A conversation with a school board contender
June 29, 2018
Cade Resnick is a dreamer and visionary in the classroom and the community. "I see what I think would be amazing. If I can get other people on board with me, then we can do that!"
He has spent 16 years as a well-grounded economics and psychology high school teacher and served as a Winter Springs city commissioner. This combination of visionary, community service and teacher has a lot of impact on his students, and he hopes to make this impact on all the students and community in Seminole County schools in his bid for a seat on the Seminole County School Board District 1.
Resnick's motto is "Preparing today's kids for tomorrow's opportunities!" It isn't just a motto for him, it is what he practices every day in the classroom, his home and community.
Not a traditional teacher, he focuses on teaching his students important life lessons in fun ways that they can use beyond the classroom, and he listens to his students. "Kids are amazing thinkers. They come up with all kinds of ideas," he shared with Heritage.
Listening to students is extremely important to Resnick. Listening is how he builds relationships with the students, knows their concerns and issues. It's how to know what's going on in the school.
Heather Doyle, an elementary school teacher, is hopeful to have another teacher on the school board (former teacher Abby Sanchez is a school board member for District 3). "We need his voice at the county level to be a voice for students and teachers," said Doyle. "He understands the needs of students and teachers in the moment."
Doyle's daughter was in his AP psychology class two years ago. "She adores him," said Doyle. "He went above and beyond in mentorship. He is an adult his students trust for guidance."
Class size is an issue Resnick would like to address. Every teacher agrees it is easier to teach fewer kids. It's hard to listen to all the students if the classroom size is 30-35 students.
"An example is this," he stated, "If I'm talking one-on-one, I am building a relationship. If I present it to five people, it's a good conversation; 10 people, it's a talk; if I have a group of 20-25, then I'm talking to five and 20 students are doing something else. There is no relationship. As the class size gets bigger the ability to know students-be involved in their lives-is harder to do."
Resnick's solution to overcrowded classrooms is to cap the size to 25 for high school, 22 for middle school and 18 for elementary school at the end of the school year, and staff the school for the number of students before the start of the new school year. "Planning for 32 to 35, that's where the problem is," he stated.
Another issue close to Resnick's heart is teaching to the test. The way the school system is currently, teachers teach to the test in order to keep their jobs.
Resnick would like to eliminate testing. He is already in partnerships with the State of Florida and the legislature in improving statewide testing.
He would like to see the IOWA Assessment test reinstated. This test, given to kindergarteners-eighth graders in Iowa and other states, is used for guidance, to see where the students are.
"We need to have these conversations. If there is no real data [from the tests] showing students are learning, can't we just go back to teaching?" he asked.
Another area Resnick sees a need for improvement is preparing students for college when the majority of students are not college bound. More students are career bound and really need skills-based training, he explained.
Although Lyman High School has an engineering program and Seminole High has the health academy, Resnick would like to see these programs offered in all seven Seminole County high schools. He would like to see schools involved in working relationships with outside businesses so students can work in dual enrollment apprenticeship programs in 11th and 12th grade. He sees the possibility of infusing skills training into core curriculum and could bring this into fruition through the creation of local business/school relationships.
Phil Kraprow believes Resnick is a perfect fit for the school board in this dimension. "Cade has a solid background building community at the city level and will continue as a school board member for District 1," he told the Heritage.
Resnick said the business community keeps saying we need apprenticeships, and the way he sees it, once we start to talk about it and now have a platform to say it (the school board), with that platform others will begin to listen.
This is how Resnick thinks. Start by building communication. He gave an example of when he was a Winter Springs city commissioner.
In 2010, when he was elected to the city commission, he wanted to restructure all the park systems. Immediately the commissioners said they didn't have the money for that. "I'm not asking for money right now," he told them. "Let's start having a conversation. Let's develop a master plan, put it in perspective and see what will happen."
Now, eight years later, of the eight parks, five have been redone, the sixth is almost complete and seven and eight are on the next calendar year. "We didn't raise taxes or anything like that. Just a matter of as money comes in, put it into the project a little at a time," he said.
Let's talk about school safety infrastructure. Resnick sees clear answers to this problem. He is not in favor of arming teachers, but he believes in locking doors after school starts and using one entrance once the school day begins; have two School Resource Officers who walk the campus. "There is no reason to have them if they are sitting in an office drinking coffee." Visibility can curb a lot of possible problems-including drugs on campus. This includes the principal and teachers being visible and accessible on campus.
Resnick also believes more mental health counselors are needed on campus and much of his reasoning goes back to listening to the students. "We need to prevent as much as we can. Mental health counselors can find out what's going on in kids lives," Resnick shared. And when a student or teacher reports that something is going on with a student it needs to be taken seriously. This includes bullying.
"A lot of times the parents report [bullying] because the child is embarrassed to do so. We need to follow up," Resnick stated and then explained, "What if a parent tells the school and the school says 'ah, it's not that bad...' This invalidates you as a parent and tells the child 'your issue is not that big of an issue' and now the child thinks 'nobody cares about me.'"
The topic of Islam being taught in 10th grade World History came up. This is an issue that has many parents upset because it appears that there is more emphasis on Islam than Judaism and Christianity.
Resnick explained that teachers have to teach all of the content the state mandates. However, there are different ways to do it. One confusing problem for parents is that Judaism and Christianity are taught in seventh grade, with Islam following in 10th grade, which does make it look like only Islam is being taught. It would be best if all three could be infused continuously, Resnick shared. But as a teacher or a board member, he can't say don't teach this subject because it is a requirement set in place by the state.
What Resnick would like to see is the courses rearranged. Instead of having World History in seventh grade and then nothing about world history until 10th grade, teach world history in eighth and ninth grade so it is a continuous flow of history and will show a balance of the religion instruction.
Resnick is currently not affiliated with any congregation. He was raised in a Jewish family in South Africa and came to the US in 1991 when he was 15. He and his wife, Shawna, and their two children observe Shabbat at home.
Resnick has a lot of experience in the school system, the community and government, and he brings a lot to the table.
Cheering him on, Kaprow said, "On some levels, Cade relates to the challenges and dynamics of being an American Jew in 2018."
Voting for Seminole County school board members is on Aug. 28.