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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 19, 2012
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
GUILDERLAND Christine Hayes is making her first run for school board because, she said, “I want to give back to the community and be a voice for the students.”
Hayes is a 1999 Guilderland High School graduate who went on to become a lawyer but then went back to school for teaching certification and recently completed her student teaching at Farnsworth Middle School.
She had worked as an attorney in private practice. “I loved the firm,” said Hayes, but she was intrigued with teaching, her mother’s profession. Hayes herself had worked as a teaching assistant before going to law school.
She is now certified to teach social studies in seventh through 12th grades. She currently does legal work for the Board of Cooperative Educational Services while working as a substitute teacher and looking for a full-time teaching job.
“I think teaching is my calling,” she said.
People have asked her why she is running for the school board if she doesn’t have children. “You don’t have to have kids to care about the schools,” said Hayes. “I care about my community and want to give kids a voice. I won’t have allegiance to any one school or any grade level. I’ll speak for them all, from the littlest to the biggest.”
Without hesitation, Hayes said that her primary allegiance as a school board member would be to the students. “They are in the schools every day and will be the future of our community,” she said. “They need lots of opportunities to explore…I want students to have the opportunities I did.
“That said,” she concluded, “it’s important to listen to all the perspectives.”
Hayes supports the $89 million budget proposition. “The board members were in a tough situation,” she said. “I was very happy they maintained the enrichment program,” Hayes said, noting the outpouring of support for the program.
With large classes, she said, “You don’t always reach the needs of the students at the high end of the spectrum,” she said, stressing that enrichment programs help fill those needs.
Hayes is also glad that the final budget proposal keeps the nine-period day at the middle school. “Tutorial can be used to supplement learning, to re-teach concepts, and to work across curricula,” she said. “It lets students see connections between their classes.”
She also noted that the tutorial period is used to provide services to special-education students and to students who are learning English as a second language.
While Hayes had no comment on the budget process, she was definite about the course to take if the budget were to be defeated on May 15. “I would put it up again, and try to inform more people,” she said.
“Not a huge number of people vote,” she noted. “People need to think about how it will effect the students.”
About whether, in the future, the board should go over the tax-levy cap to preserve programs, Hayes said, “As we all know, taxes in Guilderland are pretty high…Guilderland has been able to maintain art and music program that other districts have cut. I would do my best to stay under the levy limit. No one wants to see taxes continually go up, up, up.”
She concluded, “I would like to explore creative solutions.”
On giving raises, Hayes said, “Teaching doesn’t end at the school door. There’s a lot of planning and preparation. You serve as a role model. It’s a job you don’t leave on Friday when the bell rings.
“I don’t want teachers not to be given raises or people to decide not to go into the profession.” She went on, “We’ve fallen on tough economic times, and everyone has to pull together for the good of the community…We should explore as many avenues as we can. It shouldn’t fall all on teachers to make concessions, concessions, concessions.”
Hayes also said, “I came from working in private industry. Every year, you’re getting a raise. Teachers should be rewarded with the same thing, to keep hardworking teachers, and to attract new, bright minds.”
She concluded, “Contract negotiations are always difficult. Everyone has to compromise to make it work. People look at teachers [and see] they make up a good chunk of the budget…Without them, you have no product.”
On testing, Hayes said, “Evaluating students is important but there’s not a one-size-fits-all model…There are lots of different ways to evaluate students rather than sitting for three hours and taking a test.”
To properly evaluate a teacher through student testing, Hayes said, test results from the start of a year would have to be compared with test results at the end of a year. “Seeing improvement is important,” she said.
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