Staff writer Nicole Gonzalez spoke with Joal Hall Broun, a newly appointed Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board member, about what she wants to change during her time serving on the board.
The Daily Tar Heel: What is your relationship with the city schools?
Joal Hall Broun: I am a parent. I have two children in the Chapel Hill school system — both of them in high school — and I currently serve, although I have to resign now, as the parent chair of the school improvement team.
DTH: How did you decide you wanted to be a member of the school board?
JHB: I think my skill, my education and my experience would assist. I served on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen for 12 years, and I think that gave me experience with government, and I understand funding issues.
Also my experience on the school improvement team — I had the opportunity to hear the teachers and the concerns of parents for making the schools a place where the students want to be and to also ensure we are preparing our children for the 21st century.
I grew up when there were no cell phones. I can remember going to law school, and in my first year, that’s when they started doing electronic research. We were taught both ways, the book and the electronic ways, but so many things have changed since I was in high school, and there are so many different pressures.
We need to, in some respect, modify schools to make it work so that when our children get out of high school, they have the tools they need to ... go to work and to higher education.
DTH: What do you want to change in the schools?
JHB: Well, the first thing is I want to eliminate the achievement gap. I want to ensure that all children are getting a first class education from the district.
DTH: What methods would you implement to close the achievement gap?
JHB: One of the things we need to look at is finding the resources where they need to be. For example, are we intervening early enough for individuals who are having difficulty learning? And so, that needs to start in kindergarten, in first, second, third and all throughout.
The optimal thing we would want to do is to ensure that, one, we intervene appropriately and the children are being provided the necessary sources so they can at least read at grade level. Two, we want to create an environment where children are excited about going to school — that it’s a fun place to be and that I am learning because this is what life is.
Develop grit, if you will, and do not discourage learning, if you will. Part of that is changing culture, part of that is having high expectations for everyone and just being very direct about eliminating the achievement gap and understanding that it is a continuous thing, not something you do and then stop doing.
DTH: What does being on the school board mean to you?
JHB: I think it’s an honor and a privilege. I am reading some background information that current board members are sending me now so I can be prepared to be a hard worker and member of the school board.