I am writing today to announce my candidacy for School Board Seat A in the upcoming October 1, 2019, elections. Many of you already know me from the many years my family has been a part of this town, but for those I haven’t met yet, my name is Julia Phelan. I grew up here in Delta, on a log cabin homestead along the Tanana River. I received my Elementary Education degree in 1999 and have taught in private schools and homeschools, and worked in business/contracting and R&D ever since. My current work is in clean drinking water projects throughout the state. I also serve as co-chair for Delta Imagination Library and volunteer at the school each week. Perhaps even more importantly, my husband Michael and I have built our home in Delta and are raising our family here. Our three children have been a part of the district all along, between Delta Greely Homeschool, the elementary school, and now the junior high.
Having been a teacher myself, I’ll be the first to say that an isolated test score does not show the entire picture, but one key indicator of our district’s success is the PEAKS school assessment report which was released last week. While we are thrilled to see that the Delta Greely School District is steadily improving, and that we are actually one of the stronger districts, the heartbreaking truth is that nearly half of our students are still performing below grade level.
Many people say that opportunities are limited by our location and size, but I really don’t believe that quality of education has to be one of them. One thing we learn well here is the tenacity it takes to cultivate anything, whether it’s a homestead, a business, or an education – but as this harvest season reminds us, there is greatness to be drawn out here as well. We are blessed with many truly dedicated teachers and staff members in every facet of the district. I’ve also seen this commitment among the school board members, in the focus of that group on what is best for the students. Because of the willingness of partners like Fort Greely, the Delta Career Advancement Center, and numerous local groups run by volunteer parents, we create rich opportunities for our children that extend well beyond the four walls of a traditional education. Great things are happening already; we want to see that continue.
The best way to do this as parents? Just be involved. Get to know your child’s teachers. Speak up about decisions being considered by the board. And most of all, spend time with your child, talking through issues they faced, and supporting their schoolwork. Read together. Work together. Share your life with them. We are all busy, but I often remember Jackie Kennedy’s response to questions about her work as First Lady, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” The school district is responsible for decisions on staffing, curriculum, facilities, budget, etc. yet our level of care as parents is really the determining factor in our child’s success.
I believe this commitment to excellence at every level will cause our school district to flourish, and this is what I hope to support on the school board in the coming years. Our world is changing faster than we can comprehend; like it or not, we are raising a generation of pioneers. It is more critical than ever that we step up to help give them the foundation they need to be hard working and resilient leaders, with the education and heart to carry them forward.
Thank you, in advance, for taking part in the elections on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.