After Federal Way Public Schools extended the deadline for the vacant board director position three times, two candidates have applied for the seat by the May 3 deadline.
Claire Wilson resigned from the director position at a Feb. 23 school board meeting, one month after she was sworn into office as the 30th District state senator.
The two applicants for the open seat include Claudette Cooper, a longtime health care worker and parent; and Jennifer Jones, a tenured faculty member at Highline College and parent.
The Mirror obtained both candidates’ applications from the district via a public records request.
Cooper holds a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of Washington. She spent the first 24 years of her health care career at UW Medicine, and has been employed by King County Public Health for the past three years.
The mother of two has also served as a PTA member for nine years at Valhalla Elementary.
In her application, Cooper explained that the importance of supporting students became even more apparent in 2010 when she enrolled her first child in kindergarten. She noted that children are entering Federal Way schools with unequal preparation.
“Some are already reading while others have not even see the alphabet,” Cooper wrote. “We know this sets the stage for the rest of their academic careers. How do we even that playing field? … I know this board and Dr. [Tammy] Campbell are committed to this achieving equity and social justice in our schools and I would be greatly honored to be a part of that process.”
In her letter of recommendation, Valhalla Elementary principal Erika Rudnicki emphasized Cooper’s experience in organizational leadership and her work with public organizations. She is a member of the King County Public Health leadership team and chair of a University of Washington Internal Review Board Committee. As a registered nurse, Cooper has served as a staff nurse, a nurse manager, regulatory consultant and a Department of Surgery project manager, Rudnicki said.
“As a result of her background and experiences in the medical field as well as her active participation and involvement in the school setting, she brings a great deal of knowledge regarding integrating health care services with schools, and she is passionate about the integration of services we can facilitate for all families,” Rudnicki wrote.
Jones holds a PhD in geography from the University of California. For the past 21 years she has worked as a professor of geography and global studies at Highline College.
Jones, whose child went through FWPS from elementary to high school, has also served as a member of the Star Lake Elementary PTA and Thomas Jefferson High School’s Raider Parent Movement.
As a full-time faculty member at Highline College, Jones said she is “deeply committed” to the concept of public education.
“I love teaching and I understand the challenges that educators face, as well as the issues confronting our educational system today,” Jones wrote in her application, noting that her work as a professor is informed by her belief that education is the primary key to success for the people in the community. Jones added that educational policies should rely on methods and standards that have been shown to help students succeed.
Alice Madsen, dean of instruction at Highline College, commended Jones for her dedication to students, noting that her students “speak highly of her and comment on the transformational learning experiences that she facilitates.”
Madsen added that Highline College, like FWPS is home to a rich diversity of students, and “Jones is respectful and responsive to every student and practices an inclusive mindset.”
In addition, Madsen said Jones contributes to the college in many ways, “perhaps none more significant than mentoring new faculty.”
The FWPS Board will interview the candidates at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 13 at the FWPS Educational Service Center.
Action on candidate selection will be taken at the special board meeting on May 13 at the service center.
The selected candidate will take their oath of office on May 14.