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Candidate Profile: Kari Morrison

New Glarus School board

There are three candidates running for two spots on the New Glarus school board. Ellyn Runde is the incumbent; Kari Morrison and Debra Fairbanks are also running.

Position sought: New Glarus school board

Age: 36

City/town of residence: New Glarus

Family: Husband, Josh; three daughters, a 2-two-year-old, a kindergartner, and a second-grader.

Education: Bachelor's Degree, Art Education and French, UW-Madison

Occupation: Mom, swim coach, former teacher

Previous elected positions held: I have not held an elected position, but I am excited for the challenge of being on the school board. As a teacher, I served on the Lake Geneva Schools Strategic Planning Committee which worked closely with the school board. I also helped the Lake Geneva school board to plan and implement a major structural addition to Badger High School.

What are the top issues facing this district/municipality and how would you work to resolve them?

I am proud to send my daughters to New Glarus schools. My husband and I have been impressed with the positive attitude and atmosphere of the schools. Our district has scored well on the state report card and has received many accolades, including being named one of the top 1,000 school districts in the nation according to Newsweek and the Daily Beast. In my opinion we have high performing schools because we have hard-working students, dedicated parents, and high quality educators.

The biggest issue our district faces is trying to find balance within a tight budget. If elected, I would work hard to make sure we are making wise decisions about how we spend our money. In order to maintain our tradition of excellence, we must make it a priority to retain top-notch teachers in our district and make sure we remain attractive to the best potential professionals. In my experience as a student and as an educator, I believe there are two types of teachers. There are teachers who view teaching as a job, and then there are teachers who view teaching as a mission. These teachers are passionate about their work. They mentor, stimulate, engage and most importantly connect with their students. A district can have beautiful facilities and the newest technology, but you need good educators to have successful schools.

What are other key issues facing the district/municipality, and how would you work to resolve them?

One of my priorities would be to make sure the district is staying on target with the goal of helping "students develop good character and become critical thinkers." I would love to serve on the curriculum committee to make sure we are enhancing our academic rigor with creativity and higher order thinking skills. Additionally, I have been impressed with PBIS and I hope that the district will continue to implement character-building in our schools.

I would also like to see more two-way communication between the schools and the parents and students. I think the administrators are making good efforts toward sharing what is happening in the schools with the website, blog and Facebook. I would propose in addition to the surveys that we find different ways to get more feedback from the parents and students. In an effort to offer representation to the many voices of the community, perhaps we could offer parents and teachers some informal listening sessions with members the school board. I also think it would be interesting to have a student representative at the board meetings to get different perspectives and make sure we focus on what is most important - students.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

As a parent I clearly have a vested interest in our schools. What makes me unique and a potential asset to our school board is that I have always been passionate about education. From the time I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. I followed that dream and graduated from UW-Madison with double major in Art Education and French. While I was in college I had an opportunity to teach English in France, an experience that gave me perspective into different ways of learning. I have taught middle school and high school art in both public and private schools. In addition to teaching, I coached a high school art club, was the varsity swim coach and helped coach junior varsity soccer. Currently, I stay at home with my children and I am a coach for the YMCA Gator swim team. I am very interested in how schools run, how people learn, and I am enthusiastic about how to find creative ways to expand young minds. I am hoping to use my experiences as a student, teacher, coach, and parent to help lead our school district and to be a strong advocate for all students.

I encourage everyone in the district to vote on April 7. Whether you have children or not, all residents benefit from high-performing schools. Strong schools directly affect our property values and give our community a sense of pride.

As a member of the school board I will work hard to collaborate with our superintendent and educators to continue to demand excellence in education for all students in our schools. If elected I will respect and encourage the involvement and opinions of parents, students, and the community. I would be honored to have your support and ask you to please vote Kari Morrison for school board.