Midtown Spotlight: Wake County School Board Member Christine Kushner
By Tara Robbins, Executive Director
Earlier this week I sat down to chat with our local school board member, Christine Kushner at Panera in North Hills. What amazed me from the very outset was that I sent an email introducing myself and requesting a short interview, Monday late afternoon and received a response within an hour. This may not sound that amazing but the school board is in the middle of magnet registration AND a contentious reassignment, so… I felt honored.
Christine was meeting with a North Hills parent at the popular coffee shop and was happy to chat with me afterwards, serendipity. Armed with our caffeine we quickly got going … she said that she knew of the good things we were doing in the community and was sorry she hadn’t until now had a chance to sit down with us. She was unaware of our MRA Scholarship being developed for Sanderson, so I felt proud I could share that with her!
She was enthusiastic as she told us the great things happening to truly prepare our kids for the future. For example that Carroll Middle School is participating in a pilot program that allows students to show mastery of skills and concepts during presentations rather than relying solely on testing. This method builds confidence, teaches the ‘lost art of verbal persuasion’ and is a Godsend for those of us who just don’t test well.
I also learned that several magnet schools are diving into language immersion programs like Mandarin Chinese and Spanish at (Effie) Green Magnet Elementary School on Six Forks Road. That’s not all that’s happening at Green ~ their leadership program is based on the globally re-known principals espoused in Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”. (Where was this program when I was in elementary school?)
As we meandered thru the different types of school experiences and what futures hold for the vast spectrum of the 160,000 students in wake county – we arrived at an agreement that skills and trades are a big part of the picture. After all, jobs in plumbing, electrical, automotive repair, machine cast-dye, etc.… can’t really be outsourced. Both acknowledging that not every child is destined for a 4-year college experience, she was excited to share the different trades offerings in Wake. For example automotive, nursing, cosmetology, video game programming, technical trades and welding are all offered, and a strong partnership exists between Wake Tech and the WCPSS to give students with interests in these areas, a ‘next step’ after graduation.
The scattering of new learning and testing programs all connect back to the Community-driven Strategic Plan that Christine named as the achievement she was, most proud to have been part of. The heart of it lies in the ‘4 C’s’ as she calls it. That Wake County will graduate students who are collaborative, creative, effective communicators and critical thinkers.