I first met Wanda when she invited me to speak to a grassroots community activist group in the East Valley. She organized the group in 2017 to advocate for community priorities. By the time I met with them, the group had nearly 400 activist members and a long string of accomplishments including collecting donations for refugee families, promoting voter registration, contacting elected officials, protesting over various civil rights issues and hosting various speakers (Black community activists, LGBTQ activists, foster care advocates, and the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative folks, to name a few). Wanda’s commitment to her community and to public education were evident, as was her leadership and organizational skills. I have no doubt that those skills, along with her wide variety of experience in education, business and justice, will serve the Kyrene community exceptionally well. I am happy to endorse her candidacy for the Kyrene School Board.
I have known Wanda Kolomyjec for nearly 25 years in her role as a mother, educator, entrepreneur and a community member working for positive change.
Wanda has spent her life working to promote and support the social interests of others. She has a strong passion for education, which is reflected in her own personal endeavors. More importantly, Wanda has a selfless commitment to promote education and opportunity for others.
To make change, you must have the courage to act. Wanda is a fearless leader and her commitment to the education of all children is unwavering. She recognizes we are all better when every child has access to a good education, the systems are in place to support their social needs, with resources available to provide for their health and wellness.
Without hesitation, I am confident Wanda would be an exceptional school board member. With Wanda, our community and the children will have a tireless worker and fearless leader.
Dr. Wanda Kolomyjec has been a dedicated educator for close to 20 years.
An Ahwatukee resident with her family for almost 26 years, Dr. Kolomyjec has been a high school science instructor, a university professor of Justice Studies and Professional Development, and a site-based council member at her children’s schools in the Kyrene School District.
A believer in public service and moving things forward, she would like to take her experience and skills as both an educator and a chief operating officer of her family’s business to the Kyrene School Board in January 2021. Believing that “excellent schools, available to all children in all zip codes, is the key to a healthy democracy,” she feels her presence on the board will have a positive forward influence on the community.
If elected to the board, Dr. Kolomyjec will “advocate for public schools and fight for them.”
As a board member, she will fight for more funding for schools and quality educational programs that all children will benefit from.
Dr. Kolomyjec graciously took the time to discuss her candidacy for the Kyrene School Board.
The questions and her responses are below.
“I am impressed by the quality of the members who currently reside on the board. I have attended school board meetings in-person and I have observed a few meetings on-line. I believe that they model how citizens with varying viewpoints and political backgrounds are able to discuss important topics respectfully despite their differences in ideology. They keep in the forefront of the conversation the goal that each of them is tasked with: How to create excellent schools for Kyrene families. Each may have a different vision of how to get there, however, they seem to artfully meld their distinctive visions towards a common goal. This is a lost art in many of our institutions and personal relationships today and they demonstrate the possibility of respectful deliberation.”
“It has been eight years since my last child attended Kyrene schools. My first task has been to speak with parents, administrators, district staff, and teachers about education issues that they are concerned about. It is important for me to hear from different perspectives on the issues, especially since I have been somewhat removed from the daily interaction with district people. My efforts to connect have been somewhat curtailed due to the pandemic. I understand that most district people are stretched very thin right now, either as a parent who has suddenly been thrust into the role of home educator, as an educator who must master the art of online teaching or as an administrator or district staff member who is faced with a myriad of challenges that the pandemic has created.”
“Therefore, I believe the most predominant challenge is navigating the proper course of action during a pandemic that seems difficult to predict. Of course, everyone wishes to return to normal. However, it will be imperative for the district to weigh carefully the benefits of returning to school versus the potentially devastating health consequences our community may suffer if we move too quickly. This issue, I believe, will eclipse all other issues facing the Kyrene community.”
“However, before the pandemic hit when I spoke with stakeholders, the other major issues that were on people’s minds was proper funding of education, out of boundary students, and the efficacy of “Choice” programs in the district. Interestingly, I believe that all three issues are bound together.”
“Arizona poorly funds public education. That is an objectively true statement when we compare our funding to other states in the country (and our country to other democratic countries). It is also objectively true when you compare it to the cost of private education. To say that money doesn’t matter in producing quality education is simply disingenuous when you consider the two examples I just offered.”
“Public schools are trying very hard to compete with private and charter schools to retain and attract students. In my perfect world, public schools would be funded to the level that would permit them to deliver on the contract that democracy promises: an excellent education for each child in the country at every neighborhood school. Currently, our democracy fails on this promise. Public schools are forced to compete with deep-pocketed private schools, and also with charter schools that may creatively design barriers for many students to ensure a “good fit” with their program. Public schools do not have this luxury and must attempt to deliver on democracy’s promise of providing an excellent education on a shoestring budget all the while attempting to reinvent itself to be competitive. The educating of our country’s promising young people should not be a competition, in my opinion. It should be a collaboration.”
“Therefore, the three most important education issues are: dealing safely and effectively with the effects of the pandemic, school funding (which is really a federal and state issue), and balancing the incongruous goals of maintaining great neighborhood schools with the reality of attracting and retaining students in the school district.”
“I have an undergraduate degree in biology. Therefore, I look at the return to “normal” through a biological lens. Following the recommendations of health experts and keeping a watchful eye on other countries who are a month or two ahead of the United States for guidance on dealing with the pandemic will provide us with needed guidance on reopening schools.”
“To the absolute fullest extent. To demand that students learn remotely but not have access to broadband and a computer is akin to demanding a surgeon perform brain surgery without surgical instruments. “
“My advice would be to trust teachers and to keep the mental and physical health of the children as the foremost important consideration. Teachers have demonstrated their incredible skills and adaptability in a very challenging environment. We should turn to them for guidance on how to move forward and then support them fully in their plans. I also think that we should bear in mind that the pandemic has opened up new possibilities in the way that we think, and what our priorities are. As horrible as the outbreak has been, we have also seen some amazing innovations and new ways of thinking about what is important. I am hoping that we don’t simply go back to “normal”. Rather, I hope we remember and embrace some of those innovations when we return to everyday life and incorporate that spirit going forward. Extending the school year may be an option to consider.”
“Young people hold the promise for our future and teachers are tasked with nurturing it. Every person in society should cherish both.”