Farmington Voice is profiling the four candidates running on November 6 for two open Farmington Public Schools Board of Education seats: Pam Green, Jeff Grynaviski, Mark Przeslawski, and Zach Rich.
When Pam Green retired after 31 years in teaching and administration with Farmington Public Schools, she wanted to do three things: run for school board, rock babies in the hospital, and supervise student teachers.
And two out of three ain’t bad.
Green is one of four candidates running on November 6, and she is supervising teachers through Eastern Michigan University. She learned that volunteering in a hospital nursery requires a special certification and decided against pursuing it. But the two goals she has achieved align with her passion: education.
“Teaching and being in the district was not just a job, it was my life,” said Green, who taught or served as principal in four elementary schools: Flanders, Grace, Hillside, and Kenbrook. “I was always trying to find advocates for kids in previous school board elections and encouraging them to run.”
All five of Green’s children have attended Farmington Public Schools; she feels her experience with general education and special education curriculums will be an asset to the board.
Green said her first priority as a candidate is equity, not only in terms of diversity but in resources, supplies, and staffing among buildings. She believes the district needs a guideline for what supplies should be in each classroom. While parent groups raise supplemental funds, not every school community has equal resources.
“There are tremendous discrepancies in our academic performance we have to address,” she said. “You can’t continue to do more of the same and expect different results. We need to analyze what we’re doing.”
Green would like to see the district form more partnerships that can help level the field. During her time at Hillside Elementary, she worked with Farmington Hills-based Cengage Learning to have employees read to students who needed support. The company also donated quality reading materials.
Green points to relationships, rigor – ensuring teachers have everything they need to teach students from low to high levels – and relevance as keys to academic success. She noted that while the district has a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) Academy for K-8, “there’s no STEAM program at the high school.”
“We have to change our approach as the world changes,” she said. “We have to make sure we adapt and change so we have invested learners.”
Green would like to see the district look to Oakland Schools, an intermediate district that serves 26 member districts, and across the nation for ideas. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We need to look at what’s yielded high gains and results for all learners. We can do better by our students.”
One of the board’s biggest challenges over the next two years will likely be finding a new superintendent, as Dr. George Heitsch has made clear his plan to retire. While the district has many viable internal candidates, Green feels officials owe the community a broader search. She said she would look for someone who has a high standard for curriculum and instruction, experience in the area of diversity, understanding of the district’s current data, and ideas for improvement.
Green said she was part of an internal “proactive budget committee” that completed a projection designed to guide the district into the future. While the district “didn’t live into” that work, she said, she’d like to see it resurrected.
“To me, that would be a way we would know what our working capital is,” she said. “We have to stay competitive to maintain quality instructors… quality personnel, period. Every one of these people has an essential role in the success and development of these students.”
Green would also engage the public on that committee. “Then you also have that transparency, and if there’s a need, it’s easier to see.”