Natomas School Board Race: My K-12 Education

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz


We invited the 10 candidates running for Natomas Unified school board to answer questions submitted by readers. Today’s question asked:

“What is an experience from your own K-12 education which shaped who you are today and how you will approach the decision-making process as a Natomas school board member? Please indicate whether you attended public school or private school.”

Here are the answers submitted by the deadline, in the order they were received:

Micah Grant

I grew up attending defacto segregated public schools in south Los Angeles in the early ’90s. These schools were often surrounded by immense gang violence and lacked critical educational resources. Although I had the support of an amazing family, teachers and involved community members, it was obvious to me how that lack of resources impacted my collegiate achievement. I felt like I had to work twice as hard as my peers. I believe my experiences as a whole have given me tremendous insight as a board member. I approach board governance with an open mind and understand the very real and dynamic realities that impact student achievement, especially among those who come from similar life circumstances. Whether it’s an administrative issue, the implementation of a new program, or a constituent concern, I tend to take an outside-the-box approach and look for unconventional paths to solving problems.

Ericka Harden

My K-12 education was predominantly in public schools. I was always brought up to appreciate public school as not only as an experience that provided education, but also socialization in a community of open-minded and caring people. In my experience, this was based on equality in a civilized society. Many of the stakeholders in the school district that I attended shared values of compassion, empathy, equality, and hope for the future. At times, there has been discrimination and tragedy, but through the positive and collective efforts of the public educational system, I was ensured to have a safe and trusting place to grow and learn. I feel blessed for the tutelage and guidance that led to my own educational and personal success and I want to bring this passion and drive to this community. My decision-making process will be led by thorough and thoughtful decision-making based on integrity and responsibility.

Dr. Susan Heredia

I attended and have been a strong advocate of public schools. My amazing first grade teacher inspired me to become a teacher. I began my teaching career at Washington Elementary in the heart of Sacramento City where a majority of the student population was low-income and English learners. Because of my experience working with high need populations, I’ve advocated for and made sure our budget reflects the need for increased staffing, expansion of our social-emotional services, expanded IB and AP classes, the hiring of more social workers and psychologists at every site in Natomas. As a result of this, our students have increased test scores, the highest graduation rates in Sacramento County, with a significant increase in Natomas’ A-G rate over the years. With becoming our own SELPA, our taxpayer dollars are directly put into services for our students with disabilities. Continuing these programs is my priority.

Sumiti Mehta

I was born and raised in India. I completed my education in a traditional public school. At home and school, we were taught that without a good education, even the most modest dreams of improving one’s life become just: a dream. The American Dream can only be achieved by providing a top-end education to all students. Having the passion and love for good education and schools, I started to volunteer in the classrooms and since 2009, I have volunteered thousands of hours at multiple Natomas school sites. As a parent and woman of color in a classroom, I have gained firsthand knowledge of struggles faced by the students and their parents. I believe the current board lacks the grassroots/parent perspective. If elected I will ensure that NUSD helps students become adults, they know they can be — adults who will make a difference.

Monica Barrios

I attended public schools in three very different K-12 systems — Oakland Unified, Elk Grove Unified and one year as a foreign exchange student in the city of Passau, which is in Bavaria, Germany. Here is what I learned from my experience — the educational system in Germany was superior in preparing students for professional careers than the American school system. I attribute the German system’s focus on skills and career development to the country’s bigger picture view of education as a vehicle for preparing the workforce. The American school system curriculum from K-12 through college, is unfortunately not aligned at all to preparing students with the skills employers need. The COVID-19 pandemic gives us an opportunity to reimagine education in the United States and in Natomas, so that it is more focused on preparing students for the jobs of the future.

Christopher Alvarez

My father was a Navy corpsman, and we moved around about every four years. Growing up as a military dependent, I attended public schools in California, a private school in Guam, and Department of Defense Education Activity schools on base when living overseas. Like many of my fellow military dependents, I had to learn how to adapt to new environments and deal with change whenever I moved to a new location. My experiences taught me the importance of observing and assessing the interactions in new environments to better understand the social dynamics in order to transition well to new places. I believe this skill is important as a school board member. They should be observant of the viewpoints of all stakeholders, especially when making decisions that affect our students. Representation matters, and I will work to make sure all of your voices are heard as a school board member.

Mariana Corona Sabeniano

As a product of public education, I trusted the education system to prepare me for my path after high school. When I enrolled at Sacramento State I was placed in remedial math and english. This set me back and also added to the cost of pursuing a higher education. As a trustee, I will work to ensure we not only graduate students, but that we truly prepare them for college and career. During my 6th grade year, all students’ vision was tested at school, that’s when my parents and I learned that I needed eyeglasses! For many families, schools are the pathway to gaining basic necessities, such as access to meals, mental health services, etc., to help students be academically successful. My decision-making and approach as a trustee will be proactive, innovative, and always looking for ways to support students and families, both in and outside of the classroom.

RayNette Johnson

My fondest memories were at Sacramento High School (now Sacramento Charter High). All of my teachers and educators had patience. They were nurturing and loved their job. My decision-making will demonstrate many qualities I inherited from my educators. I will approach each subject matter effectively.



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