Blossom J. Twitchell
How many years have you lived in Sitka and in Alaska? 25
Family: I am a mother of three children. Teslin is 10 years old and in 5th grade. Lucca Bea is 8 years old and in 3rd grade and my son Allistair is 14 years old and is in 9th grade. I have recently married, together we love being apart of the community of Sitka.
Occupation: I work for Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska as a Workforce Development Specialist.
Community involvement, past and present:
I’ve held various positions on a number of boards over the years. The Greater Sitka Arts Council, Braveheart, Youth Advocates of Sitka, and The Island Institue and the Friends of Sheldon Jackson Museum to name a few. In recent years, I decided to focus on my children. Currently, I was appointed to the School Board. If elected, that will be my primary focus.
Previous government or other relevant experience:
As an MEHS graduate, we were taught to know how important it was to be involved in our communities. Being Alaskan Native, I have always made it a point to know our current affairs. I have extensive experience administering goverment grants and social programs. When SJ was open, I obtained a Villiage Management Certificate which covered everything from grant writing to Tribal & Federal relations. I am currently a citizen of Sitka Tribe of Alaska.
Why are you running for a seat on the Sitka School Board this year?
As a parent of children attending classes within the Sitka School District, I find it fitting that I would run. It is imperative that parents have a say in the direction of our children’s education. I believe my concerns echo many parents within our school district. If elected, I would represent various families found within Sitka.
What are your top two priorities if elected?
As a sitting member of the current Sitka School Board, my priorities would include: Hiring a Superintendent and overseeing the continued growth of our schools social emotional learning and being trauma informed. As for funding, I am an avid supporter of knowing our funding sources and advocating for the highest percentage of available funding (Local, State and Federal).
Do you agree/disagree with the safety thresholds established by the District Office for bringing students back into school? Are they too strict, or not strict enough? As a board member, would you recommend any changes?
I am extremely proud of our Smart Start Plan. The hours of planning and implementing our plan has been immense and the hard work shows. Our schools are currently in the Green. I believe our Interim Superintendent John Holst, along with the countless members of our community who formed the Smart Start Task Force, did an amazing job giving our families options. We have faced unprecedented times, I think we will grow and be amenable to change if it is needed.
Transitioning from Smart Start to ongoing education
The Smart Start plan recommends as much in-class time as possible for student success. If the pandemic continues through the 2020-21 school year, how would you weigh student success against staff safety?
Our teachers safety is priority number one for me. Without our teachers, we wouldn’t have any student success.
Should the superintendent hire process move forward under the current circumstances? What are you looking for in a superintendent?
Yes the hire process needs to move forward, time is not a luxury. I am looking for a leader who can continue to unite our schools. A successful superintendent is one who knows how to effectively communicate with our principals and school board. I want someone who is a forward thinker and is aware of the social needs of our community.
Historically, the Sitka School Board has been focused on educational equity and closing the achievement gap between Native and non-Native students. How would you keep this issue in your sights during the district’s ongoing pandemic response?
As an Alaskan Native, this has always been in my sight. As a parent of children who are Indigenous, I believe growth in this area is a necessity. We need policy that reflects acceptance and advocacy. As a current sitting School Board member, I have been impressed with the overview of policy changes that reflect cultural education/awareness. I believe we can continue to grow the relationship with the local tribal governments as well as advocating for the continued growth of Sitka’s Native Education Program. When we have teachers and parents understanding each other, our children will benefit, which means our community will benefit.
Racial and social justice are part of our national conversation right now. Should education on these issues be incorporated into the district’s curriculum?
I believe it is our duty to raise our children to be capable of deep conversation. With that being said, I support curriculum changes that our community calls for.