Prisoner of Ala Katraz. I’m super excited to see the play on December 2-4. He also participates in robotics and the community recreation soccer league. Joey is enjoying being in first grade and participating in community recreation soccer. To round out the family, we have two Labrador retrievers, Moose and Higgins.

Q: What is your education background?
A: I graduated from Atherton High School (Burton, MI) in 1989. After high school, I attended Central Michigan University for two years before transferring to Ferris State University. I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology in 1993. This included a one year internship at the University of Michigan Medical Center from 1992-1993. In 2000, I completed my Master of Science in Radiological Physics from Wayne State University.

Q: What community organizations or causes are you dedicated to?
A: I have served as the Whitmore Lake parent representative on the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District for over 7 years, coached community recreation soccer for 3-6 year olds for the past two seasons and was appointed to fill a vacated position on the Board of Education in December.  

Q: Why are you running for WLPS school board, and what makes you unique as a candidate?
The Board of Education plays an essential role in the academic success of our children. I am running for this position to support strong educational programming while maintaining fiscal responsibility to ensure a solid district in the future. I bring the experience that I have obtained while serving on the Board this year to make decisions that will continue to benefit WLPS. My greatest asset though is my children. With children in both schools, I am a voice for all of the children, from the young learning the basics to those preparing for success after graduation.

John Meadows Jr.
Crop Consultant and Dispatcher, Crop Production Service

Q: Tell us about your family.
I am married to Ramona, and we have two children, Jamie (12) and Natalie (10).

Q: What is your education background?
I went to WLPS (K-12) and graduated in 1990. I continued on to Michigan State University and earned a Bachelors Degree in Food Systems Economics and Management in 1995.   

Q: What community organizations or causes are you dedicated to?
I have been involved for several years with Whitmore Lake Junior Football and Cheer and have worked on many projects for both the football fields and school grounds. I have also been coaching basketball with the community recreation program for a couple years.

Q: Why are you running for WLPS school board, and what makes you unique as a candidate?
I am running for the WLPS school board for a variety of reasons:
1) To be part of a team of teachers and administrators that are providing an exceptional education to our students. I will work to grow and enhance WLPS.
2) I will help to continue down the path of fiscal responsibility. WLPS has a growing fund balance, and we are not a deficit spending district. With financial strength comes opportunity for our students both academic and extracurricular.
3) Stabilizing and growing our student population is critical to the success of WLPS and will be a top priority for me.
I have lived in this community for over 40 years. I was educated and graduated from WLHS. I understand the value of a small school and a personalized education. 

Whitmore Lake has experienced many highs and lows through the years. We are a community that perseveres. I believe the school is the backbone of our community. The opportunity to be on the WLPS school board will give me the chance to give back to the community that has given me so much. 

Laura Schwennesen
Director of Contracts, Altarum Institute

Q: Tell us about your family.
My husband Jeff and I just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. We have two kids who both attend school in Whitmore Lake. Matt is 15 and a sophomore and Claire is 14 and a freshman. We also have a cute and curly 4 year old labradoodle, Lucy. 

Q: What is your education background?
I graduated from Fenton High School in 1989. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University. I have also taken courses toward a Masters in Public Adminstration from Eastern Michigan University. 

Q: What community organizations or causes are you dedicated to?
I support Whitmore Lake athletics and am a mentor for the High School Robotics team, the TroBots. I greatly support our community and have volunteered with Northfield Human Services. 

Q: Why are you running for WLPS school board, and what makes you unique as a candidate?
I think the heartbeat of any community is a strong school system--one that offers a personalized education, one that encourages students to reach their full potential, one that has great teachers and staff, one that offers extracurricular activities. Whitmore Lake Public Schools does all of that; and by serving on the Board of Education, I will have a wonderful opportunity to give back to our community and keep our schools strong. Having my children attending schools here gives me a unique perspective, and I am passionate about giving our students the best possible academic programming and offering sports and club activities for everyone. I truly see first hand the benefits of a small district that cares for all. 

Our district, like many others in the state, have faced some tough decisions recently. Our Board, administration and staff have come together to meet the needs of our students while operating in a fiscally responsible environment. That is a true testament to the dedication of everyone involved.

I believe staying engaged with the broader community to showcase all that WLPS has to offer is important for keeping our enrollment stablized and growing. Also maintaining our fiduciary obligations puts us on a good solid footing going forward.

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