In part of the 2022 Election coverage, the Winters Express if featuring Meet the Candidate articles to share information about the candidates with the community. Each week will feature two candidates between the City Council and Board of Trustee line ups.
Although there is no election for the Winters Joint Unified School District Trustee Area Three seat on the November ballot, Incumbent Joedy Michael filed to remain a Board of Trustee member to utilize the experience he’s gained.
“I’ve spent the last 20 years leading teams of staff and managing budgets in nonprofit, private, and public sectors,” Michael explained, but that the most important thing he’s learned is to, “have a foundation of compassion and humility,” for any organization to succeed, and he hopes to continue to bring that ethos to Winters JUSD as a Board of Trustee member.
Michael further said that, “students really deserve a positive education experience in our community,” and that though the work he has done with the Board in his term has accomplished much, “there is still a lot of work to do,” that he wants to continue.
Michael noted that in his work with the Board through COVID-19, he was no stranger to controversial issues, but maintains that, “complicated issues are a powerful tool for people to learn if everybody can listen to all the sides,” and that it’s important for both members of the public and Winters JUSD employees to remember everyone is, “just parents trying to do is right for our children,” where listening and compassion can let both the school district and the community come to understand each other.
When asked about his priorities, Michael off-handedly noted that there are, “probably 100,” he could list, but concluded that the most important issues for Winters JUSD are student achievement, fiscal health, and organizational cohesiveness. Michael said that the school district, is, “setting the tone,” implementing equitable practices to improve student literacy, “isn’t a choice,” but a necessity for the entire district.
Regarding fiscal needs, Michael emphasized the importance of long term planning and priorities to not only remain solvent but to address bigger issues, like, “staff compensation, deferred maintenance and facility issues, and allow us to pivot in economic challenges.” Michael says that this connects to the need for organization cohesiveness, acknowledging that as a smaller district, Winters JUSD staff members are often stretched thin and taking on multiple roles, and the school district can and will find ways to support all its employees and keep the system running smoothly.
Engagement between Winters JUSD and its families is a key aspect to making this system work, Michael explained, especially given Winter’s small size, and that, “having partnerships with these key stakeholders and sharing the importance and value of parent engagement is a belief that is part of the system.” Therefore, keeping equitable lines of communication open, including in multiple languages, identifying and overcoming barriers, and ensuring that Board members have a presence outside of just the board meetings, to appear at school and in the community to talk with the families they represent.
Michael also made sure to address some concerns raised by members of the community regarding the protection of special education students, noting that an existing director of student services’ work will be expanded to help support special education students and their families, and saying the District needs to gather more data to make sure all of their students are having their needs met.