A Lansing military contractor said he had for years thought about making the leap from school parent to school board.
But the timing didn't seem quite right for Garrett Martin to make a run for the Lansing School Board until now, with the coursework portion of his doctoral work in education done.
Martin said he has a daughter currently enrolled at Lansing Middle School and two other children at Lansing Elementary School. Serving on the middle school site council has given him an inside look at the Lansing district. With the construction of a new high school facility and a renovation of the current high school for a new life as a middle school underway, however, Martin also said he decided now was the time to try to have a more hands-on influence on the district moving forward.
“As a former information technology guy, I've kind of seen some of the IT issues that the school district has,” he said. “I wanted to have an ability to influence where that money was going to be spent and make try to make sure it was spent in the right place at the right time.”
Martin said he has worked on an IT staff for schools before, in the Manhattan, Kan., public school district. It gave him good experience in working with school officials in addition to a look at the challenges facing schools as it relates to technology.
Martin said he also sees value in integrating technology into the classroom, especially because those sorts of skills will be likely become more and more valuable to the district's students in the coming years.
“I'd certainly like to see certified computer teachers in the elementary schools,” he said, to teach skills like formating and writing letters that they'll need in adulthood.
Martin also suggested that the district look into mentoring programs to give students an inside look at some of the careers they are interested in pursuing.
But no technology can replace the work of teachers, and Martin said he felt it was important for the district to take steps to retain its quality faculty.
“You got somebody who wants to do something, you're going to see an improvement in their job performance,” he said.
Martin admitted that new initiatives are tough to see through during a time when the state government is cutting education funding. But he said it's up to the school board to lead the way, finding ways to create the opportunities they want to see for students. Martin said he would be interested in either hiring a grant writer for the district or ask for volunteer help from the district community in pursuing some grant funding sources.
“I think there's always an opportunity somewhere,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - There are other things he said would not cost money. Currently, Martin said the parent teacher organizations in the Lansing district are robust, which could help in some of those goals. But Martin said if elected he would try to bring more parents into the mix, and in new ways, like a welcome committee for incoming parents to mirror that for students.
Asked about his own attributes, Martin said he feels his management skills, experience and education allow him to be able to keep the role of the school board member in perspective in planning for the long-range and serving the constituents.
“Those are the things, I think, that make me a good candidate,” he said.