Why I am running for St. Paul School Board

This has been a tough year of transition for the Saint Paul School Public School district. I have the community knowledge and professional experience in education to help bring the District and its stakeholders back together.

I will work to:

  1. Bring staff together and improve relationships with administration;

  2. Keep children and equity at the center of our decision-making and help the system to be more responsive;

  3. Increase parent and family engagement so kids and families can better navigate the system to find success.

Campaign Co-Chairs​

  • Mary Vanderwert, Board Member, St. Paul Public Schools

  • Jane Prince, City Council Member, City of St. Paul

  • Melvin Carter III, Former City Council Member, City of St. Paul

“If you can see it, you can achieve it.”

--Jeanelle Foster

My Motivation
I know personally and in my professional life that Saint Paul Schools can serve all kids and serve them well. I wouldn’t be standing here today if St. Paul schools didn’t work for kids like me.


As a lifelong resident of Saint Paul, I can say that this community and the school district have served me well. I know these students’ stories because they are also mine.


I have overcome many barriers to find success. I had my first child at age 16 and I raised her and her brother alone. We had lived in a cycle of abuse with very few resources. There were times when I didn’t know how my kids and I would make it, but we did. We are resilient. Support of the community and the schools, coupled with my belief in the power of education, allowed me the chance to succeed. It inspires me to help other families to find a similar success.


I want to challenge the notion that poor kids with many barriers can’t make it.  I would not be here today if they could not. I know it is important for you to see me today—just as it is important for our students to see people like me serving them in a leadership capacity.


This is a pivotal time for SPPS. We need to select our next superintendent. How the Board selects and hires a superintendent, and how we engage our families and communities are all critical decisions that we must make.


Because of my own life experiences, my deep knowledge of the larger community, my Master’s degree in Education, my professional experience starting out as an early education teacher trying to meet the needs of immigrant students, and my experience at Wilder working with families frustrated by lack of access to the system, I have a tremendous amount to offer. I fundamentally understand kids and families in our school system today and I know what our system needs to do to better support them.


I have the professional expertise to bring to the table at a time when we need leadership and educational experience. I have worked for 25 years to help kids and families find success in our system and to teach them how to leverage the system to work best for kids and our community. I can also help the systems folks, our administrators and staff, adapt and change to better meet the needs of our students and their families so all families are represented.


The previous administration had good intentions but they fell short on implementation. Implementation is one of my strengths. For the last 10 years, I have been working with families and kids to best determine the approach needed to help a child find success, to establish a plan for that child, identifying steps to implement it well, measure the outcomes and hold ourselves accountable.


The District’s focus on equity included some constructive elements. We must, as a District, plant a firm stake in the ground around race and disparities. I applaud the City and County for now looking at these issues and working to tackle them head on. However, the District must continue to lead and we must be a partner of theirs in striving to interrupt systemic and institutional racism.


We now have an opportunity to look ahead and be forward thinking. We have a choice to learn from our past and move forward. We can maintain our commitment to serving all students and we can work to ensure that all students have equal chances. We need to strengthen relationships between teachers, staff and the administration so our goals and efforts are all aligned. We need to get parents and guardians to be involved in their children’s education and we have to teach parents how to best navigate the system to help their children as no one can educate a child without their parents or significant adults being involved. We also should be able to quantify our outcomes to hold ourselves accountable and to make sure we are getting the results our kids need. Our city and our school community must continue to develop a Board with the courage to change course when student outcomes call for it.


I am uniquely qualified to move the District forward at this time because of my life experiences, my community involvement and my commitment to education. I am a parent, a graduate, a community member, and an educator—and I am ready to serve.