WSFCS Board of Education Candidate Reponses, Leah Crowley, District 2

Published 12:10 am Thursday, November 3, 2022

Leah Crowley, District 2, Republican

1) Describe any experience you have in a public school environment, whether that be as a teacher, administrator, coach, staff member, current member of the school board, substitute teacher, PTA involvement, etc.

My first job out of college was substitute teaching in Spotsylvania County Schools in Virginia — it was short term as I found full-time employment in my field. When I moved to Charlotte, a friend recruited me to volunteer as a mentor for a second grader at Eastover Elementary — a school located in a very affluent neighborhood that included children from a high poverty and high crime neighborhood. I met with my student weekly through her fifth grade year. My husband’s job moved us to Winston-Salem and, through Junior League, I coached Girls on the Run, a self esteem and healthy decision making program for third through fifth graders for seven years at five schools. I also started performing the Junior League Puppet Show — Someone to Talk to — in over 40 elementary schools in Forsyth County. In an age-appropriate way, the show teaches children awareness of abuse so that they can tell a trusted adult. I did this traveling show for 11 years, until the pandemic shutdown. When my own children started school in 2006, I immediately dove into PTA, serving on multiple committees and chairing Fall Fest, Mayfest, Talent Show, Business Partners, Fun Run and Summer Reading Program before serving as PTA president (2014) and being awarded Volunteer of the Year (2014 and 2018) at my children’s school. Like many parents, I have done everything from painting sets for the musical and chaperoning field trips to baking cupcakes and proctoring EOGs. Twice a week, I tutored a student from second grade through fifth.

Since serving on the board these past four years, I have gone wherever I was needed: to work the car rider line, serve school lunches, substitute teach, check temperatures, work the front office, proctor tests, experience hybrid learning, celebrate milestones, judge projects and contests, support grieving students and staff, attend programs and sporting events and review scholarship applications. I also trained to become a Reading Warrior, tutoring two kindergartners twice a week. Additionally, I performed my school board duties of preparing for and attending school board meetings.

2) What do you feel are the biggest issues facing students, teachers and staff at schools currently, and within your authority as a member of the BOE, how would you work to fix them?

The greatest challenge facing our school district is student proficiency in reading and math. Pre-COVID district-wide we were at 50%, with a few schools being at less than 10%. Since COVID, with the unprecedented nationwide closing of schools, student proficiency rates plummeted further. The approach to improve our students’ achievement must be multi-pronged — and all of these parts have their own challenges. We need to retain and recruit teachers and support staff. We need families, to the best of their abilities, to help position their students for success. We need
students to be in school every day ready to learn. We need to provide mental health resources for students and staff who are struggling. We need to address discipline issues that hinder the learning environment. We need volunteers who will tutor and mentor students. It will take everyone working together to support our students and staff in order to achieve success. As a board member, my support comes from voting in favor of policies and resources that will best serve our students and staff.

3) What would you do as a member of the BOE to establish relationships with the schools and students outside of being present for all meetings?

The biggest factor for establishing relationships is being accessible. Responding to phone calls and emails, being at schools, attending extracurricular events all position me to listen and learn. I meet with numerous people — teachers, parents, grandparents, counselors, concerned citizens, faith community leaders, administrators, students, philanthropists, coaches and alumni who all want to see our district thrive. Many appreciate my willingness to meet and listen, and most times, advocate for the change they want.