Four candidates compete in Vancouver School District Position No. 4 race

Two candidates will advance from Aug. 6 primary to the general election in November

VANCOUVER — There’s a dozen candidates on the ballot for the Aug. 6 primary election who are vying for seats on the Vancouver School District’s Board of Directors.

There are openings for Positions 1, 4 and 5 on the Board. Previously, ClarkCountyToday.com offered information on the candidates seeking Position 1. In this story, candidates for Position 4 are profiled.

Voters will select out of a field that includes Kathy Decker, Lindsey Luis, Lisa Messer and Robert Stewart. The top two in the voting will advance to the November general election.

Here’s a brief look (in alphabetical order) at the candidates’ profiles offered in the voters’ pamphlet:

Kathy Decker

Four candidates compete in Vancouver School District Position No. 4 race
Kathy Decker

Decker is a former Kindergarten teacher in the Vancouver School District. She also previously served as a preschool teacher at the Family of Christ in Vancouver and as a Kindergarten and classroom teacher in Corvallis, Oregon and Fairfax, Virginia and as a English conversation teacher in Kyoto, Japan.

Decker received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. She also lists her community service as 15 years of volunteer work in the VPS classrooms attended by her three children. She has also been a Girl Scout leader, a soccer coach and a Sunday school teacher.

“As an experienced educator with a passion for providing each child with what they need, I have learned … every child deserves the chance to be successful,’’ Decker said in her statement. “We know what must be done to ensure that opportunity. The path to success begins with developmentally appropriate practices throughout early childhood. It continues with engaging, integrated curriculum. 

“Ultimately, the path to success offers older students programs to explore, discover, and create a future,’’ Decker added. “Along this path we develop lifelong learners who contribute positively to our community. The research is clear. Every teacher deserves the resources to guide their students forward. 

“Successful schools view their teachers as the professional experts they are,’’ she said. “Successful schools provide comprehensive assistance for children with high needs. Successful schools provide adequate supplies and equipment without relying on teachers funding their own classes. Successful schools are child-centered but teacher driven. 

“Every family deserves the opportunity to be involved fully in their children’s education,’’ Decker added. “Families deserve to know the range of resources available to them. Families deserve easy access to decision-makers: administrators, board members, department heads. Families deserve to be treated as the most important advocates for their children. They must be heard. Every child deserves a champion.’’

Lindsey Luis

Four candidates compete in Vancouver School District Position No. 4 race
Lindsey Luis

Luis lists no elected experience but she has worked as a voter registration captain for DoSomething.org. She has also served an internship with Give Us The Floor and also won the Youth Achievement Award for Tolerance by the Clark County Youth Commission.

Luis is a 2019 graduate of Fort Vancouver High School. She will attend Washington State University Vancouver this fall. In the community, Luis started the first chapter of the Junior State of America and has also been involved in the Key Club, National Honor Society, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlán, Black Student Union, and the League of United Latin American Citizens. 

“Our community continues to grow each year, and with that comes new perspectives and increased diversity,’’ Luis said in her statement. “Our school board should embrace and reflect these changes, therefore, I am running to represent all students and underserved families in order to lead a new vision for the Vancouver School District. 

“As a low income, first generation Latina, and a recent graduate of Vancouver Public Schools, I have an insightful understanding of the needs and issues affecting our underrepresented families,’’ Luis said. “My experience in our classrooms is recent, direct, and personal. I know the challenges our students face, especially those from diverse backgrounds, because I contended with them too. I am proud of our school district, but I realize it can be improved.

“I have spent the past two years organizing fellow students in political actions, running voter registration drives, have served as the National Youth President for the League of United Latin American Citizens, and am active in our local environmental movement,’’ Luis said. “I have been committed to improving our world, but I know change starts at home. Our students are the future of our community, and with your help I will advocate for them to create a brighter today and tomorrow.’’

Lisa Messer

Four candidates compete in Vancouver School District Position No. 4 race
Lisa Messer

Like her fellow candidates, Messer lists no elected experience. She has 14 years experience as a classroom teacher, currently serving as a science teacher at Heritage High School in the Evergreen School District.

Messer received a Bachelor’s Degree in Science Education from Western Washington University after earning an Associate’s Degree from Clark College. Her community service includes volunteering in school classrooms, political action and serving as a Church youth volunteer.

“As the mother of two students at Ogden Elementary, I see the great work done in our schools daily,’’ Messer said. “However, as a National Board Certified science teacher of 14 years, I know more must be done. Our students are changing. Their needs are not the same as in the past, and we as a district, must change with them. In the last decade, we’ve moved from chalkboards to student computers, from textbooks to project-based learning, from spelling tests to state-mandated assessments. The expectations for both students and schools is higher than ever. 

“As a teacher and parent, I have the knowledge and experience needed to help the district navigate and adapt to these changes,’’ Messer stated. “Our district needs to be responsive to these changes. The policies and budget adopted by the school board should reflect the changing priorities and values of our community and the increasingly pressing needs of our students. In addition, we must respect the expertise of educators. It is our people that make our district great. As a school board director, I promise to honor the hard work of our educators, collaborate with the community, and develop a deep understanding of our students and families.’’

Robert Stewart

Four candidates compete in Vancouver School District Position No. 4 race
Robert Stewart

Stewart lists no elected political experience. His professional experience is as a financial advisor for Columbia Credit Union working with budgets and financial planning, which he believes “will be useful in the challenges facing Vancouver School District.’’

Stewart attended Clark College and College of the Siskiyous, where he majored in Business. He has served on the YMCA Board of Managers and has been a member of the Vancouver Metro Sunset Rotary.

“I am running for School Board because I believe the most pressing issues facing Vancouver Public Schools are financial — balancing the needs of students and teachers with the amount of funds the district receives,’’ Stewart said. VPS will continue to face funding challenges and special interest pressure.’’

Stewart believes the VPS Board of Directors would benefit by having members from outside the education community.

“The Board needs people who are independent and have a broad view,’’ he said. “My experience as a local financial advisor makes me well suited to meet these financial shifts and challenges. My daughter is a student within VPS and, like all parents, I want her to have the best education possible.’’

CVTV coverage of League of Women Voters Candidate Forum

Here’s a link to CVTV’s coverage of a League of Women Voters Candidate Forum held on July 16 with candidates vying for positions on the Vancouver Public Schools Board of Directors:

https://www.cvtv.org//program/election-2019

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