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The race for School Board district 3 is between Jaimie Fairbanks and Malia Hollowell. PATH reached out to both candidates to get their perspectives on gifted ed in the Tahoma School District.  Below are their unfiltered, unedited responses to our questions.

Name: Jamie Fairbanks
District: 3

Q. Why are you running for office?

I am running for office because I love kids and our schools. More importantly I believe all students need a voice and I bring both a unique perspective and vast
experience that is not currently represented on our board. Additionally, I bring my years as a secondary public school teacher and the last eight years where I have actively helped in Tahoma’s Elementary Schools as a parent volunteer and PTA member. I can bring that perspective of experience along with my ability to listen and work with all kinds of people and backgrounds.

Q. Describe your familiarity with Tahoma School District’s Highly Capable program and how you believe it compares to other districts’ Highly Capable programs.

While I do not have personal experience in the Highly Capable program I was the PTA president and parent at Shadow Lake Elementary, which was the districts highly capable school for many years. Additionally, my work with the school brought me into every classroom at Shadow Lake and so I got to know both Ms.
White and Ms. Chase who have been highly capable teachers for years in Tahoma. I also work with various groups throughout the community and have many friends who currently have students in the Highly Capable program. In comparison to other districts HiCap programs, I would say ours is good at the elementary level but could use improvement when it comes to our secondary schools.

Q. What changes (if any) for Tahoma School District’s Highly Capable program would you endorse?

I would love to see the highly capable program extend into the middle school and high school experience. I think we fail these students by not giving them support after their elementary years. We work so hard to give them a good start to school but then we don’t support them in some of their most critical years. I believe this is an area of improvement for us and I am excited about the opportunity to extend these services for students. Additionally, having spoken to many parents who have had to come and advocate for their students for additional testing in order to be placed in the Highly Capable program, I realize we need to improve our approach. I would like to see literature sent home telling parents about additional testing and how it is possible to be placed in the Highly Capable program even if they do not score high enough on both tests. If we truly want to have all Highly Capable students in our program, then we need to make sure all parents know
about the program and how to advocate for their student.

Q. What do you want parents of Tahoma School District children deemed “Highly Capable” to know about you?

I am someone who is ready to learn more about the program and listen to parents. I will always have an open door and a listening ear. I will work hard to make sure their student is supported and advocated for. I feel every student deserves the best education possible and this includes their child.

Name: Malia Hollowell
District: 3

Q. Why are you running for office?

Eight years ago, I transitioned from being a classroom elementary teacher to building a successful online company where I provide teacher training and math, literacy and science activities.

Because of my business, I collaborate with, listen to and learn from thousands of teachers around the country. I am excited to bring a new set of eyes to our local community so that the 8,500 students in OUR district can benefit from what’s working in today’s classrooms.

Q. Describe your familiarity with Tahoma School District’s Highly Capable program and how you believe it compares to other districts’ Highly Capable programs.

Our oldest son, Chase, is in the 3rd grade Discovery class at Lake Wilderness. Although he has just begun his official journey in Tahoma’s Highly Capable program, I have been monitoring it as an educator and parent advocate for the last few years.

I believe that Tahoma has made great strides to provide a quality education for our children – the Discovery classes in grades 3 through 5 are a great example of that.

In order to support and develop Tahoma’s world class programs, however, we need to build an ongoing culture of improvement and growth. Strengthening the language arts and science options available to highly capable middle school students is a critical next step. For our highly capable children, academic rigor and social-emotional programming are paramount to their success.
I am deeply committed to providing ALL of our children the cutting-edge education they need to excel.

Q. What changes (if any) for Tahoma School District’s Highly Capable program would you endorse?

First, I believe we must improve the highly capable language arts and science offerings in middle school so that they better meet our students’ needs.

And second, we need to take a closer look at the differentiation in kindergarten through second grade to ensure that our highly capable children are receiving appropriate stretch work. Professional development and ongoing reflection is key to improvement and growth.

Q. What do you want parents of Tahoma School District children deemed “Highly Capable” to know about you?

As the PTA president at Shadow Lake (and a parent advocate for our son), I had ongoing conversations with the principal about ways to further differentiate instruction for our highly capable students. I am extremely committed to providing ALL of our children the education they need to excel.