Using experience to meet students' needs

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BELOIT - Megan Miller hopes to bring her background in education to help the School District of Beloit meet all children's needs.

Miller, 34, is one of eight candidates running for four positions on the Beloit school district board of education. She and her husband Scott have three children, ages 7, 4, an 11-month, who either attend Beloit schools or will be enrolled in the future.

She taught history, English, and reading at Beloit Memorial High School for five years and continued to work with early literacy. She serves as the president of the board of Little Turtles Playhouse Parent Cooperative Daycare, and is the religious school teacher at her synagogue. She also works at Blackhawk Technical College where she creates early college opportunities for kids.

Miller said the district needs an updated strategic plan that relies on data to gage the district's success with measurable ways to check compliance and improvements.

Miller said there are various challenges in the district surrounding racial concerns, an achievement gap of gender with boys not doing as well as girls in elementary reading as well as discipline issues. The various issues, she said, need to be measured with data so informed decision making can occur and sound policies can be written to guide the district.

Miller said there needs to be consequences for bad behavior and children must be held accountable. However, she said she doesn't believe in "bad children," only children with challenges which usually can be met by creative teachers and staff. In a high poverty district, children may have unmet basic needs such as hunger and may not always communicate their needs in the most positive way.

"While we need consequences that are fair and consistent, the larger issue is how the district needs to be more responsive to the needs of kids," Miller said. "You have to as a district be prepared to teach the kids you have, not the kids you want."

Miller said some children with diagnosed behavior issues, for example, need time built into the school day to talk about constructive ways to deal with feelings.

Miller said she's interested in reducing class sizes and addressing scheduling issues so teachers can better manage and educate children.

"We've seen lagging achievement data, but haven't seen a lot of responsiveness to class sizes and work environment," she said. "There are basic common sense ways to prevent behavior issues and most teachers are good at it, but there is less management when there are too many kids."

Miller said she's a positive person and believes Beloit has what it needs to improve schools - teachers who love kids and a community who wants to help. The key, she said, is improved communication and engagement with the public to help everyone come together to address kids' needs.

If elected, Miller said she will be a good listener and gather all the information and facts before reaching a decision. She said she's a civil and calm person, but will not back off on making sure there is accountability in the district.

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