Editor’s note: This is one in a series of question and answer articles about local candidates running for office. The Northern Virginia Daily asked candidates for the Shenandoah County School Board to answer three questions. Unedited responses are below.
Cyndy Walsh is seeking re-election to the District 3 School Board seat.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Cyndy Walsh. I live in Edinburg with my husband Dan and our three daughters. All of the girls attend the Central campus schools and we'll have one in each of the schools there for the next several years! The whole family participates in activities throughout the county. A few examples - the girls swim in the summer league and I volunteer with the Edinburg Ducks swim team; the girls play soccer and Dan serves on the soccer league board and coaches a team. We are all community-minded and believe in supporting causes that help to improve the community in which we live.
Why are you running for School Board?
When the girls were younger, I first served as a classroom volunteer and then as the President of the PTO at WW Robinson. I was able to see first-hand some of the challenges the teachers and administrators face on a daily basis - teachers using closets for classrooms, administrators using hallways for storage, a very crowded and loud cafeteria with the first lunch beginning at 10:30 in the morning, etc. As a classroom volunteer, I also saw the diversity of the students within the classroom and the challenges the teachers face in working with children from many different backgrounds and family situations. SCPS has made some great strides during my first term - including all of our schools being accredited - but there is more to be done. I plan to continue to focus on providing the best possible education for all students in Shenandoah County. One of the most important ways to provide that excellent education is to retain our highly qualified teachers and staff and I am always looking for ways to make that a priority. Another concern I have is the condition of our current facilities. Are they being maintained properly? Do they provide the appropriate spaces for today's learning? There is no auditorium in all of Shenandoah County - this is not just an issue for our students in the performing arts but also for the community who attend and support these programs. Are our facilities adequate for our students who will be competing with students from other school divisions for jobs, college admission and anything else they wish to pursue in the future?
What is the biggest problem facing the School Board and how would you solve it?
There are always challenges to address. One is behavior and discipline in schools. Many of our students have come from homes where they have experienced trauma or are living in poverty or other adverse conditions. Children who come to school exhausted, hungry, dirty, or scared are not always ready to do their best learning. We are focusing on the whole student and addressing their social and emotional needs while providing them with a high quality education. There is no easy solution - disruptive students make it difficult for other students to learn. But, are we doing our jobs if we are simply removing the disruptive student? There has to be a balance of discipline and meeting that student's other needs. And, that can be different for every student so one size fits all does not work. Teams of administrators, teachers and staff are working together to come up with plans that work for each student. The school board has recently added specialists to help with ensuring that each student gets the supports he or she needs. We also have added the Alternative Suspension Center (housed at Triplett) which we are expanding upon this year. Relationships matter in discipline as they do in learning so retaining experienced teachers and staff is also important in addressing behavior and discipline in the schools.