School board candidate Susan Cunningham in her own words
Candidate is dedicated to the progress of students
The Vail Daily is running Q&As with the 11 candidates running for five seats on the Eagle County Schools Board of Education. The questionnaires will run in the order that the candidates appear on the ballot. All school directors are voted on at-large in the county election, meaning eligible electors of the school district vote for one candidate from each director district. Ballots will be mailed out Oct. 8.
Name: Susan Cunningham
Occupation: CEO, SGLC Consulting Inc.
Place of residence: Edwards
Length of residence in Eagle County: Five years
Director District: District G (Avon Elementary, Brush Creek Elementary, Eagle Valley Elementary, Edwards Elementary, Homestake Peak School, Berry Creek Middle School, Battle Mountain High School and Eagle Valley High School)
Have you served on any other boards/commissions/councils in Eagle County or otherwise? No.
Tell us about your volunteer experiences, involvement in education and service to the community in which you live. How will these experiences enable you to bring value to the board?
- Cherry Creek School District
- Proctor of AP/IB exams
- Booster parent for International Baccalaureate including exam prep, interviewing skill prep, oral exam prep, research camp, college research and application process, resume writing, fundraising
- Booster parent for varsity lacrosse and varsity swim
- Eagle County/Vail Mountain School: parent volunteer
These experiences provided me with a wide spectrum of curriculum knowledge, student engagement and working with school faculty, staff and administration to support the success of students.
What has been your interaction thus far with Eagle County Schools? Ongoing attendance of school board meetings and county commissioner meetings, met with Superintendent Philip Qualman, continual communication with the district executive assistant, Missy Gerard, as well as ongoing communication with taxpayers, parents and students.
What is the value that you will bring to the school board? I am dedicated to the progress of students. I want to empower parents, students and teachers to use their voice focusing on the improvement of curriculum and academic success. I have experience in the private, public school sector and various curriculum in International Baccalaureate, AP, Dual Enrollment and Common Core. This, coupled with the fact I have the time and passion to commit to what it takes to make positive changes in education for our kids, will bring extreme value to our board.
Why do you want to serve on the school board? I care about the students of Eagle County and their success. Third grade reading and eighth grade math are major mile markers in the journey of learning. Eagle County is deficient in these areas. Based on 2019 CMAS scores, 62.8% of third graders are not proficient in reading and 66.7% of eighth graders are not proficient in math. We need to improve students’ proficiency and fix this crisis.
What has the current school board done well? And what could it have done better? The only way to judge the current council accomplishments is by looking at the results of what has been achieved. We are currently in a crisis situation, so I don’t know any other way you can determine their success.The current council could have better prepared for the reopening this fall to address the learning gaps that occurred when students weren’t in school.
If elected, what’s the main thing you’d like to see the school board accomplish throughout your term? Improvement of proficiency in reading, writing and arithmetic.
Over the past few years, Eagle County Schools has prioritized equity practices in its classrooms. Do you feel that the district is equally serving the needs of all students? What could it do better to address any achievement gaps between students? No [the district isn’t equally serving the needs of all students].
First, recognize where every student is strong and/or behind. Next, build programs to encourage the continued growth of excelling students and programs to improve the proficiencies of struggling students. Promote parental involvement by first giving them a public platform to voice concerns that centers on feedback. Encourage parent engagement in curriculum objectives, mentoring/tutoring programs.
What advancements can be made to address staffing challenges within the school district? Provide excellent compensation for teachers who provide excellent outcomes.
What specific improvements would you like to see made in the area of student learning/curriculum? Concentrate on the crisis at hand by improving third grade reading proficiency and eighth grade math proficiency. Kindergarten through third grade students learn to read, after third grade students read to learn. Eighth grade math skills are necessary for success in high school math and everyday experiences. Whether learning algebra or working a cash register, students need to be proficient in eighth grade math.