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District 833 School Board candidate: Sharon Van Leer

Name: Sharon Van Leer

Age: 70

City: Woodbury

Occupation: Manager for Diversity and Inclusion

Family: Married, six children, 14 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren

Incumbent or challenger: Incumbent

How do your skills or experience set you apart as a candidate?

I believe I have good interpersonal skills, patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. In my current role as Manager for Diversity and Inclusion, I am able to use my collaborative skills enabling me to work productively across all levels of management and with colleagues to achieve the best results. Creativity and presentation are important skills needed in strategic planning. It is important to know that if you are to be an effective individual in anything you do, you need to recognize that you can't do it alone.

I am endorsed by the United Teachers of South Washington County, OUTFRONT Minnesota and the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council.

What do you believe the school board can do to narrow academic achievement gaps?

I feel that the achievement gap is essential to academic excellence and success for all children. We need to make closing the achievement gap a districtwide priority. It is the responsibility of educators to set high expectations within the classrooms and focus on academic excellence that provides a safe, orderly learning environment for students and staff. Using test data and other proven research to guide classroom instruction. Closing the achievement gap should be a country, state, district wide and community responsibility.

Is the budget and school funding the biggest challenge facing the district?

The budget is one of the many challenges we face, but currently the most significant issue. We have the bond renewal and the levies to pass. It is important to set good policies and attainable goals that hold the district accountable for results. We have been very diligent regarding our finances, and it doesn't help that our legislators can't provide us with the adequate funding to educate our children. I think this is where we begin, with them.