Candidate Q&A: Christy Vander Haagen, Dexter School Board
Note to readers: The Sun Times News has made its media outlet available to candidates running for public office. Articles published do not reflect an endorsement by the STN. Submissions are from candidates who responded within our guidelines. In order to be as fair and equitable as possible, candidates can submit their responses to four basic questions.
- Who are you?
- Why are you running?
- What issues do you think are important?
- Why should we vote for you?
Candidate’s responses are printed as submitted.
My name is Christy Vander Haagen. I am running for Dexter Community Schools Board of Education. I never imagined I would run for office. However, after being in Dexter for nearly 20 years, raising my two daughters in Dexter Community Schools and attending dozens of School Board meetings, I have become concerned about the direction of the Board and consequently the direction of our school district.
I am running because Dexter Schools is falling behind other districts in academic performance. Our students deserve better. I am running because our parents and kids need more advocates on the Board. I am not afraid to be the person asking questions, challenging the ‘old ways’ or voting “no” when I do not feel the matter at hand is in the best interest of our students. If you want someone on the Board who doesn’t just “go with the flow”, I’m your candidate.
I feel DCS has strayed from some paths that served our students so well in recent years. We must be laser focused on the following points:
Our students DESERVE quality educations and help with learning loss. Our time and money should be focused on providing strategies and initiatives to narrow the learning gap from the disruption in education caused by the pandemic. This should entail helping parents by providing tutoring for kids who have fallen behind. We should focus on hiring more support staff for teachers who need assistance in the classroom in order to provide instruction for students who have fallen behind. They don’t all just “catch up.”
Our students DESERVE to be SAFE in their schools. We must more vigilantly monitor who is entering our buildings and there should be limited entrances. We must ENSURE all schools have cameras that are working properly and monitored by staff. We must eliminate unsafe practices such as propping doors open and leaving doors unlocked allowing students (and whomever else) to enter/exit as they please.
Our students DESERVE ADVOCACY. Parents and families are an integral part of their kids’ educations. As a Board Trustee, one of my focuses will be on encouraging more involvement from parents/families in our School Board meetings. The Board should not only welcome parents’ attendance but also enthusiastically encourage input and feedback. If I am entrusted with the position, I will listen to and answer questions to the best of my ability and as soon as I have an answer or remedy. The School Board should work with parents, not against them. I will help ensure that is the case.
Our parents DESERVE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY from the Board. Parents should never be left out of decisions affecting their students’ educations. As a Trustee, I will encourage transparency on how and where money is spent. I will pay close attention to curriculum changes and advocate for material that will best prepare our students for whatever avenue they plan to take after graduation.
I will listen to my constituents and vote with their best interests and feedback in mind. I would understand I work for the people who elected me. Not the other way around.
My experiences in the workforce for 30 years have prepared me for dealing with challenging issues, challenging people and seemingly insurmountable problems. I served in our school’s parent-teacher group, helped in my kids’ classrooms and worked as a substitute teacher in the schools for several years. I have a good understanding of how the schools work and an appreciation for the important relationship between schools and parents.
I look forward to earning your vote in November.
Christy Vander Haagen
Photo courtesy of Christy Vander Haagen