Meet Deborah Feldman-Kahn Candidate for Westfield Board of Education | #Education

Name: Deborah Feldman-Kahn

Age: 51

How long have you lived in Westfield? 12 years.

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What are your qualifications for office? As a Westfield parent, I am invested in the future of our children. I will be sensitive to the needs of the community and consider all perspectives. A board member should recognize those that are vulnerable and be their advocate. I have been a longtime advocate for medical resident education and a Girl Scout leader. I have experience on education committees, drafted curriculums and helped train over 100 practicing radiologists.

What would your top priorities be if elected to the school board? I will be supportive of programs that give girls a voice where female voices are not traditionally heard. I want the school to continue to be sensitive and aware of students who are struggling academically, socially or psychologically and to be able to be proactive. I will work with the board and support programs that further tolerance and empathy. I will be committed to transparency in government. I will support all students.

How would you work to promote diversity in Westfield public schools’ education? The Westfield school system has always been committed to promoting cultural empathy amongst its students. Nevertheless, recent events have shown us that we must do better.  I would like to see more people of color in the teaching roles. This is difficult to achieve but it should always be a goal.

Some of our educators participate in a program in conjunction with the National Holocaust Museum. We must continue this and look for other resources. We must do everything we can, to give our teachers the tools and education they need to help their students gain empathy for all people. I would love to see the high school elective in women’s studies, and additional literature on race relations, further integrated into the English and History courses across the years.

What are some of the challenges COVID-19 has brought to the district and how you would handle them? I think our current board of education, the administrators and our teachers have done an amazing job at following state, federal and medical guidelines to ensure the safety of our students.

But our students have been experiencing record levels of depression and anxiety and the current COVID-19 pandemic has made this worse. We need to continue to focus on student mental health.

I would like to see more resources go to the counseling departments to provide more services. For instance, currently, upper class students meet with and assist the 9th grade class in assimilating to high school life. Why not expand this idea to create counselor proctored groups for all the students that tackle timely issues and discuss mental health?

I would like to see younger students have the opportunity to meet with the counselors to play games and learn social skills. This would expand on current programming. When the counselors are able to see the students on a more regular basis, they are better able to identify students at risk and take the appropriate action.

School is not only about academics, and we must continue to fund the art programs, whether musical, visual or performing. This is a great stress reliever for many and is so important for the soul. Sports programs fulfill this role for other students and should continue to be supported.

Student well-being is an area that I know the schools have been taking very seriously. I would like the schools to have the resources they need to continue to do so.

What else would you like the readers to know? We are in the midst of impossible times right now. In a normal school year, the board has a full schedule addressing educational, social and financial concerns.  Now we have health concerns. I am ready to take on these new challenges and look forward to helping our children gain an education while navigating through this pandemic and afterwards. I truly believe that they will have “Bright Futures.”

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