EAST WENATCHEE — Cindy Wright, who has served on the Eastmont School Board since 2007, is facing challenger Sasha Sleiman in her re-election bid this year.
The District 1 spot, which encompasses the northern portion of the district, is one of three school board seats up for election this year.
The general election is Nov. 5. The mail-in ballots are expected to be in voters’ hands by Oct. 18.
Sleiman, who grew up in the Valley and served two terms on the state Higher Education Coordinating Board, threw her hat in the ring this spring.
“I am passionate about ensuring every child has access to a quality education in our Valley,” she said. “I was fortunate to have an incredible K-12 experience here in Wenatchee. I had teachers who cared about my success and ensured I was well prepared, not just for the next school year but the next chapter of my life.”
Wright, 47, who works in the banking industry, had been an active school volunteer before being appointed to the board in early 2007 to complete an unexpired term. She ran unopposed that fall, a trend that continued in 2011. She faced a challenge for the job in 2015 from attorney John Brangwin, but won with 64.7 percent of the vote.
“My ability to be a critical thinker, and not be afraid to ask questions helps me to listen to the concerns of my constituents and be a better leader,” she said.
The Wenatchee World asked the candidates to respond to questions on issues that have been topics of discussion during the past year. Their responses follow.
Wenatchee World: What do you see as the role of technology in education?
Sasha Sleiman: It is imperative that students are learning how to use technology responsibly and effectively prior to entering the workforce. At the same time, teachers are invaluable and in-person learning is critical, especially for younger learners. I see technology as an important supplement, but not a replacement, for the in-person and high-quality teaching that’s happening in our schools. I also see technology as a solution: in small and rural districts, technology can be used to offer courses even if they are too small to have the teachers to lead these courses in person, by using video conferencing and online platforms. Teachers can use advances in technology to help their students understand their lessons from new and different perspectives and to differentiate lessons for the needs of various learners. Students can benefit from technology that adapts to their academic levels and needs and introduces them to a world outside of their local community. I believe it is important to teach students how to responsibly use technology to communicate and pursue additional learning opportunities.
Cindy Wright: Technology in the classroom now means that learning is boundless. We now have tablets in our district classrooms. These tools enable our teachers to insure critical engagement in the classroom and makes learning easier and efficient. I believe we would be doing a disservice to our students if we did not prepare them for the experiences they will see after graduation. Technology helps students to become critical thinkers, troubleshooters and successful. Technology can and is being utilized to improve teaching and learning.
WW: What do you think is more important and why — improving graduation rates or school security? Improving facilities or test scores?
Sleiman: This question presents a false dichotomy because these topics are all linked. You cannot improve graduation rates if your schools are not safe and secure because students will have trouble feeling comfortable enough to learn. Well-maintained facilities are important so that facilities do not detract from the learning environment and make it hard for teachers to teach and students to learn and consequently, improve test scores. School board members, parents, teachers, staff, administrators should never be in a position to choose between these topics as they all go hand in hand. There are a lot of tough financial decisions school board members and superintendents need to make, especially during a budget crisis, but these four examples should not be pitted against each other and none of these important issues should be sacrificed. All are important for our students.
Wright: Graduation rate and security is a dead tie. Our students need a safe environment to learn, to get them to graduation. I am very proud that our district has an 83% graduation rate. Of course we would like to get that to 100%. The dedication of our administrators and teachers help to insure that both a safe environment and a positive learning climate are equally important. I believe that having safe facilities is more important than test scores. At Eastmont, our teachers don’t teach to test, they teach to learn. Having a great place to learn will assist with improving test scores.