The Cambrian asked the four candidates on the ballot for three seats on the Coast Unified School District board for 300-word statements with a few words about why they are running, their experience and how it would make them a better trustee, as well as what they see as major challenges to the district and what their priorities will be. They appear here in the order they appear on the ballot. Questions for the candidates and their answers appear on Page 3.
Judith A. Hillen
The role of a school board member is to provide thoughtful leadership and wise counsel to the district while being mindful of the needs and interests of its students, teachers and parents. I am running for Coast Unified School District Board Trustee because I believe I can add value to the complex process of making sure that the best interests of our students are foremost in our decision making.
Both my academic background and professional experience contribute to my qualifications to serve Cambria as a school board trustee. My education includes a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees with an emphasis in mathematics and science education.
My professional history includes more than 20 years of teaching experience at both the elementary and university levels. I also directed a curriculum design and dissemination program for a nonprofit organization and led a national teacher leadership training program in mathematics and science. Currently I serve as a mathematics education consultant providing teacher seminars nationwide.
Major challenges facing this district include sound fiscal management, consensus building and open communication, and creative solutions for curriculum and personnel. Our first priority should be our students and all decisions should be made with that in mind.
As a member of the community with family attending our schools, I care deeply about excellence and innovation in academics as well as sports and the arts. I would be honored to serve the community of Cambria and grateful for your vote.
The biggest challenge the Coast Unified School District faces, both today and into the foreseeable future, is the continuing cuts to our funding. These cuts permeate every aspect of our overall business, including, but not limited to, labor negotiations, class instruction, second-language proficiency, special education, support services from transportation to counseling, and possible lay-offs. In addition, the proposed Cayucos territory transfer would squeeze us even more by eliminating over $1.2 million of funding annually.
In spite of the fiscal difficulties, our school district must continue the business of providing the best education possible to all students. My desire is that every child be provided the opportunity, skills and knowledge to become productive, confident and successful adults, and that the experience of this education inspire them to be lifelong learners. Our district has been providing this, with excellence, for years. I have personally witnessed it through the education that my two adult daughters received K-12 here in CUSD.
My commitment to maintaining and furthering this excellence led me to pursue the role of trustee for Coast Unified School District. I have enjoyed the last eight years in this capacity. For seven of those years I also served on the countywide ROP Board. Being a member of these school boards is multi-faceted , personally challenging, and entails continual learning. It requires strong analytical skills in order to make sound decisions. One must have a solid understanding of the role of a trustee, that the Board governs as a collective body, not as individuals. And most of all, it is imperative that the focus and priority always be on the students.
I am proud of all that our district offers. And if elected again, I pledge to continue the teamwork necessary to work toward the future — training “Tomorrow’s Leaders — Today.”
The children of our community are our most important assets. They are our future. All children have the right to a well-rounded and complete education. Teachers need the ability to teach their curriculum with all of the financial, technical, administrative and community support possible. I am seeking this position as a CUSD trustee so that I would be able to use all of my experiences in life and education for the benefit of the Cambria student population.
After earning my Masters of Arts degree and teaching credentials I continued with many additional units of study at the university level beyond my degree. Over a period of 33 years I have taught at the middle school, high school, college and university levels. I have additionally served administratively as a principal and chairman of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Paso Robles High School, and as chairman of the Fine Arts Department at Taft College. I hold a valid single-subject teaching credential and a lifetime community college credential.
I have served on many nonprofit committees and others that supported the educational process. Locally I coach multiple youth sports, work as a leader with Cub Scouts, and serve on the School Site Council for Cambria Grammar School. I am a Cambria resident of 13 years, have two children in our schools, and work occasionally as a substitute teacher still enjoying the interaction with the students and the educational environment.
The wealth of experiences I bring to this position will allow me to view all situations with open-mindedness, use merit-based decision making, consider input from all sources equally, apply fiscal restraint and seek fairness and integrity in our educational process. I would honor your trust in me for this important position, and would appreciate your vote.
Public schools are the foundation of our democracy. Public education is precisely where we gain training as citizens. Our diversity in Cambria is a potential for a breakthrough in education. I am running for school board because I bring experience, training, and a personal commitment to promoting and preserving public education.
My focus as a school board member will be to listen to the community: parents, students, teachers and community members. Together, we can solve our problems to help our students, every one of them, do their best. I am a third-generation teacher with a strong academic background: B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in modern European history. When I was a substitute teacher at Coast Union High School and an art appreciation teacher at Cuesta College, I participated in the digital revolution.
I taught Advanced Placement (AP) history and AP English at Taipei American School and helped implement an international program helpful to English language learners there. I meet people from all over the world as a guide at the Hearst Castle and share our Central Coast story. As a team player with a positive attitude, I am a good listener.
Accounting and budget analysis are skills I learned while I co-owned successful art galleries on Maui. I am trained in building consensus for decision making through my board experience at two galleries and an art education institution.
Cambria’s schools are important to all of us who live here. Our schools have strong positive factors, but I would like to fortify our community’s commitment to solving the many problems we face. Let’s address chronic underfunding and the need for training in critical thinking. Come to school board meetings and voice your concerns. I want your vote for school board to help create a widespread understanding of the issues faced in today’s classrooms.