Why Run For School Board Chair?

I had a good friend text me when I started my campaign and ask me, "What are you doing?" I replied back, "I'm running for School Board Chair." He replied, "Are you crazy?" I replied, "Probably."

My friend realizes that if I win, I have to resign my position as an Assistant Director at Orange Technical College in order to become a member of the School Board, which means I'll take a 50% pay cut and scramble my life in order to find another job to make up for the lost wages. A person cannot be on the School Board and work for the School Board at the same time.

So, I probably am a little crazy...I am also probably a little too passionate about the power of education to change lives. I believe this to such an extent that I'll wager my entire career and dream job on the opportunity to fight for what I believe needs to happen in education. I could certainly sit back and coast, living a life of ease while leaving the fight for others who may not have the same experiences, knowledge, or relationships that are necessary to change a system headed in the wrong direction. But I have heard such a call, and I'm the type of person that's going to run to the battle.

If there was ever an article that clearly defined why I am running for the School Board Chair position, the article that I link to below is that article. Education can be done differently. The people holding leadership positions at the top truly can make a difference, but they have to be willing to take risks...and willing to put students ahead of their own careers. The person at the top should be the one who cares the most, knows the most, and is willing to risk the most. There may be a number of people not running for School Board Chair that know more than I do about education, but of those running for this position, I think I could make a good argument for the value of the knowledge I've gained during my 25 years in education. I will put my level of "Caring" up against anyone in our school district. I will also put my "Willingness to Risk" up against anyone in our School District. If we are going to affect positive change in our School District, it is going to take an immense amount of knowledge, caring, and risk.

I had another person ask me earlier in my campaign how a School Board Chair can actually inspire students. One of my campaign and life priorities is to inspire change rather than simply mandating change. I believe we inspire change by our compassion, our courage, our willingness to sacrifice, our generosity, our integrity, our humility, our hard work, our service, our pursuit of excellence, our example...we inspire others by the way we live...we inspire others by the way we love. In a healthy system, inspiration starts at the top.

Educators need to be experts of inspiration in order to effectively reach and teach their students. I believe in the power of inspiration because I know many great inspirational educators throughout our school district. These educators inspire me and help me believe in what is possible when it comes to affecting and changing student lives for the better. I say, "Thank you!", to all the great educators out there that have given me this faith in what is possible.

As for me, I've often found myself wondering why I couldn't have just kept my mouth shut and became a principal as many of my friends have done. I still have that goal for my future, but another thought enters my mind that tells me that that was not the road I was to travel, at least not at this time. There was another plan for my life, a different kind of plan, something I have been uniquely prepared for, and I need to trust it and follow it even if I don't see the way or completely understand where it could be leading me.

I am called to help change a bad system so that those called to lead and teach can do so with minimal hindrances from the outside, and maximum support from the inside. I'm called to help create a system that I would like to work for...a system I would love to lead and teach under. This calling may not pay very well in the here and now, but if I can help create such a system, that will be all the reward I need.

Please click the link below and read the article to fully understand what I believe needs to happen in education. Please share this with your friends. Education can be done differently, and it can start at the District level. We cannot afford to hope, pray, and wait for the state to get things right. We have to forget about pointing the finger at the state and start building consensus here in our own school district about what a high quality school experience can be for all of our students and teachers. Here are a few quotes from the article by Maureen Downey that offers a taste of something different...something better.

Her new district provides quite a contrast. At the school’s orientation before classes began in the fall, her superintendent spoke about the importance of human relationships, above all else. Not test scores. Not real estate values tied to test scores. No, he spoke compassionately about how everything follows from developing and fostering productive relationships within the district.


The emphasis on relationships was the central driving force in her return to teaching and in her happiness with this new position. The school is not perfect, of course. She has quibbles with some of the policies, for instance. But she loves the fact she has tons of latitude in what to teach, and how to teach it. And she loves her students and the idea that her main task is to ground her instruction in the relationships she develops with them.


Many of the kids come from low-income households, are immigrants, have personal challenges, and, in general, represent the demographic groups whose test scores often reflect poorly on a faculty and administration. But here was the superintendent telling the faculty to tune out the noise about test scores and focus on making the school feel positive to kids, teachers, counselors, principals, and I’m sure the cafeteria staff, grounds crew, and custodians as well.

I often hear administrators lack the will or fortitude to buck the assessment movement and its grounding in business-style accountability measures that reduce complex actions to single numbers. There’s at least one district in Georgia, however, where the superintendent has rejected the premises behind that assumption and has insisted good teaching begins with forming relationships with kids.

I wish there were a whole lot more school systems with leadership of this sort. I suspect most teachers would agree with me, and that kids would buy into education much more if such alienating barriers to the building of relationships were removed.

( Excerpts from an article by Maureen Downey...link below)

Here's the link:

What if schools focused on improving relationships rather than test scores?


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Political advertisement paid for and approved by Matthew J. Fitzpatrick, Non-Partisan, for Orange County School Board Chair

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