terrell-isd-questionnaire

TERRELL, Texas — Two candidates are vying for Place 3 on the Terrell Independent School District's Board of Trustees, Pat Martin and Tonya Derrick.

Both responded to an inForney.com candidate questionnaire leading up to Early Voting, which begins Monday, April 19, 2021, and continues through April 27. Election Day is May 1, 2021. Their responses are below, in the order they appear on the ballot.

For more election information from Kaufman County, visit their website, here.

Pat Martin

Introduction

My name is Pat Martin. I am a candidate for the Terrell ISD School Board, Place 3. I have been married to my high school sweetheart, Gil, for 46 years. Our son, Anthony, graduated from Terrell High. I have lived in Terrell for the past 37 years, and I have been actively involved in the Terrell School Community for more than three decades. Before retiring in 2014, I served TISD students as a teacher, a campus administrator, and a district administrator. I am currently a proud TISD volunteer. I am a member of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, where I serve as the Sunday School Superintendent, a Deaconess, a Vacation Bible School Teacher, an Usher, and the Chairperson for Community Outreach. I am also a member of the 22 Marechal Niel Club, a local civic and charity club, where I serve as Chairperson for the Scholarship Committee.

Question 1: Why have you chosen to run for a place on the Terrell ISD Board of Trustees and what unique personal experiences/ perspectives/qualifications do you believe you bring to the board?

I chose to run for the Terrell ISD School Board because it provides a platform to advocate for the public-school community. I believe every decision the board makes should start with the question, “How will this help our students…socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually?” A “Students First” approach ensures that all decisions are focused on meeting the needs of the whole child, which ultimately leads to improvement in student achievement. To that end, I have the unique perspective of having been a TISD Parent, Teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Director of Special Education, and Executive Director of Special Programs. Based on prior experience, I will bring to the board knowledge of curriculum and instruction, an understanding of students’ needs in special programs, including students in Special Education and students in the Bilingual/ESL program.

Having served TISD students as a teacher, I can readily identify with the commitment and tireless dedication of teachers. Finally, as a former TISD parent, I easily see the parent-caregiver point of view on various issues and know the importance of the home/school partnership in helping students reach their full potential.

Question 2: What do you feel is the single most pressing issue facing our school district today, and how would you propose to address the issue?

The single most pressing issue facing the district today is the far-reaching impact of COVID-19, including the impact of the pandemic on student learning.

District Strengths:

  • An immediate transition from in-person to remote learning
  • Work packets, devices, hotspots, smart buses provided to help students access learning
  • Meals delivered to students by TISD staff

District Challenges:

  • Learning loss experienced by some students
  • Hardship experienced by parents/teachers/staff
  • District financial hardship resulting from decreased student enrollment and student attendance (District enrollment has decreased by 140 Students, mainly at the Burnett campus, the district’s most critical campus for future student success)

Recommendations:

  • For learning loss: Summer camp, Super Saturday School on designated Saturdays throughout the year, before/after school workshops, virtual workshops for students/parents, online credit recovery options
  • For hardship experienced by parents/teachers/staff: Provide resources, using the District Community Resource Guide, address individual needs on a case-by-case basis
  • For district financial hardship: Explore creative ways to generate funds, such as grants and community and business sponsorships; investigate ways to adjust the budget; as a last resort, use funds from the district’s fund balance.

Question 3: What are some other issues, if any, do you feel face the district -- today and in the near future?

I scheduled a visit with Dr. Warnock, the TISD Superintendent, on February 1, 2020 to welcome her to the district and share the district strengths and areas in which the district can improve. District strengths I discussed with her included but were not limited to:

  • The K-5 Realignment of the Elementary Schools to increase student learning (Burnett as an Early Learning Center and K-5 campuses at Willie, Wood, and Long)
  • The Grow Your Own Program (Paraprofessionals can complete college coursework to become certified teachers)
  • ExCEL Center (Provides student and community services)
  • Expansion of the Fine Arts Program
  • Dual Credit Program

District improvement areas I discussed with Dr. Warnock included but were not limited to initiatives to:

  • Address teacher Retention (TISD has a high teacher turnover rate, Terrell average is 28.3%, the state average is 16.5%)
  • Address student discipline
  • Increase the number of students identified for Gifted and Talented Education (District average is 5.45%, the state average is 8.1%)
  • Improve participation and performance on the SAT (All student groups performed below the state average)
  • Strengthen Early Literacy (Reading ability)
  • Increase participation in the Pre-AP Program

Question 4: What are some strengths or weaknesses the district possesses to address these issues?

I scheduled a visit with Dr. Warnock on January 29, 2021, to follow-up on the district’s progress regarding areas of improvement. In brief, I will share only three of the many issues discussed.

Teacher Retention: Research shows that one of the most important factors influencing student achievement is the teacher.

District Initiatives to address high teacher turnover:

  • Mentors for first-year teachers and for second year teachers as needed
  • Tiger Academy, monthly support meetings
  • Other incentives, such as sick leave pool
  • The Grow Your Own program

SAT Participation and Performance: Students who perform at or above the SAT criterion are better prepared for college and careers.

District Initiatives to increase participation/performance on the SAT:

  • The SAT was given at THS during the school day to increase participation
  • SAT preparation in Math and English classes was implemented to increase performance
  • PSAT will be offered at THS during the school day in 2021-22

Early Literacy: Kindergarten readiness is the gateway to college and career readiness.

District Initiatives to strengthen early literacy:

  • New position, Director of Literacy, added at Burnett
  • Literacy Director serves as a literacy coach for teachers/provides parent training through the district’s Caregiver University

Question 5: Are there any other issues/points that define your campaign for a place on Terrell ISD’s Board of Trustees?

I have no children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews enrolled in Terrell ISD schools. As a proud member of the Terrell community, I believe that all children belong to all the citizens of Terrell. Together, we enjoy a shared responsibility for student success. As a board member, I will advocate for students first, empowered teachers, parent and community engagement, and high expectations for all. I will consistently stand up and speak up for the good of all students. A vote for Pat Martin is a vote for a voice for ALL students!

Sources for Information included in my responses: TAPR (Texas Academic Performance Report) and personal visits with Dr. Warnock, the Terrell ISD Superintendent.

Contact info: My campaign Facebook page is @Patmartincampaign, email address is pat_martin52@yahoo.com (underscore after pat), phone number is (972) 524-4384.


Tonya Derrick

Introduction

I was born and raised in Terrell, Texas. I was actively involved in student government and other activities while in high school and graduated from Terrell High in 1985. I continued my education at the University of North Texas in Denton where I earned a BS in Library and Information Science. I opted to delay my graduation 1 year to intern in the corporate library at IBM-Houston, TX providing support to engineers at both IBM and NAS. After graduation, I began my career at a library consortium in Dallas, providing website development and technical support to school, pubic and corporate libraries and librarians. I later switched my career focus to Information sciences. For the past 30+ years I have been in the technology industry. I am currently employed as a Senior e-Discovery Analyst for a nearby city entity. I am involved in numerous public service organizations, where I mentor to students. I also serve on the advisory council to a collegiate organization at UNT. I am a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Terrell.

I will work toward bridging the digital divide ensuring the Terrell ISD have the necessary resources so all students, faculty and staff may succeed.

Question 1: Why have you chosen to run for a place on the Terrell ISD Board of Trustees and what unique personal experiences/perspectives/qualifications do you believe you bring to the board? 

As a lifetime resident and graduate of Terrell HS, I have chosen to run for school board to focus on meeting the academic and social needs of our students. I have watched the district grow and it is my intention to ensure all students are afforded opportunities to be successful academically. I want to make certain that we create learning environments where all students can flourish. My experience in leadership and municipal government has afforded me the knowledge and skills required to make sound decisions that will lead to the success of our students and staff.

Question 2: What do you feel is the single most pressing issue facing our school district, today, and how would you propose to address the issue?

Recovering from COVID-19: The pandemic affected student learning. We have had families, staff and students that contracted the disease. Quarantining at home has led to academic learning loss for our students. They have not able to be in the classroom is critical to a student’s success. As a district, it is important to focus on moving forward. Our plans should include tutoring, after school tutoring, accelerated learning. We will have to multitask, become creative in our approach, and develop plans to reach those students to ensure those students have the resources they need to succeed.

Question 3: What are some other issues, if any, do you feel face the district — today and in the near future? 

Student Academic Achievement is always a priority. We must maintain high quality academic programs and ensure we have the best trained educators in front of our students every day.  Using teacher feedback, find out what they need to improve their teaching styles and provide high quality professional development.

Question 4: What are some strengths or weaknesses the district possess to address these issues?

The Board is doing is do a fine job. They have been working on making adjustments to create an environment where students can safely learn on campus. Significantly reducing the incidents of Covid-19 virus spread on each campus.

Strengths are – the academic programs, fine arts, family culture, teachers and building community relationships. We have students in gifted and talented honors programs, band, fine arts, choir and athletic programs who are all excelling academically, but we also want to make sure students in our special population are successful as well. We also want to give support to those teachers who are leading those programs.

Question 5: Are there any other issues/points that define your campaign for a place on Terrell ISD’s Board of Trustees?

One key issue is bridging the digital divide or lack of internet access for our students. I will bring my technical background to assist the administration in creating solid partnerships with wireless companies that will provide discounted mobile hot-spots or wi-fi services to those students who may not have access to high-speed internet at their home.

I am going in with an open mind to serve and work as a team on the agendas that are currently in process.