Considering your personality, background, and past experiences, what are your greatest assets that you will bring to the HPISD Board of Trustees?
Sam Dalton's Answer:
I believe the greatest assets I will bring to the HPISD Board of Trustees are: (i) familiarity with the key issues facing the district over the next few years, (ii) business and professional experience -- including experience serving on numerous boards and committees, and (iii) commitment to the HPISD schools and our students.
I am familiar with the key issues facing the HPISD because I have been in the trenches dealing with these issues. I currently serve on the HPISD Finance Committee (along with all of the current Trustees) and have participated in discussions regarding the impending state cuts in education funding and the impact upon our district. I recently served on the HPISD Demographic Advisory Committee -- a committee consisting of parents and community leaders selected by the HPISD principals and administration -- where we studied demographic trends in the district and made recommendations to the Board regarding how to deal with the growth in our student population. In 2008, I served on a HPISD strategic planning team (along with current HPISD Trustee Joe Taylor) which studied how to maximize resources in our district, focusing primarily on private gifting.
My business and professional experience consists of nearly 16 years of practicing law at two major Texas firms, and over 8 years of managing investment portfolios. During my 16 years of commercial litigation experience I dealt with complex issues and sought to reach practical solutions on a daily basis. I continue to do this in my current job. As for board service, for the last 5 years I have served on the Board of the Highland Park Presbyterian Day School, dealing with education-related issues albeit on an admittedly smaller scale. I served on the Day School Board with current HPISD Trustee Kelly Walker for several years prior to her election to the HPISD Board.
My commitment to the HPISD schools and our students stems primarily from the fact that I have four kids currently attending schools in the district. Sam Jr. and Loring are students at HPHS, Katie attends HPMS, and William attends Armstrong Elementary. This commitment is a family commitment, with my wife Carol having served as PTA President of HPMS, serving as co-chair of Mad for Plaid this coming year, and volunteering on a weekly basis at our kids' schools. Having been married for nearly 20 years, Carol jokes that she gives me the mom perspective on a daily basis.
Those that know me will tell you that I have several traits that will make me an excellent HPISD Trustee. My friends consider me bright, hard-working, goal-oriented, outgoing, friendly, fair and committed to whatever task I take on. I am a leader and a consensus builder. I make a point of listening to others and trying to understand their perspective, even if I disagree with them. I am decisive and have no problem making difficult decisions. If elected, I will exert every effort to make sure the HPISD remains the top school district in the State of Texas, and that each and every student has the opportunity to excel.
Thank you for your interest in this election, and please get out and vote. Sam Dalton
Amy Titus' Answer
It's easy to get lost in day-to-day issues of the school district and forget the published goal of HPISD is "empower each student to become an eager lifelong learner committed to academic excellence, integrity, responsible citizenship and service to others". (http://www.hpisd.org/Default.aspx?tabid=109) My background equips me very well to work through day-to-day challenges without losing sight of the larger goals.
By nature, I am an independent thinker who wants to understand the why and how of a problem and make sure the overall goal is being met. I ask questions, think for myself and make decisions accordingly. I believe that we should never be satisfied with the status quo no matter how excellent our school system is. There is always room for improvement.
We do not live in a static world, but one that is constantly changing and we must continually look for areas where we can improve to stay on the forefront of where the world is headed. I will look at issues from all angles and come to my own conclusions to further the standard of excellence that was set long ago in HPISD.
I bring a variety of perspectives to educational issues. I have two very different children, one who attends HPMS and one who is about to graduate from boarding school. I have always believed that it is very important to look at the child and truly listen to their individual needs and strengths to make the best decisions for that child. As an HP graduate, I would have loved to send both of my children through HPISD from start to finish, but my older child made it clear that he was better suited for private school. This was not an easy decision, but I believe that it is very important to my perspective as a potential school board member.
First off, the school board represents every one who lives in the district and that includes those who send their children to private schools, those who do not have school aged children and the parents of children attending our schools. Secondly, I have seen first hand how other schools operate and address the very same issues that we must address. I also bring the experience of a school volunteer and that of a substitute teacher in HPISD as well as that of a parent. All of these positions afford unique insights into how our schools function.
Volunteers tend to see our school system at its best and substitutes are in one of the toughest positions that we have, stepping into a classroom full of skeptical kids who want to push the boundaries. It is important to look at education from as many perspectives as possible and I feel that I have a great variety of views starting as an HP student myself and moving through the system as a parent, volunteer and substitute employee.
I also believe that my experience holding multiple community offices including president of the UPUMC Weekday School board and president of the Junior Group of the Marianne Scruggs Garden Club will be very helpful in approaching the tasks put before a school board. I have also worked in my family’s insurance business and have a solid understanding of how to read a finance report. Although the UPUMC Weekday School is very small in comparison with HPISD, we had to deal with some very difficult situations including the firing of a director who was not performing up to our standards and hiring an interim replacement and ultimately a permanent replacement.
My approach to education issues includes looking at what it is that we ultimately want for our children. What I am looking for is to raise my children and the children of our community to be happy, healthy, well adjusted contributing members of society. I believe that every issue must be approached with this in mind and ask the question of which solution will best further us along the path toward that goal.
We are taking suggestions for questions, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
To Learn More About Sam Dalton: http://www.facebook.com/samdaltonHPISD
To Learn More About Amy Titus: http://www.facebook.com/electamytitus