2018 School Board Candidate Questionnaire Responses

Michael Henry


Candidate, School Board District 6

Responses submitted May 3, 2018 to UnifiEd via Google Forms. Responses are published here exactly as submitted without editing.

Question 1 – Racial & Socioeconomic Desegregation
As a school board member, I commit to working together with the Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) to develop a plan to end socioeconomic and racial segregation. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. While I was completing my Master of Business Administration and two graduate certificates in Business Analytics and Strategic Human Resource Leadership at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga I worked at East Lake Academy of Fine Arts, Howard School of Academics and Technology, and Brainerd High School. I was placed in Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry classrooms to assist in these high-risk schools.

From a business and HR perspective, a segregated Hamilton County is not sustainable model. We can only grow to our fullest potential if we can utilize all of the talent that our unique and diverse community offers.

Blending of students itself will have little to no impact on student performance. We must focus on bringing the parents and the community together into a unified front. This is how these barriers are broken in the schools. I have for years, and will continue to work to help students who do not have the support they need to succeed in school.

Question 2 – Racial & Socioeconomic Desegregation
As a school board member, I commit to actively partnering with community members to demand the end of socioeconomic and racial segregation in our schools. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I already partner with community members and organizations to help them build within our innovative community. In my discussions with friends, clients and colleagues I am always asking questions and seeking fresh, diverse ideas and opinions to aid in the ending of this division of our county due to pressures of money and societal constraints.

Question 3 – Supporting the People in Our Schools
As a school board member, I commit to supporting better relationships and engagement by working together with the schools in my district to ensure students and teachers have a voice in issues that matter to them. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. Each and every day I meet or speak with at least one person who can provide new information and perspective for me so I am ready to make decisions informed by my constituents.

I have already begun to implement marketing for schools in my district on my own social media (https://www.facebook.com/MichaelHenryfortheSchools/) by creating a space where students, teachers, and our community can see the positive aspects of the schools and ask questions. I have my phone number, email, and social media available to all who have questions. I even introduced and detailed Future Ready Institutes to teachers who work in schools which have acquired the program. Thus, I am already communicating in ways which are not currently implemented.

Question 4 – Supporting the People in Our Schools
As a school board member, I commit to working with central office to ensure teaching and student programs provide personalized support, especially to those with special needs and minority identities (like English-language learners and LGBTQ+ students). Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I have done this for years. Especially in Howard, where there has been a great influx of English-language learners, I was able to use my knowledge of foreign language to work directly with these students. During my time there, we shared 1 ESL assistant between 3 schools, so there was no way she could help these students each day. I often was tasked with helping these students while the teacher, who could not speak a foreign language close to the students’ native tongue, was able to continue focused lecture with the rest of the class. This specialized support was especially helpful as I noticed the ESL students with whom I worked were often ones who had support at home, grasped concepts quickly, and completed assignments in a timely manner once they were given instruction in a language they understood.

I also would be called upon to work one-on-one with students who struggled to fit into the culture of the classroom model and were falling behind. I would take something they were passionate about and transform it into math. Taking the time to find this key in an individual’s mind would allow them to return to classroom and grasp concepts in their unique mind.

In District 6, the forgotten school is Dawn School. This school exists for one purpose: to provide a therapeutic environment for students whose inability to fit into is due to physical and mental challenges. I have met with this staff and have begun a line of communication which will continue to allow me to service our under-served school. Based on the staff’s comments and “thank you”s, I believe I am the only School Board member or candidate who has done this.

Question 5 – Community Engagement & Empowerment
As a school board member, I commit to working with school leadership to provide creative, accessible avenues for parents and community members to support schools and children. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. One of the largest parts of my research done so far has been in schools whose strong leaders impacted our schools. For District 6, one example is Normal Park, whose leaders have told me about how the transformation of the neighborhood was influenced by the curriculum created for the school. Strong leadership and curriculum excited parents to move here and trust their school. In turn, parents and the local community have used their time, talent, and treasure to make these schools what they are today. I will continue to work toward this end with open communication with leadership. In addition, my knowledge of Strategic Human Resource Leadership will be valuable in making decisions on how to develop talent and utilize it across the schools to make sure all have the opportunity to go to a school led by the most qualified talent.

Question 6 – Community Engagement & Empowerment
As a school board member, I commit to partnering with local organizations and businesses to support and provide resources in our schools. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. In my tours of District 6 I witnessed a computer lab full of roughly 30 new Mac desktop computers in a room with a leaky roof. I will partner with local technical as well as non-technical organizations which understand the overall benefit of having the best schools. Ensuring a holistic view of each of the schools is the only way to address problems literally from the ground, up.

Question 7 – Supporting the Whole Child
As a school board member, I commit to working with schools to ensure students’ mental and emotional health needs are supported.  Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. Mental and emotional disease are, in large part, a result of poor physical health, which is in large part a result of poor diet and lack of exercise. I want to bring better nutritional options to the schools and figure out how to incorporate body movement into every school-day. We must also continue to fight to bring more mentors and counselors to provide positive support to all students.

Question 8 – Supporting the Whole Child
As a school board member, I commit to partnering with and supporting community organizations to ensure children can access mentoring, field trips, and early childhood education. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I have already been speaking to my friends who I have in the Innovation District, local small businesses, grant writers, clients of my own, and presidents of large organizations about how I would like to get them involved in helping our students. It should come as no surprise, they are all willing and ready to help. I came to the Tennessee Aquarium nearly every summer of life and it shaped the way I think. I will help bring opportunities such as visiting places like the Aquarium to our students because each person is unique and learns differently. Some students requires an experience outside of the classroom to grow and apply concepts necessary for understanding.

Question 9 – Funding & Budgeting
As a school board member, I commit to prioritizing funds for capital expenses to make sure all school facilities are safe and healthy learning spaces, and ensuring there is a long-term plan to keep them that way. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I hope to implement an automated system which takes measurements of the schools current facilities health and is able to show depreciation, estimated cost of repairs or replacements, and alerts to approaching estimated repairs and replacements.

In regards to safety, as Police Chief Roddy preaches, “the smoker’s rock” (anything used to prop open a door which locks) is an example of the many ways a multimillion dollar security infrastructure can be dismantled. We must first take the time to educate teachers, staff, parents, and students of this fact.

Question 10 – Funding & Budgeting
As a school board member, I commit to prioritizing funding to recruit, support, and keep the best teachers. Yes or NoIf yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. As someone with theoretical human resource knowledge and someone who has spoken with teachers and TEA about this subject, we must realize the entire package is what attracts and retains good teachers and staff.

Beginning with what costs little to no money: let’s stop speaking poorly about our public schools, let us not let the community be complacent nor derogatory toward them. Our sensationalized negative media (especially social media) has led to local and national issues when speaking about mindset. If we can work to change the mindset of one person at a time, we can ultimately change the mindset of our community and nation.

Also, I am a marketing expert. There are many inexpensive marketing tools which we could leverage to attract the talent we desire. But let’s first make a great environment to which teachers can come.

Let’s pay our teachers, but let’s also support them with more resources, comfortable environments in which to work, and let’s give them a chance to live happy and healthy lives. If our teachers can’t be happy and healthy, then what can we expect them to reflect to our students?

Question 11- Supporting the Whole Child
As a school board member, I commit to ensuring all students have access to early childhood education programs so every child enters kindergarten ready to learn. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. My family did not have the resources to put me in a Pre-K program, but I had the parental support which prepared me to enter public schools. My mother describes our situation as she “taught me what I was interested in”. We worked on numbers, letters, colors, shapes; we read a lot and wrote. We had writing pads and inexpensive toys that were focused on learning. With only 25 HCDE Pre-K locations, these programs are not accessible to all families. HCDE and the Board must augment efforts of Department of Human Services, Department of Children Services, Youth & Family Development, etc. and educate them on what is required of a successful student entering our public school system.

Question 12 – UnifiEd PACT for Public Education
As a school board member, I commit to working with community partners and HCDE to expand community schools throughout the county to provide holistic support to neighborhoods and communities. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. First, we should realize that different types of schools are necessary to support different types of communities and their successes should be measured based on the needs of that community. It is hurting our schools when we try to measure them on the exact same plane, because growth in technical skills in one place may be valuable in one location, whereas college preparation may be valuable in another community. Our county is a blend of unique communities making us so valuable as a whole.

Secondly, let us talk about how the schools create the community, especially in places which have the opportunity of development and planning. Even those who do not have children are affected by their local schools, and these people should be educated to know they must be a part of the process of supporting our schools as much as a parent of a student.

Question 13 – UnifiEd PACT for Public Education
As a school board member, I commit to setting standards for our board and actively participating in a transparent self-assessment process. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. In the same way the Board reviews and assesses the Superintendent, so should the Board review and assess themselves. I would recommend a peer review format which assigns a Board Member to a Board Member of an adjacent district for a semester and a strategic way to rotate peers. In this way, Board Members (especially those who must collaborate because a student goes to a school in a neighboring district from where they live) can learn from each other, collectively work on projects to address similar issues, hold each other accountable, and have feedback upon which to improve their efforts.

In addition, the resumes and ongoing updates from each Board Member should be posted, shared, and readily accessible to the community.

Please assess me and provide feedback so I may best serve you: http://www.michaelhenryfortheschools.com/

Question 14 – UnifiEd PACT for Public Education
As a school board member, I commit to ensuring current school system funds are efficiently spent. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. As a consultant I work with small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups–teaching them best practices for business and marketing strategy. In instances in which they are willing to share their transactional and/or marketing data I provide an audit of the present state. I create a presentation which they can keep and I walk them through each part of my audit which contains information about current inefficiencies and suggestions for optimization.

My time as strategic data analyst at a local marketing agency I have 4 responsibilities:
1) Exporting marketing data from all marketing channels (from traditional media like mailbox inserts, billboards, radio, etc. to digital like banners on the sides of web pages, social media, paid search, website behavior, etc.). Then I would clean the data to be ready to put into a more malleable format.
2) Making insights about weaknesses and opportunities in the marketing efforts and taking this information to media buyers so they can make optimizations in the way money is being spent.
3) Sitting with the CEO and account team to look at past insights, future projections, and clients needs to develop the strategy for the upcoming media cycle.
4) Reporting all of this information to client in a way which made sense to them.

I would like to bring these skills and experience to the School Board so we can collaboratively create most-efficient spending.

Question 15 – UnifiEd PACT for Public Education
As a school board member, I commit to working with HCDE to create a 5-year budget and strategic plan connecting money to improved student outcomes. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I have successfully created and managed several budgets in my experience When I was 20 years old, I was elected President of the housing organization at the University of Tennessee which is the second-largest student-led organization at the university with over 7,000 members and a budget around $50,000. It was my responsibility to create and maintain this budget with my executive board. We finished the year with the greatest surplus of money which the advisors had ever seen. We were able to carry this money into our strategic plan for larger-scale improvements of facilities.

As a data analyst, I have received a PhD-level education on projections and forecasting. In my work experience I will bring these skills to help with board collaborate with HCDE to create realistic, real-time budgets which can flex and measure success based on any changes.