Residence: Marshalltown (22 years old)
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Pprofession: Bilingual school site coordinator
Education: Bachelor of Elementary Education, William Penn University
Family: Married (20), 3 children – Vanessa Ceren (22) – University of Iowa Alumni, Alonzo Ceren (19) – Sophomore at Iowa State University, Rogelio Ceren – Sophomore at MHS.
Experience: 4 years as a board member, 17 years as parents, former district employee for 12 years and community member for 22 years.
1. What do you think are the two most important issues that the Marshalltown Community School District will face during your tenure as a member of the school board? How do you plan to resolve these issues? With the uncertainty of the pandemic, keeping all of our students and staff healthy and learning will continue to be an issue our district must tackle. I believe our most important goal should be the success gap. This past year has been particularly difficult due to the pandemic, during which students have missed so much instructional time and our teachers are constantly catching up to try and achieve competence. The MCSD must not only work on the plan to accelerate student learning, but also on a plan to help our current teachers keep students engaged and learn in classrooms.
My plan is to continue to support our school professionals by pointing our district in the right direction to enable students to learn through personalized learning experiences. I want to continue to be part of the effort to close our achievement gap and support our teachers throughout the process. I am committed to ensuring that decisions are focused on student achievement and supporting staff. I would also see a stronger parent engagement effort by increasing communication and opportunities for parents to get involved.
2. What can the CMDD Board of Directors do to help the high number of open students enroll in other schools in the region? Our council needs a continuum of communication with our community about our district. Early outreach to our community preschools and daycare parents for a formal introduction to our district is a need. We need to give them the opportunity to tour our buildings and learn about the great things our district does and has to offer. I will continue to support the excellent work of sharing MCSD highlights through many channels of communication. Our district has so much to offer and we must work together to spread the word.
3. Student safety and parental confidence have been called into question by allegations of sexual misconduct against MCSD staff. Training has been provided and a new policy has been introduced since the incidents. In your opinion, is this sufficient? What other steps should be taken to address these issues? It is never enough, it must be a continuous effort of education for all. We need to build the confidence of our students and parents to report any allegations. I believe it is important to educate parents on how to talk to their children about this topic, what is appropriate behavior and what behavior is unacceptable from anyone of any age group. Staff training must also continue each year as a constant reminder of their expectations as professionals. Going forward, I believe in our staff and hope they are there to support and teach our students to reach their full potential.
4. Has the MCSD been effective in mitigating COVID-19? What went well and what still needs to change? MCSD has done its best to put in place appropriate measures to keep everyone safe by following CDC recommendations and providing protocols in our buildings. These efforts have helped spread in our district. MCSD has been proactive in focusing on students and staff during the school closure by offering distance learning. Resources and support were provided to the students to enable them to continue their learning. I believe there is room for improvement, if a shutdown were to happen again, but given the time they had to do it, they did it right.
5. Why do you think voters should support your candidacy for the school board? I love all aspects of education. I like to teach. I like to learn. I like to see others learn. It is gratifying to see our district and the community of Marshalltown move forward and be successful. As a board member, I know how important it is to look at the district as a whole. I also understand the importance of checking each box when making decisions to ensure the future success of our district. I am committed to our community. I believe that the diversity of our neighborhood makes us rich! Learning about other cultures and listening to different languages opens so many doors for students going to the world. I believe our district is heading in the right direction and I would like to be a part of the difference.