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My Goals

My top prioritiy is that our schools provide all students with the skills and knowledge they need to achieve their dreams. Be it higher education, a trade, or a combination of the two, the education they get in high school is a critical stepping stone along that path.

- Address the needs of low-performing and at-risk students:

Teenagers often make bad choices. They disengage from school, disrupt class, get into fights, drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, cut classes, or in some cases, succumb simply and quietly to depression. They are often the victims of bullying, or the perpetrators. Often these behaviors are symptoms of emotional pain and
discouragement. My goal is to shine more light on these kids and to work with counselors, administration, and teachers to research and implement programs that can effectively address those needs.

Our counselors work wonderfully with the students in their care, but we can do more by engaging the entire staff in practices that are proactive, that help put students on a positive track and prevent more serious problems from developing.

We have begun discussing this issue in the School Board study sessions and are in the process of gathering data that will help us analyze the factors that lead up to behaviors that warrant expulsion, including the evaluation of our current discipline policy and practices. We are scheduling meetings with our school counselors and administrators to learn more about what programs are already in place and to share our mutual concerns and ideas. Once we all feel satisfied with the information we have gathered, my goal is to begin working together to develop a research-based, district-wide system of positive supports and interventions.

- Expand community-based apprenticeship programs:

Although there is limited research on effective intervention programs for students at risk of dropping out, one consistent thread is the need for relevancy in education. This is true for for all students. Northern Humboldt High Schools have outstanding vocational education programs, yet we still have a shortage in Humboldt County of skilled youth, especially in the trades. I would like to expand vocational education opportunities for all students by creating a network of community-based apprenticeship programs in a wide variety of occupations.

- Support ongoing improvement of the nutritional quality of school meals:

Fourteen years ago, I heard an interview on the radio with Dr. Stephen Schoenthaler, a sociology professor at California State University, Stanislaus. He talked about his research on the effects of nutrition on behavior and learning in youth. The results were dramatic. Nutritious meals lowered the incidence of violent and anti-social behavior of boys in juvenile detention by 50%. Daily supplements in New York's City Schools raised IQ scores by as much as 16 points over the course of a school year.

The kitchen at Arcata High is providing meals for both Arcata and McKinleyville High Schools
, with fruit and green salads, soups, and entrees. For too many of our students, the school lunch is the most nutritious meal of their day. I want to help continue to improve the nutritional quality of the meals we serve our students.

- Facilitate participation in the local Farm to School program coordinated by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers:

In 2009, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) had recently expanded its Farm to School program to include marketing of local produce to school lunch programs. With the new kitchen, our District was in a perfect position to participate in purchasing fresh organic produce from local farmers. In addition, Six Rivers Charter School had started a garden, and Shannon Morago had just won a $6,000 grant to expand the project.

Excited about the opportunity, I arranged a meeting with the food service manager, Sue Cole, and the CAFF marketing director, Melanie Patrick. Between the information Melanie provided, support from the Humboldt County Office of Education, and farmers in the school community, Sue is now able to provide our students with local organic salads, apples, and as much local produce as the lunch budget allows. In addition, the Six Rivers garden has grown, and students are now harvesting their own produce for school lunches.

- Increase open communication among teachers, parents, administration, and the broader community:

Open, honest, and responsive communication is essential to realizing all of these goals. By working together, we can create an environment of trust and respect in which our children can thrive. Community is relationship; caring, supportive relationships make healthy communities.

Friends of Dana Silvernale 2013