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NAME: Amanda Kinder
CANDIDATE FOR: Cabell County Board of Education
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: started at Marshall University, graduated with my BBA and MBA in Business Management from the University of West Georgia; completed multiple study abroad programs and earned a certificate in Economic Sustainability from ESCEM in Poiters, France.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: WAHM, community organizer, grant-writer, volunteer.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: WV Birth to Three, United Way of the River Cities, Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership (CCSAPP), Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: PTO President and LSIC (Local School Improvement Council) Chair at Explorer Academy; Sports Boosters President and non-voting LSIC member at Huntington East Middle School; volunteer at Ronald McDonald House in Huntington, WV, WV FOOD ER, and WV Mask Army; supporter of the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU.
FAMILY: Husband, Mike; daughters, Kasey and Sophia
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I want to be a voice for today's parents and students in Cabell County; to prioritize trauma-informed training and best practices; to modernize how we create safe and welcoming school cultures and deter bullying; and to determinedly advocate for equal opportunities and spending throughout our county's 25 K12 schools.
1. What should your role be as a member of the Board of Education?
Board members a responsibility to the approx 12,100 students, their families, their teachers, the service personnel in the county, and to the community at large. That includes providing a safe environment to learn and work, providing the necessary training and resources, and producing high quality graduates that are employable or ready for secondary training or college.
2. How would you address the dropout issue?
We have to recognize how the opioid epidemic and underlying socioeconomic disparities and prejudices are contributing to our students' lives. Schools cannot be society's answer for every single problem but we must acknowledge how they affect and create challenges within the school system before we can hope to adequately address them.
3. How would you encourage more parental involvement?
All schools should be live-streaming their PTO/PTA/LSIC etc. meetings. We need to include ALL families, including students in Special Education and kinship, foster, or adoptive care. I would urge the county to use LSIC meetings for open and honest dialogue about each school’s needs and to move parent commentary at county meetings to the beginning of their agenda.
4. How would you increase the rigor of curriculum to benefit students?
Trust teachers. We need to let our teachers do their jobs and abandon the notion that success is only measured by standardized tests. Within the county, we can focus on expanding opportunities for technical training and community partnerships for job placement, and providing teachers with the time and resources they need.
5. What would you do to improve student achievement?
Focus on providing in-depth trauma training to all county personnel; providing a safe and welcoming school culture including green/blue spaces on campuses; and fighting for the necessary funding to continue providing free meals to all students. "Maslow before Bloom". We also need to include students in the conversation and incentivize them in ways that appeal to them.
6. What do you think schools should be doing about drug prevention?
The D.A.R.E. program was counterproductive: sparking curiosity and leading to increased rates of drug usage. Schools can be more effective in lowering usage rates by developing school cultures that acknowledge failures and setbacks are inevitable, encourage resilience and positive behaviors, teach conflict resolution, and foster meaningful relationships, rather than narrowly focusing on the dangers of alcohol and drugs.
7. Do you think schools should do more to prepare students to succeed in community college and apprenticeships, etc?
YES!. The US is currently facing a skills gap and labor shortages for mechanics, nurses, welders, etc. There are 30 million jobs that do not require a Bachelor's degree and have a median income of $55,000 or more (GUCE). Every student should be prepared for life after graduation, and the reality is that doesn't always need to be a 4 year college.
8. How would you assess the condition of Cabell County’s school facilities? What improvements, if any, do you think should be the focus in the next 10 years?
I served on the County's Comprehensive Educational Facilities Planning Steering Committee this year to tour and assess the county's schools. ZERO CONSOLIDATIONS were recommended. However, multiple schools are not ADA-compliant and/or need HVAC maintenance; both high schools need safe-school entrances; the two Huntington middle schools lack sports facilities; and the CCCTC needs extensive remodeling to accommodate more students and programs.