Nine candidates vie for four open seats on LOCS Board of Education election

By Megan Kelley

Review Writer

In the upcoming Nov. 3 general election, nine residents of Orion Township will go head to head in a race for one of the four open seats.

While there are four seats up for grabs, there are also two candidates running for re-election: Vice President Birgit McQuiston and Trustee Scott Taylor.

Also in the running are: Danielle Bresett, Joel Cole, Susan Flaherty, Misty Morris, Edwina Mitchell Patterson, Amy Denise Silvester and Janice Zale.

To help introduce the LOCS Board of Education candidates, each candidate was asked to provide some background information on themselves and answer three questions.

The candidates’ responses, listed alphabetically are:


Danielle Bresett

Age: 45

Occupation: Private Tutor & Owner of The Academic Coaches

Community/school involvement (i.e. PTO, Boosters, etc.): Board Member for The Daisy Project of Michigan, Numerous Hours of Volunteering and Fundraising for Blanche Sims Elementary and Oakview Middle School

What do you consider to be the most important issue(s) confronting the school district?

the most important issue that LOCS currently faces is how to deliver a safe, effective education for all students while in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis. Many parents are deeply concerned how the district will provide the level of education that is expected. Addressing parental concerns and providing a world class education for all students will be the district’s main challenge for the foreseeable future.

How important is community input when making a decision that will impact students for years to come?

Community input is paramount when making decisions. I not only want input from community members who are current parents, students, and staff and teachers of our schools, but just as importantly, I want to hear from others in the community who may not currently have kids in the schools. The schools are a community resource and having a strong and successful district benefits everyone in the community. Having input from the community as a whole, will not only better our district, but also help drive the decisions that make our community exceptional which in turn makes our students exceptional.

Why did you choose to run for the board?

I have been actively involved in education for the past 21 years as a former classroom teacher, current private tutor, and as a parent deeply involved in the schools. I graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelors degree in Psychology and earned my teaching certificate in both Psychology and history. Now more than ever, public schools need board members who can not only provide leadership but can bring a unique perspective to the board. I work with students every day and see how the decisions that various boards of education make affect them. In addition, my participation on the board of The Daisy Project helps me better understand the unique challenges of our special needs community. My husband and I are both Lake Orion graduates and our son is a 4th generation dragon.


Joel Cole

Age: 40

Occupation: Electrical Engineer

Community/school involvement (i.e. PTO, Boosters, etc.): FCA Motor Citizens, Lake Orion United Methodist Project Shalom, Oakland Hills Community Garden

What do you consider to be the most important issue(s) confronting the school district?

The most important issue facing the Lake Orion Community Schools is the delay of an in- person option for the students. Students need and deserve the option of an education that develops social engagement coupled with appropriate safety measures. I know I’m not alone when I say that I’m disappointed in the board’s decision to delay in-person schooling. Many students are not acclimated to virtual learning and many parents do not want their children dependent on electronics.

How important is community input when making a decision that will impact students for years to come?

A successful school district requires public participation and healthy discourse. The ideas and concerns of the community are valuable assets when taken into consideration during the school board’s decision making process.

Why did you choose to run for the board?

I decided to run for the Lake Orion school board because there needs to be another voice upholding the interests of the students, their parents, and the residents of Lake Orion. Children are our future. We all benefit when tomorrow’s leaders are given a solid educational foundation. However, I have a vested interest in the school district’s success because it contributes to the success of my children. I’m proud to call my daughter, Adeleigh, and son, Logan, dragons.


Susan Elaine Flaherty

Age: 50

Occupation: Stay-at-home Mom (former business executive in Automotive and Telecommunications industries)

Community/school involvement (i.e. PTO, Boosters, etc.): Paint Creek Bond Committee member, Paint Creek school volunteer, community volunteer (e.g. Meals on Wheels, etc.)

What do you consider to be the most important issue(s) confronting the school district?

Currently, the most important issue is the safety, health, and well-being of our students, teachers, and administrators due to COVID-19. This issue extends beyond the physical health risks from in-person education, to the mental and emotional stability from prolonged, remote learning and social detachment, to the additional strain placed on families navigating this new world. The Board and Administration need to be proactive by monitoring conditions due to the fluidity of the situation and executing changes as needed, as well as providing clear direction and communication to the community. The district also needs to be cognizant of the financial impacts to the budget, so funds can be allocated and managed accordingly.

How important is community input when making a decision that will impact students for years to come?

We need to foster a collaborative partnership with the community and promote two-way, open communication. We are their voice and I am prepared to be their elected representative on the Board. We must maintain high quality educational standards to assure our community is a desired destination for families. This ensures high enrollment and positively impacts property values.

Why did you choose to run for the board?

My husband and I have lived in the district over 15 years. Our daughter attends Paint Creek Elementary. I am a product of Michigan public schools and received my undergraduate and Executive MBA degrees from Michigan State University. I want to ensure all children have opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive by preserving and improving the quality of education in a safe, challenging, learning environment. Lake Orion should be the first choice for families when prioritizing the education of their children. In addition, I have a 25-year career history where I held management positions in Purchasing, Facilities, Human Resources, and Strategy in the Automotive and Telecommunications industries. With my track record of implementing strategies, streamlining processes, and reducing costs, I have the requisite experience to be a strong asset to the Board.


Birgit McQuiston

Age: 56

Occupation: RN, Certified Nutritionist, Volunteer

Community/School Involvement: LO Board of Education member for over 9 years; Member of the Oakland County School Board Association Board of Directors; Member of the Michigan Association of School Boards Resolution and Bylaws Committee; Founding and current member of Blessings in a Backpack – Lake Orion Steering Committee; Volunteer for Blessings in a Brown Bag summer of 2020;

What do you consider to be the most important issue(s) confronting the school district?

Meeting the diverse educational needs of ALL our students, especially given the current climate in which schools find themselves, is our number one concern! This includes our honors students as well our at risk population and our special education students. A multitude of unique needs are encompassed therein. The Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and health of our students and staff is of concern and must also be met. Overseeing the education of ALL students is the high calling of any Board of Education. This is closely followed by the economic concerns that Michigan is facing, which impact education negatively. The advocacy for our students has never been more important.

How important is community input when making a decision that will impact students for years to come?

Community input is crucial for all decisions that impact students, and that begins with who they elect as their trustees to the Board of Education. The work ethic and level of involvement of elected officials is essential for our students and stakeholders. While community input is crucial, it is also important for the community and board members to understand that it is only one of many aspects in the decision making process.

Why did you choose to run for the board?

I am running for reelection to continue the work that I am already doing on behalf of our students and school district. I am able to give my full attention to my work on the Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education and other associations because it is my full time job. I am a Dragon by choice, and it has been my privilege to serve the community and schools that I LOve. It would be an honor to be reelected.


Misty Morris

Age: 40

Occupation: Realtor

Community/school involvement: Webber PTO, Webber Chair (Trunk or Treat), Yearbook committee, Mom to Mom event planner, participate in local Lake Orion community organizations (including: Lake Orion Lions baskets, VFW)

What do you consider to be the most important issue(s) confronting the school district?

The responsibility of not only keeping our kids safe but maintaining the educational standards that have made Lake Orion School District a desired (top) school.

How important is community input when making a decision that will impact students for years to come?

It is always important to listen to people that would like to talk about the situation, or issue at hand, that may impact the education of their children. However, because some individuals may not have a clear understanding of the state requirements and mandated policies, I, as a candidate will take their opinions into consideration as well as work directly with the other board members to arrive at what is the best solution for the children and staff in Lake Orion. The community is the reason the members are elected, you as a School Board member, become their voice.

Why did you choose to run for the board?

A need to support the community which follows with a need not only to support my family and friends. I hope that what I can contribute from my background involvement within the school district and the community can set forth an impact for the future educational decisions and allow us as community to uphold our distinctive reputation of being one of the best school districts in Oakland County.


Edwina Patterson

Age: 52

Occupation: Personal Excellence Life Coach and Doctoral of Education Candidate with a cognate in Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice.

Community/school involvement (i.e. PTO, Boosters, etc.): I have a passion for working with youth to pursue their goals beyond their sometimes-self- imposed limitations. It is with this passion and belief that I have committed my time by serving as a school volunteer for in school programs such as reading during Reading Month, mentorship and etiquette teaching, developing material and presenting during Black History Month, Volunteering as an athletic mom and countless other activities that would help promote the well-being of our Dragon Youth Community during the time my son has been a student in this district. I led the establishment of our Lake Orion Parents of African American Children Network. This network joins a host of other African American Parent networks throughout Oakland Schools established since 2007. We are an inclusive group of parents that have come together to promote a sense of community within the larger community and fill in the gap where our children need additional support.

What do you consider to be the most important issue(s) confronting the school district?

• Security and Safety:

Pandemic Management – Immediately assisting students, parents, and teachers in successful achievement in these unprecedented circumstances.

Ensure no child left behind nutritionally, academically, and socially.

Behavior Issues- Establishing and managing district wide processes and policies for bullying and school violence problems facing students and teachers.

• Culture and Diversity

Executing a Diversity and Inclusivity Plan for K-12 Schools – Establish and execute programs that provide learning and support for administrators, teachers, and students.

Curriculum Savviness- Policies in place to ensure the success of ALL students. (college bound and non-college bound including all ethnicities and genders)

Advocacy Consistency- Creating and Maintaining an environment where the students and teachers feel valued and heard.

Staffing- Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Teachers/Administrators – Greater emphasis on having faculty that reflects the student body demographics.

How important is community input when making a decision that will impact students for years to come?

The pride of every community starts with the care and education of their children. Our foundational structure of character and morals originates from home and is emphasized by the village of support we call community. There must be genuine engagement from the onset, which involves more than listening to a few that may be on your contact list, or just reading perspectives and concerns. It is more about making yourself available to LISTEN to what is troubling and concerning with empathy while communicating an honest path forward whether favorable or not.

Why did you choose to run for the board?

I am passionate about education and the achievement of academic excellence for my child and those within our community. I desire to add a Diverse Voice to continue the achievement of academic excellence in our schools. I am anxious to do the work alongside the other Board Members to ensure our district rises to the rankings of top 5 school districts in Michigan!

Do not count me OUT because I look different, count me IN because I am different!


Amy Denise Silvester

Age: 46 years old

Occupation: Owner of Love n’ Light Productions, LLC and the Author / Illustrator for The Tender Turtle Series of books. Amy Denise Silvester is a proud Veteran’s wife; happily married to Don Silvester. She is a mother of 5: Alex, 25, Ben, 23, Miranda, 22, Lauren,18, and Liam, 7. Amy Denise Silvester is an Oakland University Alumni.

Community/school involvement (i.e. PTO, Boosters, etc.): Amy Denise Silvester is an active volunteer in Lake Orion schools and the Lake Orion community. Amy Denise has been a Lake Orion resident for 23 years. Amy Denise Silvester has taught swimming at Lake Orion High School, Great Lakes Athletic Club and at Oxford Parks & Rec. Amy Denise is the founder of The Tender Turtle 5K, which is an inclusive charity run/walk/roll held in Downtown Lake Orion. Amy Denise is a volunteer at the DDA in Lake Orion. Amy Denise co-hosted/planned Babes on Broadway 2019, which benefited Love INC. Amy Denise is also recognized for “Happy Trail”, the 2020 Senior Signs for the LO graduates. Amy Denise Silvester is also a new member on the NOCC board.

What do you consider to be the most important issue(s) confronting the school district?

All learners must come first. A safe learning environment is paramount to our learners. Education is the most important tool we can give our children.

Maintaining our Lake Orion Schools high standards for an exceptional education for all learners is imperative. My two daughters, both are in college, they received a fantastic education in Lake Orion. I have my youngest son, a second grader, who deserves the same great education. I will make sure that all our children do. All learners, AP, IEP, OTEC, band members and athletes. All our Lake Orion students deserve an education that will benefit them and prepare them for their future endeavours.

Fiscal responsibility is extremely important to me. We need to live within our means. I will make sure we do this.

How important is community input when making a decision that will impact students for years to come?

Community, parental, student, faculty and administrative input must all be taken into consideration when making decisions that will impact our students. All functions of the Lake Orion School district and board need to be transparent and readily accessible to all Lake Orion district residents.

Why did you choose to run for the board?

I am running for Lake Orion School Board because I can help. I am open minded and believe in being creative when addressing the needs of our learners. I have a love for my community and it’s children. We have a lot of learning to do with all the changes that are happening currently. I will always put our learners first and be an active part of this process. I lead by example and if I see a need, I fill it. I keep my word. Go Dragons!


Scott Taylor

Age: 45

Occupation: Director of Business Development

Community/school involvement (i.e. PTO, Boosters, etc.): 45-year resident of Lake Orion, Blanch Sims, Lake Orion Middle School and Lake Orion High School Grad. Involved in Stadium, Blanche Sims and Oakview PTO programs. Father of 1 Oakview Middle Schooler and 1 Lake Orion High student, I was appointed to the Lake Orion Community Schools board of education in 2014 and have served for 6 years as Trustee, vice president and president. I sit on the Board Policy Committee, Lamp of Learning Committee as well as the Facility Liaison for the Board. Currently I am involved in the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce, local club soccer as well as local nonprofit endeavors to help make the world a better place for all of us.

What do you consider to be the most important issue(s) confronting the school district?

Number one issue for all public schools is the Budget. LOCS does an excellent job every year adapting to the funding provided by the state and always presenting a balanced budget. 2020/2021 may be the most trying time in our history with the pandemic and a huge economic shortfall at the state and federal level. I have experienced the budget process six times and have a strong understanding of the processes that need to be followed. How do we fix this issue? Contacting our legislatures and expressing that we want our schools properly funded. Every voice does truly count.

How important is community input when making a decision that will impact students for years to come?

I am constantly receiving community feedback and welcome this communication. The most important aspect of community communication is what is done with that feedback data. First, I determine if the feedback needs immediate attention and if it does I will share this information with the board and/or administration. Second, I use people’s opinion and feedback identifying a concern or issue when making decisions that affect students. I am an elected representative of the people and I take that responsibility very seriously. I have been very approachable, honest and collaborative with both the community and my peers over my 6-year tenure.

Why did you choose to run for the board?

I decided to run again this year because this is an unprecedented time for schools and life in general. The experiences that I have gained in the 30 years of my professional life, as an involved community member, son, brother, uncle, father, husband, friend and board member have given me the proper skills to continue serving the students and parents of Lake Orion. I will hit the ground running and continue the work that I have been involved with for over 6 years. Anybody that knows me knows that my first question to any plan is, what is best for kids? Please allow me to continue down the path of doing what is best for kids. Experience matters.


Janice Zale

Age: 37

Occupation: Licensed Assistant for Zale Group Wealth Management

Community/school involvement (i.e. PTO, Boosters, etc.): Blessings in a Backpack Lake Orion Steering Committee Member (since 2014), Blanche Sims PTO Vice President (2020-2021), Former Treasurer and Trustee for the Blanche Sims PTO (2018-2020), Former Library Board Member for Oakland Township (2012-2016), Dutton Farm Volunteer and Supporter (since 2010).

What do you consider to be the most important issue(s) confronting the school district?

The most important issue confronting our school district is getting our students back in the buildings in a safe and responsible manner. While COVID-19 continues, I will work with our administrators and teachers to find creative ways to bring our students back safely. These are not easy decisions, but my goal will be to help students and parents navigate these uncertain times and give them hope that we are #DragonStrong!

How important is community input when making a decision that will impact students for years to come?

I feel that community input is very important when making decisions. Transparency with our community is what builds trust. I will work for parents’ voices to be heard as they are the no. 1 advocate for their children.

Why did you choose to run for the board?

I chose to run because I want to be a part of helping our students, parents and staff during this time. I will be an advocate for our students, making sure they continue to get the best education so they are ready for their future. I will be an advocate for parents, letting them know their voice is heard. Finally, I want to safely get our staff and students back together and keep our school district great for years to come. Go Dragons!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.