Meredith McIlmoyle

Meredith McIlmoyle and Celese Stevens are candidates for Anacortes School District Board of Directors, Position 1, in the general election Nov. 2.

School Board members are elected to four-year terms.

Per state law, the members are eligible for compensation for attending meetings, though historically all members (including current members) have waived that compensation, according to the district.

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Name: Meredith McIlmoyle

Occupation: Executive Director, Anacortes Arts Festival

Community involvement: ASD Volunteer, Mt. Erie PTA, Food to Go, Anacortes Schools Foundation, Whatcom County Amateur Hockey Association Board, Anacortes Rotary, Anacortes Parks Foundation, The Landing: a healing place for kids, Relay for Life of Anacortes, Summit Assistance Dogs.

Education: B.A., Journalism, Arizona State University; Certificate in Volunteer Management, Arizona State University

Why are you running for the Anacortes School Board?

After years of volunteering in the classroom and for our School District, I am in an excellent position to be a productive member of the Anacortes School Board. ASD is filled with smart, caring and forward-thinking educators and staff. I want to support them in identifying where we can do better as a District and in finding the tools for them to be successful in their challenging jobs.

What do you believe qualifies you for this position?

Throughout my life, I have served in leadership roles for dozens of organizations. Now, in my current professional job with the Anacortes Arts Festival, I report to a Board of Directors and collaborate with them every day. I also serve on the Executive Board for the Whatcom Amateur Hockey Association, which gives me a different perspective to board governance.

As a long-time volunteer for the Anacortes School District, I’ve had the opportunity to see from inside the classroom what challenges face our teachers and staff. I’ve stepped up year-after-year, when called upon, to do everything I can to support students, teachers and staff.

What do you see as the biggest obstacle facing the School District right now?

Navigating the current political climate that has reached into our District, appears to be distracting us from the conversations that we should be having about our students’ education. As a community and as a School District, we will have to find ways to manage and meet parent concerns and not let it distract us from the most important job of educating and caring for our students.

What are some new policies or changes you want to bring to the district?

I am looking forward to the possibility of being a part of the next Strategic Plan. I feel like that is one of the most impactful roles that a School Board member plays. Through that Strategic Plan, I hope to see: an expansion of our robust curriculum to more students; continued focus on the K-3 literacy & math programs to make sure all students are meeting standards; strong implementation of the State’s new literacy screening tools for dyslexia; a focus on cultural competency (and support for teachers in this regard); and continued efforts to ensure all students and staff feel safe and supported when they are in our buildings.

What is the School District doing right?

The School District is doing so many things right! First and foremost, I love that they are constantly looking at places they can do better. Evaluating curriculum and policies for their effectiveness is so important and I appreciate that the District is willing to admit when there are areas that they can improve upon.

There are some great things happening in the District right now, including: establishing new committees to offer community input on curriculum changes and policies; Challenge Program testing for all students; and a push to offer more clubs, sports and extra-curricular programs in an effort to help all students find their place. These are examples of the work that our Administration is taking on in their effort to do better for all of our students.

What is your opinion on the equity work the School District is undertaking?

Equity should not be isolated as its own standard and instead, should be found in all places in our District. I appreciate that we’ve identified that our District needs to do better for some students and staff. And, I believe we are on the right track to making improvements in these areas. I also know that this is a conversation that makes some people uncomfortable. We need to remember that we are not immune to the world outside of Anacortes and there are people right here in our own community, including students, who need us to show up in ways that we are not right now. When you simply ask: what can we do to make sure all students are successful? It seems that we should have unifying answers.

What is your opinion on mask requirements in schools?

I believe that masks work together with the other protocols to make our schools as safe as they can be. With that said, I am not an expert in masking during a pandemic and I trust that our State has referred to those experts to set this policy for our schools. At this time, it is a law that our students and staff be masked at school and therefore, there is no question whether it should be followed or not. We have a responsibility to follow the law and to do the best we can for all of our students.

What do you think the district needs to do to help students catch up on education they may have missed during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I think the District is well on-track for handling this lost learning. The District acknowledged this gap before summer break. They worked with community organizations to raise the money to offer summer school to more students than ever. There are other programs that will continue to be funded, such as tutoring, that will help the students, who need it the most.

There has also been incredible community support for mental health programs for our students. For some of the students, this will be their biggest hurdle to overcome and the District has strategies to help these kids.

I’ve noticed, with my own children, that the teachers also clearly understand the challenges of this year. They are doing an amazing job of balancing the complete re-engagement into school from a social and emotional perspective and working to get to academics as quickly and intensely as they can.

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