I’m Suzette Waters, and I’m running for Columbia Board of Education in the April 5, 2022 election. Please reach out if you want to know more about me or why I think public schools are important.
My reason for running for school board is to champion public school as the best method we have for educating all of our children. I believe every child has greatness within them, and it is our job to discover and develop that greatness. We need board members who can make connections across the community to support our schools, and I believe I can.
My qualifications to serve
I have been a dedicated volunteer in every school my kids have attended for the past 13 years. As a brand-new kindergarten parent at Grant Elementary School, I was asked to be in charge of the Grant Centennial celebration, which took two years to plan. It was extremely challenging, as I knew only two other parents at the school. I had to pivot many times when other volunteers backed out, we hit a wall, etc. We ended up having a great 100-Year Reunion for all Grant alumni families at The Blue Note, and we raised $20,000 for the school by selling engraved bricks.
I have helped with all classroom activities — room parent, Friday folders, Read-a-thon, Funesta, field trips, class parties, you name it. Being a parent volunteer is a great way to get to know teachers and form relationships with kids from different backgrounds.
At West Elementary School, I spent a full semester coming to two daily class periods at least once a week, sometimes twice, to help tutor kids in a 7th grade social studies classroom. It was a big class and there was a wide range of achievement. I took students who were struggling into the hall and worked with them on skills or maps or assignments. They made progress. I learned their stories. I saw many of them go from being down about school to realizing they had it in them to succeed.
In 2018, I started a parent group to advocate for high-achieving secondary students. I surveyed parents and students to determine needs and began working with Dr. Beth Winton, the district Coordinator for Secondary Gifted, to urge more course options in middle school. This came out of my frustration watching my own kids be completely underserved in grades 6-8. I knew they would be out of middle school before any change was ever made but I pursued the work so that future middle-school kids could benefit.
At Hickman, I have served as the PTSA secretary and, most recently, treasurer for two years. There have been many weeks I am at school more than I am at my part-time job as a registered dental hygienist, which shows that I have committed my time to school service.
Time to serve
Since filing to run for school board, I have had more than 50 in-person or Zoom meetings with district administrators, principals, teachers, community organizers, executive directors, etc. I have spent hours reading through contracts and looking at our 423-page budget. I’ve been to the last four Board of Education meetings and a work session. This endeavor will take a lot of time to do right and I am willing to commit to that. I could not have done it well when my kids were younger, as they had more hands-on needs, but I now have the time to devote to this work.