School Board Candidate Feature: Lynne Woehrle, Seat 6
Lynne Woehrle is a school board candidate this year. She has been making a positive impact in the Tosa community for many years. Woehrle also has knowledge of the youth experience in Tosa, due to children of her own, and is open to listening to what students have to say.
What is Your Connection to the Tosa Community?
“I started living in Tosa in 2002. I came here for a job at Mount Mary University. Besides that, I have three children in the schools: Madison Elementary, Whitman Middle School, and West High School. I have been involved in the larger Tosa community as a founder of the organization, Tosa Together, which was founded in 2016 to try to increase the feeling of welcome in the city. We’ve worked predominantly over the last several years on issues of racism and racial justice in this city. In addition to that, as a parent, I’ve volunteered for the high school orchestra for many field trips. Last year, I worked with the whole school district, helping them to analyze and work on restorative practices, and developing a proposal for how they could add restorative justice to their strategic plan and to the district going forward. As part of that, I helped Madison Elementary write a grant, so that they could bring in a consultant to deepen and extend their restorative justice practices.”
Why Are You Running?
“As a parent, I really care about our schools and I want to see them be the very best that they can be. I teach conflict resolution and restorative practices as well as circles and systems thinking at UWM. I feel like I have skills from teaching that to others that I can also contribute to the district. I will encourage the hiring of teachers and staff that bring practices into their classrooms that help to decrease the sense of tension and conflict, as well as those who help students learn how to navigate in a world where people have different ideas and opinions. I also run a grad program, so I know a lot about budgets, grants, and curriculum. I think those are all skills I would be able to contribute to the school district. I also want to make sure that some folks in the country who are talking about banning books and excluding young people because of their identities don’t get their way in our district. I want to make sure we’re inclusive. Students need to be able to read widely, learn widely, and even learn about things that they don’t necessarily agree with, so that they can be stronger and better contributors to the world.”
In Your Opinion, What Has Our School Board/School District Done Well?
“I think our school board has really done a great job of professionalizing it’s work, checking and reviewing policy, and introducing important policy as well as rules that hopefully will help to make the schools be a place where everybody feels safe. I know there’s a lot of discussion about whether students and teachers feel safe. I think the board has really stepped up this year to try to address the factors that are leading to people feeling unsafe. I also think that the school district has done really well in the past, in figuring out how to have very strong academic outcomes for students. But there are some students that aren’t fully served. These are students that need extra support or have different ways of learning and need different kinds of tools and curriculum. Also students who are gifted and talented or students that would like more challenge in the classroom. I think we have some work to do there. We’ve also done well in offering many options to students such as trades and arts. I think we could continue to grow and strengthen those areas that perhaps haven’t been the biggest focus in schools. Students should have a wide range of options that they consider their academic success.”
What Will Be Your Number One Priority On The School Board?
“I’ve been to a lot of school board meetings and I think it’s pretty clear that it’s important to look at how to strengthen academics across the district. Making school classrooms a place where children and teens feel ready to learn, feel that they belong and are comfortable, but also are learning from curriculum that challenges them to grow. Strengthening academics for sure, but when I say academics I mean not just ABC’s, Math, and Reading. I look at the whole range of classes and courses that we offer as a part of that academic experience.”
What Is Something That You’ve Accomplished In The Last Year That You’re Proud Of?
“The grant that I helped Madison Elementary write. It was for over 40,000 dollars. I was just at a meeting where I learned that it’s had a real big impact on the school this year. It’s something that I did voluntarily in my weekend and spare time. I’m just really proud that I had that chance to get involved in that way. Having had a chance to hear a bit about the kind of impact that it’s having at Madison Elementary did make me realize that I’m pretty proud of that contribution. It was a challenging federal grant that had a lot of pieces go into it that we had to revise many times. Working with the staff to do that was something that I now feel really good about.”
How Will You Ensure That The Perspectives Of Students Are Represented On The School Board?
“Having been at school board meetings, I have seen that students are very good at attending when they are appointed to the school board. I think as a school board member I would want to help encourage more opportunities for them to speak. Elected board members could really do more to seek out that the students voice’s are heard as the meeting is happening. I also think that during meetings, students are usually at activities. We need to find a way to make it easier for students to share their ideas and thinking with the board, even if they’re not there. Not being set on the board yet, I’m not going to say we should do A,B,C, but I would really like to find out from some students, what they think would be better and stronger ways to share their ideas with the school board.”
Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Add?
“I have experience serving on a nonprofit board, so this won’t be the first time I would sit on a board. I think that’s important to know that I come with some experience. What’s interesting about that board that I’m on is that we came together as a neighborhood in 2006 to create an organization in order to change a Milwaukee city dump, that was on the edge of Tosa, into a park. I was the president of the organization while we were working on turning the old landfill into a park. I care very much about environmental education and that’s a big focus of mine. When I see something happening, I go out and try to make it better or do something about it.”