Candidate name: L’erin S. Cross
L’erin Cross grew up in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Several learning disabilities have been the driving force for her to make sure every child has the opportunity to thrive.
L’erin attended the University of Central Missouri where she received a bachelor’s degree in art education, with a double emphasis in painting and sculpture. She had the opportunity to teach in both rural and urban Missouri, although her favorite was working at the Kansas City Middle School of the Arts.
After moving out of state, she volunteered for a position to co-create a church curriculum for children ranging in age from 0 to 8, which provided her the opportunity to learn more about the younger developmental stages. During this position she managed purchasing and classroom design, doing diligent research when buying supplies so as not to be wasteful of money. L’erin has attended conferences every few years on child development and learning and volunteered to help make manipulatives for the Read by 3rd (M.A. Rooney Foundation and Cummins Foundation sponsors) pilot in Columbus, Indiana. The pilot, which was a great success, took the approach of using the Gillingham Method for the entire classroom.
L’erin has two children, a son in 5th grade and a daughter in Kindergarten. “They are some of the coolest people I know,” said L’erin. It is because of her children that she has been involved with the South PTO for two years.
“The reason I ran for a position on the D91 board is because of the amazing people in Forest Park,” said L’erin. “When you move here you quickly learn that many people you meet are actively serving in the community. This is an inspiration that pushes me to also serve the community.”
1. What are some of the unique challenges and opportunities that will face a brand-new superintendent and a board with three new members?
The most unique challenge with a newer board and superintendent is the unknown. We don’t know how the board and superintendent will work together; it’s a learning opportunity. The biggest opportunities are fresh ideas, drive, and energy.
2. A criticism of the District 91 school board has been its lack of communication, including videos and meeting minutes not being posted to the website. How can communication between the D91 board of education and the residents of Forest Park be improved?
Communication has incrementally improved since our family first started attending the board meetings in early 2018. It used to be difficult to find meeting times and locations. Now they are posted and easy to find on the website. Zoom/Video conference has helped immensely. I would like to see the upcoming meeting agenda posted sooner. After COVID I would like to see the continuation of the meetings in FPMS and video feed for everyone unable to attend in person. I would also like there to be a way for community members who don’t have children in the district to opt-in to email updates so they can stay aware of what’s going on.
3. What are some of the biggest challenges facing the D91 school district right now, and what steps can the board take to help address these difficulties?
In a normal year I would say that we need to see more action and communication from the District’s office. I feel that I have watched the board and district only react to situations but have failed to take a proactive approach. This year I believe the two biggest challenges we have are a young school board and a new superintendent. We will have to figure out how to work together to help support our teachers and students. We have to make up for over a year of learning loss due to COVID. We need to find a way to bridge the students’ learning gap and help them thrive academically.
4. What are some improvements you’d like to see in the district within the next three years?
1. Superintendent invested in the students
2. Improve testing results (by this I mean NOT teaching to the test but improving actual fluencies in the fields of study)
3. Forward thinking and investment into math and reading programs that work
5. Describe how you see your position as a board member in terms of your commitment to the students and their families, the faculty and staff, and the greater Forest Park community.
I have only really viewed it as a position of service to Forest Park’s children; to put them in a position to thrive and excel in their education and life aspirations. I invite and want to have conversions with parents because they know their children best and can share their needs and successes. These facts will help us know how to move forward.
6. In your opinion, how has D91 handled equity, specifically as it relates to remote learning during the COVID-19 crisis?
I believe the district was slow to act to provide hot spots and hard copy work for families in need. It didn’t think to ask the community how to proceed at the start of the year and has already placed requirements for student return which might not be a preference for many families nor an option for all families.