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Janice Weiner: Building relationships and trust

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Janice Weiner, guest columnist

To those of you who read this, thank you for your engagement — I hope you will cast your vote in this election. Few elected bodies have a greater impact on you and your family, on our children and our collective future — yet school board elections draw precious few voters. Let’s change that on July 19.

I have deep roots in this community. I grew up in Coralville, attended Coralville Central, Northwest, and West, and received an education that launched me in life. I had dedicated teachers who encouraged me, believed in me, and inspired me — some of whom remain dear friends to this day. Thanks to them, I pursued postsecondary education, and then a 26-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service. Everywhere I went, from East Germany to Turkey to Poland, I took my Iowa values and my Iowa upbringing (and became quite adept at describing where Iowa City was in any language I spoke).

With my Foreign Service career is in the rear view mirror, I came back. I brought with me the skill sets I gained in my years serving this country abroad. Now I want to give back to this community. Throughout my career, I dealt with diverse communities in all senses of the word; I listened and learned, asked questions, helped craft consensus, synthesized information. I built relationships, bridges and trust with politicians of all stripes and at all levels of government. I worked through crisis situations; delivered tough messages — and was on the receiving end of many as well; organized major events; and broke bread with a broad range of people. I dealt with constant change and worked hard to embrace and grow from that change as I moved my family from country to country. I have seen many different communities and many different schools. I served on the school board of the International School of Düsseldorf, where a board comprised of six different nationalities and backgrounds worked together to support a school with children representing more than 50 countries.

It is much too easy to get bogged down in the details. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this District has great facilities and, even more important, tremendous, dedicated teachers and staff. Our children — whether they attend a neighborhood elementary school, or a junior high or high school some miles from home — are resilient; they will learn and grow and thrive.

I believe strongly that it is our job — as a school board, as a district, as a community of parents and teachers — to educate ALL our children — and to challenge them all. Our children hail from many different cultures, which we should embrace. Education — educating our children for their future and ours — is a common culture we can all value. Whether a young person aspires to apprentice to an electrician, become an EMT, a teacher, an engineer, a doctor, a mechanic, a social worker, or any of hundreds of possible jobs and professions, it is our job to prepare them for that, to teach them that all are worthy endeavors, to inspire them, and give them the tools to achieve their goals. Let’s support our teachers and make sure they can do the work they love; let’s work with our parents; and let’s support a shared culture of education for all our children.

• On Facebook: Janice Weiner for ICCSD School Board

The Iowa City school board special election will be Tuesday, July 19.

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