Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Teacher runs for Seminole County School Board

"There comes a time when you have to make a decision, either to walk away and hope things fix themselves or take an active role in trying to make a positive difference."

This is Abby Sanchez' belief and the reason why she is running for a position on the Seminole County School Board District 3-she wants to make a positive difference.

Sanchez, who grew up in a Jewish household in Davie, Fla., has been on the "frontline" of the public school system as an elementary school teacher for 26 years. She knows what goes on behind the scenes. And she knows that there is much to be fixed and has the confidence that she will be able to help bring about changes. If elected, she will be the only teacher on the board.

"I'm hoping that our citizens in our county are realizing that it's time for change as we need a teacher to be on the school board. None of our current school board members have ever served as teachers and do not hold any current certifications as a teacher," said Sanchez.

Not only does she see what's happening from the perspective of a teacher, but as a parent too. Sanchez has three children who have been in the Seminole County school system. Not one to sit on the sidelines, she served as Lake Brantley PTSA president for seven years, and for the 2015-2016 school year she was PTSA Legislative chairwoman and first vice president for Lake Brantley. In this role, Sanchez spent four days in Tallahassee, on her own nickel, to address the recess bill, a task school board members should have been doing.

"I was speaking on behalf of all the counties," she told Heritage. "Currently, we have recess in our county, but there was a miscommunication somewhere, and many of our Seminole County schools were not giving their students recess."

In fact, Sanchez learned the schools were only giving them recess on non-PE days and also taking it away from the children for misbehavior and incomplete homework.

"Children need to be children. Everybody needs a brain break!," she said. "Other schools in other countries get brain breaks and recess all the way into high school and they are performing a lot better than we are."

Although the bill did not pass in Tallahassee, Seminole County upheld the rule. "Every student must receive 20 minutes of non-instructional playtime and they cannot be penalized for any reason," Sanchez stated. "I would eventually like to see this in upper grades as well."

As a member of the School Board, Sanchez will address the Common Core curriculum. "Bring back common sense and get back to the basics," she said. "Let the teachers teach!" Teachers are frustrated with having to teach subjects the "Common Core" way. It's like forcing the square block into the round hole. Sanchez firmly believes teachers should be able to "teach to the child-get to know each child and their strengths and weaknesses."

"We need to build a strong foundation for children by using different learning materials geared toward individual learning styles," she said.

Sanchez also sees the importance of implementing life skills classes-from CPR, financial planning, money management, cooking skills to job and college readiness skills. In addition, all schools should be monitored to make sure they are meeting the needs of children with unique abilities, as well as enhance enrichment activities for all students.

Sanchez stresses there needs to be financial accountability for county residents' tax dollars. There is too much wasted spending from unnecessary positions to unequal pay to eliminating programs. Principals are forced to have to choose what positions to keep, what positions to cut because of budget. Counselors are pulled from counseling students to oversee testing (teaching to the test) because there aren't enough teachers. Gifted teachers are shared among the schools, visiting classrooms maybe once every two weeks.

Another area Sanchez would like to see improvement is in communication. Solutions need to be developed to help enhance communications between SCPS and board officials; more parental and community involvement; and liaison between students, parents, teachers, bus drivers and support staff.

Despite many problems in the school system, Sanchez is positive. "My goal is to help facilitate positive change. I believe there are workable solutions available that will enhance our school system, and working with all sides is key to developing a solution," she stated.

This is a non-partisan race, and all registered voters are encouraged to vote on Aug. 30.


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