The mother of four children, Erica Shields has lived in Jefferson County for more than 10 years now. She has worked worked as a substitute teacher, a pediatric cancer researcher and a personal fitness health adviser.
She holds a master’s and doctorate degree in public health.
Campaign website: www.ericaforschoolboard.com
Why do you want to serve on the school board?
I was adopted at 3 and-a-half years old. My parents taught me that with hard work, dedication, and a great education I could succeed beyond my circumstances. I have taught my four children the same and have high expectations for their success. All of my children have had great teachers who have helped them achieve. I know from volunteering in some of our poorest schools, not all students have the same opportunities. Nearly 50 percent of Jeffco third –eighth graders aren’t performing at grade level. I want to change that and be sure every student has access to a great public education.
Your top three priorities if elected?
Making sure our budget is spent on programs that ensure our students re career and college ready. We must allocate resources to programs that work (like Wheat Ridge High School GT) and stop spending money on programs that don’t.
Keeping neighborhood schools open and not waste $50 million adding classrooms to move sixth graders when there are already thousands of empty seats. Invest in schools that need updating, like Stober, Peck and Swanson so they aren’t threatened with closure.
Listen to the community and make decisions that support their priorities. Significantly increasing community engagement to bring diversity and balance to the board.
What is one idea you have to improve student readiness/achievement?
When parents and the community are engaged in schools, student achievement improves. I’ll work to increase service-learning projects that inspire communities to work together. I’ve seen firsthand when students are able to help others, they pursue their passion and increase their desire to learn. Families are also more engaged when the whole community is working together.
I have had the great honor to work with many veterans and they often tell me how important their public education was in creating a passion to serve our country. Teaching students to give back helps them become engaged citizens and improves achievement.
What can be done to allow the district to keep its best and most experienced teachers at a higher rate?
Respecting teachers, recognizing those doing great work and making sure they have the resources and flexibility they need, will help Jeffco retain great teachers.
Teachers tell me they spend too much time teaching to tests and don’t have enough support and flexibility to meet students’ needs. They spend too much time entering data into computers and wish they had more time to spend planning with other teachers.
I’ve had the opportunity to participate in teacher appreciation efforts and know our teachers are grateful when we take time to recognize great work. Respect and appreciation go a long way.
Would you support another ballot measure to help the district pay for capital improvements?
Community members tell me they want our tax dollars to follow the student and that our investment in their education is paying off. They want to be confident that our tax dollars are ensuring that our children are getting the best education possible. Furthermore, the majority of tax payers don’t want to close small elementaries, leaving empty buildings they still have to pay for. They also don’t support spending $50 million to build new middle schools classrooms when there are thousands of empty seats. They want money spent effectively and responsibly. I would not support increasing taxes if the community as a whole does not.