Debora Scheffel considers herself a career educator. After graduating from the University of Denver with a master’s degree in special education, she served as a special education teacher at Northeast Elementary School in Parker.
She earned …
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Debora Scheffel considers herself a career educator. After graduating from the University of Denver with a master’s degree in special education, she served as a special education teacher at Northeast Elementary School in Parker.She earned a doctorate at Northwestern University in Illinois and worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California San Diego, where she studied how language and learning influence each other. She has also worked in New York as a rehabilitation program coordinator and in rural schools in Kansas.Scheffel, 63, represented Colorado’s 6th Congressional District on the Colorado State Board of Education for six years after being elected in 2010. In 2016, she narrowly lost her re-election bid to Rebecca McClellan.The Parker resident serves as the dean of Colorado Christian University’s School of Education.As part of the four-person Elevate Douglas County slate, Scheffel will be running for the seat in District G, which includes the areas in and around Parker. District G is currently held by school board President Meghann Silverthorn.Silverthorn is term-limited — elected in 2009 and 2013, she will have served eight years come November— and cannot run again.Why did you decide to run?I’ve lived in Douglas County a long time and Douglas County gave me my first job. I want to ensure that the district is doing the best it can for kids and families in the county. I’ve seen a lot of angst and things go on that may not serve our community the best and I would love to be part of the solution of addressing some of the things that have been going on the last couple of years. I just know that teachers are key to a great school district and that parents have a huge investment in ensuring their students have a wonderful experience. I would like to be part of making that happen in Douglas County.What are the most important issues facing the school district?The negativity on the board has been an issue. I think that we have to have civil discourse and serious conversations about how best to serve the needs of every student, but we need to do it in a way that is professional and civil and keeps children and students in the forefront of every discussion. Really, I think that’s number one. Ensuring that people have a voice and that there’s a lot of listening going on. I really think that restoring trust in the board and respect in the community is one of the main priorities we need to address first.The board has been divided in recent years. How would you help bridge that divide?Listening is really a first step. I always think that in any new situation, a lot of listening needs to go on. How have people experienced the policies of the board? What do they like? What do they not like? How are things being implemented? I think there are lots of concepts that can sound good in concept, but once they get implemented they don’t work so well for individuals. So we need to hear from teachers and principals and find out what their perspective is. Look at the curriculum and how that works. I’ve heard from some that the curriculum hasn’t really served the needs of the students well. So that certainly needs to be a focus. So, lots of listening to the community. What are the needs? And restoring respect and civility and kindness to interactions.Would you be supportive of a bond or mill levy to bring more funding to the district?I think that the district needs to look at the budget first to determine if there are areas where there could be savings. I think they have identified $20 million or something close to that in savings. I would like to really look at the budget in depth and really determine how our funds are being spent. Are there efficiencies that could be implemented before we start asking the public for more money? So, I would be in wait-and-see mode.What do you want people to know about you?I would like people to know that first and foremost, I’m an educator. I’m a teacher. I’m still licensed in the state of Colorado in a couple of different areas, primarily in special education. That is where I started my career.I went into education for the same reasons most teachers go into education, because they believe in the power of education. It’s the future of our nation and it’s essential to our district.I’m primarily an educator, and policies, whatever they may be or sound like, have to work for individuals — individual teachers, individual students and individual parents and families. That’s really been my foremost commitment to education since I started.
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