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2018 Stillwater School Board – Tina Riehle

2018 Stillwater School Board – Tina Riehle

The St. Croix Valley Gifted family-friendly candidate event is Sunday, 9/30 at Teddy Bear Park. Please check the event page for scheduling info, plus links to other candidates’ responses and voter registration support.

1) School Board goals adopted 8 Feb 2018 begin with these statements:

The Stillwater Area Public Schools’ Board of Education ensures outstanding learning opportunities for the social, emotional and academic growth of every student in our school district through authentic partnerships and meaningful communication with our community, parents and students. Every decision is made with a commitment to equity for all students and for future generations impacted by our actions.

What do these statements mean to you as a candidate for school board? What do these statements look like when board members put them into action?

TR: The mission statement represents my platform. Stillwater schools have amazing opportunities available for our students. When you create a positive school climate and partner with the community it represents through honesty and transparency while utilizing mentorship and volunteer opportunities the outcome will be students maximizing their potential; not only graduating students but preparing them for future success in life. 


2) Community-building and outreach to the communities this school district serves are an ongoing priority among local voters. In the recent two years since the last board election cycle, Stillwater Area Public Schools leadership has undertaken several initiatives (focus groups, advisory teams, communication efforts, new events, etc.) aimed at community engagement, matters of transparency, student mental health supports, understanding community priorities, developing partnerships with area business leaders, etc. In what ways do you believe these efforts have been effective? In what respects does the school district have room to grow and/or adjust course?

TR: I strongly advocate for continued growth in the area of community engagement. I have been to these trainings that were provided to the board. The information gathered by community surveys and engagement is an invaluable tool. I would like to see this information thoughtfully considered as the district proceeds with decision making ahead. We can always do better, and always seek to improve.


3) Since 2013 (Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.11), school districts must develop a World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) Plan and Annual Report for each school year. For Minnesota to remain competitive, we must have students who are college and career ready, and who are poised to lead the state’s workforce. Per MDE, Minnesota’s overall population is aging and seventy percent (70%) of jobs will require more than a high school diploma by 2018. School boards have responsibility to establish the advisory committee of community members that develops their district’s WBWF plan and related goals.

In your opinion, what skills are important for students to build across their K-12 education as preparation for the 21st Century society and workplace?

TR: I would like to see students learn grit, perseverance and accountability. Also, in order to have a student population of innovative thinkers, we need to have an environment that supports that. Creativity and passions need to be encouraged and supported. Students need exposure to different career opportunities via memberships/apprenticeships and allowed to discover if there is an interest or even a disinterest in a field. Teachers need autonomy in their classrooms to be able to provide a climate that encourages students to maximize their abilities. I attended all board World’s Best Workforce training.


4) Conversations about equity and K-12 education are happening across the country. Minnesota’s federally approved ESSA Plan includes a list of 10 Equity Commitments. Access to services (counseling, student advocates, ELL and GT services, reading and math supports, etc.) and classroom supports receive attention through an equity lens. St. Croix Valley communities and district schools are seeing rapid growth in cultural, socio-economic and linguistic diversity.

What importance does equity have in the day-to-day classroom experiences of educators and students across the Stillwater school district (primary and secondary)? What should voting residents of this school district understand about the role equity plays in the well-being of our communities and in helping students develop the skills you identified in question three?

TR: I would hope that our district does not create inequities. Research shows smaller classroom and building size promotes a positive school climate. A positive school climate shows a decrease in racism, bullying, the achievement gap, absenteeism, disengaged students, teacher burnout, substance abuse, and cultural and socioeconomic differences; while showing an increase in academic achievement, motivation to learn, psychological well-being, socioeconomic status on academic success, and mitigates self-criticism.


5) Advocacy on behalf of Stillwater School District is among school board duties. Board members are charged with using ongoing, two-way communications to build trust and support among community, board, superintendent, staff, and students. They also are responsible for addressing issues that affect education on local, state, and national levels. The district’s 2018 Legislative Platform includes two named advocacy priorities concerning boosts in State funding toward the special education cross-subsidy and pensions that impact the General Fund. How have past experiences prepared you to fulfill these assorted advocacy duties as a school board member?

TR: I feel it is very important to be a good listener, especially to our constituents. It is also important to have good understanding. I have reached out to current legislators seeking a better understanding of the 8 million dollar cross subsidy Stillwater faces. Since the school board is a non-partisan position, it is very important to be able to work with any legislator in order to advocate for necessary funding.


6) During the 2017-2018 academic year, this MCGT chapter conducted a Community Feedback Initiative to gather local input about access and availability of GT supports at St. Croix Valley area schools. Local sentiment can be summarized in this statement from page one of the resulting report:

Broadly speaking, local access to GT services in K-12 is unpredictable and inconsistent; identification offers no promise of supports, services, or programs.

The feedback we collected shows agreement around core concerns: student access to and continuity of GT services and supports (academic and socio-emotional learning) across K-12; whether promises about the type(s) of GT services to be delivered are kept or broken; and whether instruction strategies and decisions (procedures, personalized learning, acceleration, etc.) utilize evidence-based practices and reflect deep understanding of common GT attributes vs. being rooted in stereotype.

Where do GT learners fit within district priorities and accountability (under Minnesota’s ESSA plan) to demonstrate year-to-year growth and to provide personalized learning for all students in elementary and secondary classrooms?

TR: In my opinion, gifted students are greatly underserved in our district. There are at least six different areas GT learners can fit into. Too often gifted students are labeled as troublemakers and do not receive the tools they need to be successful and tap into their full potential. These are the students that slip through the cracks. Stillwater schools have a high ratio of boy to girl placement in this program. I’m not sure the placement test is an accurate portrayal of identification. I would like more discretion placed on parent and teacher collaboration with testing being a small contribution to identifying.


7) School Board Members must balance the work of being both listener and ambassador. What would you tell prospective families and/or voting community members who don’t have students currently enrolled about Stillwater Area Public Schools?

TR: As I have engaged with the community during my campaign, I am at the understanding that the community fully supports the education of the children in our community. As long as District Administration and School Board members are of a high integrity and promote truthfulness, transparency, and fiscal responsibility, I do not believe our children will be at risk of a lack of financial support. I also understand there is a need and desire from the retired members of our community to be able to partner with our schools as mentors and volunteers. Both young and old benefit from such fulfilling relationships.


8) Why should voters consider you in particular as they choose among candidates for Stillwater Area Public Schools’ open board seats?

 TR: I am the only board candidate among the candidates running for the first time who has been diligently engaged for the past three years attending all school board business meetings, workshops, retreats, field trips, community engagement training, and the World’s Best Workforce training. I have been invested and I have sought out the voice of the community. I am a leader and a collaborator. I have experience in marketing, finance, sales, and customer service. I am curious, motivated, and driven. I have children that are enrolled and have experienced Stillwater schools. I believe in the power of community, camaraderie, and strong successful schools.