Candi Ochoa, the current Board of Trustee for Area 4, will be ending her tenure when her term expires later this month. As no one elected to run to fill her position, the Winters Joint Unified School District began the process in September to fill Ochoa’s position via an application and appointment process.
At the Thursday, Nov. 3 meeting, the Board concluded the selection process with the public interview of the only applicant, Winters High School cheer coach and teacher, Sterling Davis.
Davis, having applied for and been approved to interview by the Board, stood before them during the meeting to answer their questions on her fitness for the role.
Board President Carrie Green began the process by asking Davis, “What do you see as the basic purpose of public schools, and what is the role of the Board of Trustees in the fulfillment of that purpose?”
“The basic role of public schools,” Davis answered, “is to educate students and scholars for life after high school,” including not just the academic, but also, “athletic preparedness…(and) social and emotional support.”
The role of the Board, Davis said, is to “promote the goals of the district, and to make sure that our students, our staff, our superintendent, are adhering to our goals.”
Board Clerk Joedy Michael asked, “what are you most proud of the district [for],” and “what would you like to accomplish as a Board Member?”
Davis admitted she’s, “fairly new to the educational side of the district,” as her children are only just starting kindergarten. “But I have been a part of the coaching aspect for five years as head cheer coach.” She
continued she’s, “proud of this district…(for) its community.” Davis related to the Board that her daughter had the opportunity to attend school in a neighboring district where Davis works, but that she ultimately decided to enroll her daughter in a Winters school, “because I wanted my kids to attend a school where they could grow roots in a community like Winters.”
Regarding her goals, Davis noted the challenges she faces in her teaching career, and that she hopes, “to accomplish as a board member…supporting and retaining teachers,” by, “improving conditions for not just teachers but staff and admin,” including through, “compensation, support systems,” and other means.
Ochoa asked Davis, “as a Trustee, what do you see as your primary purpose or primary role?”
“My primary role is to represent the area that I am elected for,” Davis stated, “it’s my role to be present and represent the community that I’m coming from.” She continued that, “if selected as a Trustee, I would fulfill my role by being sure that I am fully aware and informed on the issues.”
Acting Superintendent Phoebe Girimonte asked Davis to, “describe your response to being asked to take a stance on a particularly hot issue.”
Davis responded to her, “parent engagement is actually one of my strengths as an educator.” When talking with parents on controversial issues, she says, “I would listen to their concerns, I would withhold my opinion and my immediate feedback, and I would…invite them to come talk in an open session (of the Board).”
Trustee Everardo Zaragoza prompted Davis to, “summarize the strengths you would bring as a member of the Board.”
“My passion for education is my very first strength,” Davis began, summing up this notion with her mantra that, “a happy brain is a learning brain.” She continued that her second strength is, “my passion for my community,” relating her years of experience coaching cheer in Winters, as well as volunteering for Winters PTA, and that, “I advocate strongly for the things I care about…and I back that up with action.”
The interview concluded, and the Board unanimously approved Davis’s selection as the incoming Area Four Trustee.
Trustees expressed their gratitude for Ochoa’s service on the Board, and their appreciation that an educator like Davis would be taking the spot of Ochoa, who is also an educator.
Davis’ one concern was whether she could be an employee of Winters JUSD and serve as a Trustee. Girimonte noted that because of Davis’s employment with the school district, her “swearing in” to the role would take place in December at their organizational meeting.