The upcoming GCISD school board election is very important to the future of Grapevine. Julia Guzman-Henderson is a candidate for GCISD School Board, Place 1. Ms. Guzman-Henderson was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about her background and the upcoming election.
Note: Early voting is April 30-May 8 and election day is May 12. Please remember to vote.
Here is the interview:
What made you decide to run for GCISD School Board Trustee Place 1?
Very simply, I want to serve the children of this amazing district. When I graduated from Georgetown University Law Center 16 years ago, I devoted myself heart and soul to working in public education – first as an education policy associate and then as an attorney for public school employees. Once my husband and I moved our family to Grapevine in 2005, I chose to work part time and directed my energy and passion to working as a volunteer for the children of Grapevine-Colleyville, and I intend to do so as long as we are blessed to live in this community.
I’m a product of excellent public schools, and I want the same for my children and for all the children of GCISD. My husband Jason and I met as students at Clear Lake High School, located in a suburb of Houston where my parents still live in my childhood home. My public school education gave me the foundation that enabled me to get into an honors program at the University of Texas at Austin and to go on to Georgetown Law. I want to give back to public education, and help ensure other Texas children have the opportunities I had. Jason and I have been blessed in our 18 years of marriage with two very bright, lovely and sweet girls who attend Silver Lake Elementary School. I love Silver Lake and GCISD, and am honored to be able to serve this district.
What makes you the best candidate for the position?
I offer a perspective and expertise that is currently not represented on the Board. I’ve worked closely with policy makers, educators, community members, parents, and children toward improving education. I understand school finance, have worked with district budgets, and have a deep knowledge of school laws and policies. I speak Spanish and French, and can navigate “Legalese” and “Eduspeak,” so I’m able to interpret complex concepts and communicate them in plain-spoken terms to a diverse audience. In other words, I have the education, business and legal expertise GCISD needs in a Board member.
I have also proven my devotion to all the children of GCISD, having volunteered over 1500 hours since my oldest daughter entered Kindergarten. I have served as a LEAD 2021 Team member, Secretary of the GCISD Council of PTAs (as well as Delegate and Nominations and Awards Committee member), a Diversity Advisory Council member, campaign volunteer for the Bond election, Destination Imagination team manager and school coordinator, Vice President of the Silver Lake Elementary PTA, room parent, ESL and Literacy volunteer, yearbook photographer, and Campus Excellence Committee member. GCISD children are my first priority.
What are the biggest issues facing GCISD today?
I believe our biggest challenges are ensuring that that our schools:
1) Meet the needs of all children. In these days of tight budgets and difficult decisions, I want to see all our children receive an excellent education, regardless of their background or abilities. I believe each child should be instructed and served in the best way for them as individuals, whether they have special needs, are classified as gifted, speak another language, or are considered “average.” And I believe we can do so in a fiscally responsible way.
2) Prepare children for the future. I want our students to be well-rounded and prepared for success in adulthood in a global society and culture. To me this means incorporating technology into the classrooms, as well as continuing to offer programs and activities that expand children’s skills beyond the core subjects. I want to see GCISD students play team sports and engage in the arts. I will fight to keep programs like these and to find the resources needed to keep them going.
3) Receive the funding they deserve. I want to see GCISD retain more of the money this community pours into the state general fund to adequately fund our students’ education. We are sending $29 million back to the state this year through recapture. I will continue to use my skills and experience as a school lawyer to advocate for GCISD with our state legislators.
How has your experience been working with current school district leadership and other community members on the districts 10-year strategic plan?
I appreciate Superintendent Robin Ryan’s leadership in engaging a cross-section of the GCISD community in the LEAD 2021 strategic plan. My children will graduate in 2020 and 2023. So the 10-year strategic plan directly impacts them, and therefore I have a vested interest in its success.
I participated in the Communications Strategy team during the LEAD 2021 strategic planning process, because I believe engaging and involving parents and the community is key to successful schools. I wanted to help ensure that the District considered cutting-edge, efficient and cost-effective strategies to communicate with parents and students of all backgrounds and circumstances. I have seen the tremendous value of parental involvement in schools and communication with educators, and I want that for all families.
I’m a big supporter of the district’s evolution toward a learner-centered model. My children are in the PAT program and the Dual Language program, and we are all involved with Destination Imagination. All these programs are learner-centered programs that build team skills, critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills, while differentiating learning for children with different abilities and strengths. I’m excited to see strategies like these spreading throughout the district via Professional Learning Communities and other tools. I only hope teachers will be given the time and resources to learn and to properly implement what they are learning.
Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you before the upcoming election?
We only have one chance to get education right for the kids that are in schools now. We can’t afford to wait another year to elect and hire people who will consider the needs of all kids and families, and who have the background and expertise to work within the district to build excellent schools together. I hope the voters share my passion for nurturing the minds of all children and vote for me on May 12th (or early April 30th-May 8th). For more information about me, please visit my website: JuliaforSchools.com