Board of Education candidate Anne Menaldo details her reasons for seeking Post 3

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My name is Anne Menaldo and I want to thank Mr. Neil Sullivan for the opportunity to respond to his concerns.

Since moving here from California, I was immediately drawn to our Fayette County schools, both personally and professionally. Half of my grandchildren have attended these schools for over 12 years, and several other relatives have joined them in years following. This makes interest in a good educational foundation, in its many facets, very personal to me.

I recently retired from over 47 years of teaching in public schools. Since moving here, I have enjoyed the tutoring of many students privately, as well as receiving the training given by the Fayette County District Office to work as a substitute teacher in our Fayette County schools.

I did this for three reasons: (1) I want to be a help for fellow teachers in those moments of unplanned, emergency absences, (2) I also enjoy renewing the joy of working with students in the classroom setting, and finally, (3) I wanted to get a feel for the different schools in my community.

I am running for school board to safeguard the work of many who have passed before us and have set the foundations of what Fayette County can rightly boast of today: strong, academic performance, a myriad of quality programs that offer educational opportunities to challenge students beyond the classroom, and a group of dedicated teachers and support staff that are passionate about preparing the students in their care for success.

From personal past experience, I can testify how quickly these positive areas can be lost and I don’t want to see that happening here. When I speak with parents, none disagree with the excellent reputation our Fayette County schools are known for; in fact, many moved into this area because of our schools.

However, I’ve also heard from parents who have had problems with their children in our schools, and these parents feel that they were powerless to have their voices heard or their desires for their children’s programs met.

Several, though not all, have mentioned the special education programs in particular, while others discussed a problem with bullying, but all felt that they were not valued or heard.

I feel that this should be an area of focus for a school board. Parents, in particular, should always play the major role in decisions regarding their child’s education.

Secondly, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with students from time to time about their own school spirit. While many seem to be busily involved in the many routines around them, there is always the quieter, unmotivated few who take license with the “Sub” to state that they hate school, that the world doesn’t make sense and they feel no one listens. My heart breaks for these students especially.

Schools need to be a positive outlet for encouraging participation and dialogue. Our school counselors have hundreds of students assigned to each of them, which makes it almost impossible to address all their needs. So, what can we do?

I had the opportunity to work with a group that was promoting a character education program in schools while in California, and the person who founded this program has now successfully been able to initiate a School Chaplaincy Program in several (1000+) schools. Unfortunately, I left California before being able to play a part in promoting this idea in my school, but recently, I had the privilege of hearing our own Senator Marty Harbin speak about his support for this program in Georgia schools!

Chaplains have played a part in all government institutions, from our country’s founding. We have Chaplains in our government branches, our police departments, fire departments, prisons, hospitals, military branches, etc. Why are they not part of our schools?

They would be a definite, positive addition to the school atmosphere. They are not in their positions to proselytize, but as an encouraging support to those around them, building relationships, promoting goodwill and offering friendly accessibility to those needing to talk.

I would like our Board to explore this idea more closely for our schools. I feel it would have a positive impact for everyone in the school, by providing emotional support, guidance and a stronger sense of community.

Finally, after speaking with teachers casually, (usually while we ate a quick sandwich and supervised the lunchroom), I began to sense that staff morale was suffering.

A common theme has been the feeling that teachers are not feeling appreciated or valued. They have also mentioned decisions being made in their curriculum or teaching without having a voice in what was decided. Several have also been intimidated in speaking up due to losing so many of their colleagues in the recent staff reductions.

Although the Board stated that a large percentage of teachers had “retired,” it was mentioned by teachers that several friends had decided to take early retirement because of this low morale.

I see this and the larger class sizes because of this, as a danger to a positive learning environment for our students. At the very least, teachers should have a representative voice to the Board so that their concerns are heard. Sadly, the majority don’t appear to feel that they have that voice now.

In summary, the stakeholders we represent, parents, students, teachers and staff, should all feel valued, respected and heard. This is something I hope to improve.

In addition to enhancing community input, I am concerned with certain current literary choices in our middle school and high school classes.

Anne Menaldo

Candidate for Fayette County School Board, Post 3

[Ms. Ranaldo is competing against incumbent Scott Hollowell for the Republican nomination to the Board of Education race.]

4 COMMENTS

  1. I appreciate both Board candidates taking the time to outline their thoughts and priorities if elected, as well as stepping up to represent us in this important role.

    However, neither one touched on one of the most important issues for voters – school funding and the recent round of layoffs. From reading Neil Sullivan’s informative articles here, there is a need for transparency and leadership to review administrative expenses and to make sure teachers and students have the right resources to continue to excel.

  2. Thank you Ms. Menaldo for introducing yourself and sharing what moved you to run for school board. Sorry, you won’t have my vote. The proposed Georgia Senate Bill 379 authorizes public school systems to “employ or accept as a volunteer a school chaplain to provide support, services, and programs for students…a school chaplain employed or accepted as a volunteer under this subsection is not required to be a certificated professional personnel.” Fayette County public schools do not need anyone who is not certified and trained as a school counselor giving counsel to our children at school. The school board sets policies, oversees finances and keeps student achievement a top priority. You may want to encourage teachers who don’t feel appreciated or valued to find another employer. It is a privilege to work for Fayette County public schools. We have the best and brightest students around.

  3. I’m sure all of our readers will join me in advocating for Ms. Menaldo’s candidacy with the caveat that all the chaplains she recruits to provide succor to our scholars be Islamic clerics. Who needs the First Amendment?

    You really can’t make this stuff up.