ELECTION 2021: Meet the Candidate — Deborah Low, Board of Education

Bio

Debbie Low was elected to the Board of Education in 2017 and elected Chair in 2019. She was Superintendent of the Ridgefield School District for eight years. She worked for 20 years in Wilton public schools, serving as WHS principal and district assistant superintendent.

Under Debbie’s leadership, the Wilton BOE has worked as a non-partisan team to define strategic goals, evaluate progress, support new programs, set policies, and advocate for necessary resources. Last year, teamwork was especially important as the Board focused on providing a quality experience for all students while ensuring their safety and working within the extraordinary confines of the global pandemic. The Board continues to focus on priorities such as a strengthening the math program, improving communication and producing fiscally responsible budgets.

Op-Ed

It’s been an honor to serve on the Board of Education, including the privilege of serving as Chair for the past two years.   I am proud that our Board works as a collaborative, non-partisan team.

I am proud that the Board’s oversight for the past four years has been successful in several areas.     For one, our schools are regularly recognized for excellence in a wide range of areas:   academics, college attendance and graduation rates, the arts, and athletics, to name a few. In addition, the Board has consistently proposed reasonable budgets that both meet students’ needs and are fiscally responsible.   Another success is the creation of the Community Steps and Genesis programs, in-district programs for students with special needs.  The programs have yielded positive results for students and have avoided costs of more expensive and often less effective out-placements.    Also, the district has heightened focus on the social and emotional needs of students, realizing that attention to those needs increases students’ ability to learn.    Finally, I am proud that our Board helped ensure students were safe and engaged in learning in the radically different school environments necessitated by the global pandemic.

Moving forward, we must address the unfinished learning caused by COVID last year.   I support the district’s plan of “Accelerated Learning” which keeps students on-track with grade level material while addressing learning gaps from last year in an efficient way.

High academic achievement for all students is always top priority for me.  Our standardized assessment results are strong, but they could be even stronger.  The scores are just a snapshot; more important is the work to improve the learning.  I support continuing the improvement plans for math; they have yielded good results for the early grades.  We have added math interventionists at Cider Mill and made changes to the math course sequence at Middlebrook.  I will focus on data analysis to determine the effectiveness of improvement initiatives so that all students are challenged and achieve at high levels.

Another academic goal is to narrow the achievement gap between general education students and special education students.  The district has recently expanded early literacy support strategies and assessments and also is revising some courses at the high school to more completely align with high standards.   My job on the Board is, again, to determine the effectiveness of these efforts.

As a Board member, I will plan for the future.  Last spring, the Board approved the Portrait of the Graduate, which details the skills and attributes we wish for all students when they graduate.   The POG was a multi-year project involving parents, students, faculty, BOE members, and community members.  The group process resulted in a shared vision of qualities critical to student success in a fast-changing, often uncertain, global environment.      The next steps are the exciting challenge:   matching the curriculum, instruction, assessments, courses, projects, teacher training, etc. to these multi-faceted aspirations.  This endeavor will need continued involvement from parents, students, and the community in addition to the faculty and BOE members.   I will commit to this vital, complex team work.

As a Board member, I will advocate for the resources necessary for a high-performing district:  reasonable class sizes, rigorous and comprehensive curriculum, support for social-emotional needs, a world-class faculty, expert staff training, parent partnership, community support, and a clear vision for the future.   Our students deserve nothing less.