Ben-Naim: Why I’m Running For School Board

Ellen Ben-Naim, school board candidate for the Pinon District. Courtesy photo
 

By ELLEN BEN-NAIM
School Board Candidate, Pinon District

For the past 16 years, my family has benefited from our public schools and as a lifelong educator – I understand just how hard we must work in these tough financial times to keep our schools thriving.

We are fortunate to be represented by a teacher in the New Mexico State House, but it is time for our board to reflect our community’s commitment to education.

This December, I officially filed to run for the Los Alamos Public Schools Board in the Pinon District and I am excited for the opportunity to serve our students and families.

A little bit about me. I have a Master’s Degree in an education related field and have worked as an educator in formal and informal educational settings since 1988. Since moving to Los Alamos in 1996, I have been actively involved at each of the LAPS schools in professional and volunteer capacities.

As a JJAB (Juvenile Justice Advisory Board) Program Coordinator from 2012-2016, I actively collaborated with all the school principals and counselors to develop prevention and intervention programs to serve students and their families. In the process, I learned a great deal about each school and their successes and challenges as well as the important role of community partnerships in addressing issues that are outside of the school’s purview. During this time, I served on the LAPS Mental Health Design Team, the LAPS Budget Committee and most recently on the School Bond Committee and the LAHS Homework Committee. I have also participated in the Pinon Advisory Team, District Parent Council, GATE Advisory Committee, the Library Board and Leadership Los Alamos.

My love of this community and our schools is unwavering and I believe we are have a unique opportunity to ensure every student has the same advantages my three children have benefited from for nearly two decades.

In order to continue to meet the needs of our teachers and students, we must address some core issues.  

It is time for our School Board to fully commit to enacting every recommendation of the Mental Health Design Team Plan, which can be found here and more information here.  The safety of our students and faculty will depend on addressing stress, depression and suicidality amongst our youth.

It is time to fully support our teachers as they are under paid, given an ever increasing workload, and constantly under attack by the Public Education Department. Teachers need a positive work environment including a fair evaluation system with locally formulated criteria. I will advocate for measures that reduce teachers’ stress and foster their success and growth. LAPS teachers are among the best and brightest, and they are the gatekeepers to our children’s success.

It is time to better capitalize on our relationship with the County, LANL, and local nonprofits to help find solutions to alleviate the budgetary pressures that LAPS will be facing these next few years.

I am delighted with the path LAPS has taken to renovate and rebuild our schools. My children have greatly benefited from the new Middle School and High School buildings, and the new Aspen School facility has set a new precedent for excellence our elementary schools. I am a strong supporter of these efforts and plans to rebuild and renovate the remaining elementary schools. (By the way it’s not too late to turn in your School Bond / UNM -LA mil levy ballot.)

I have been speaking with students, teachers, parents and community members about their concerns, because each of these stakeholders are vital for strong schools.

I have additional ideas for supporting and improving our schools. Please visit my website ellen4lapsboard.com to learn more. You can also email at ellenbnschoolboard@gmail.com with your questions or concerns. The school board election is Feb. 7 and is an in-person election.

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