I am a mother of four with a Doctorate in Chemistry; while getting my Ph.D. I taught courses at Georgia Tech.  I was a Scientist in Dupont business unit.  With experience in academia, teaching, and business, I bring unique qualities.

As a parent, I know children need a well-rounded education.  I lobbied the state for 20 minutes of daily recess and led Test Watch to cut tests.  I’ve tackled this on the sidelines.  I’m ready step up for Lake County.

We have a bloated top-heavy system.  For years I’ve left board meetings frustrated by money frittered away.  Money which should go towards schools and classrooms.  I will cut at the top and direct money toward our children, where we educate

Ensuring that every child in lake county receives a top-notch well-rounded education.  As a parent I want to ensure that my own children receive a world class education and I honestly feel that each child in Lake County deserves to receive as good of an education as my own children receive.  How do we do this:

  1. We have a bloated top-heavy district; I am frustrated with wasted spending that would better serve our children by being spent in the classrooms, with the teachers and schools that know how to best educate our children.
  2. Cut common core tests and return recess. Our children are over-tested and under educated.  They are being groomed for tests instead of being educated in the skills they need for their futures.  We can fix a lot of this at the district level and we can actively lobby the state to change the laws that are hurting our children and schools.  Adding recess is a simple policy change that is past due; I should not have had to bring this to a state level this year.  Other counties, Seminole and Osceola have already fixed this simple problem.
  3. Right now, because of testing, the county is fixated on teaching reading, math and science (beginning in 5th grade). In the upper grades, children miss out on electives, like band, to take a second remedial class.  All of our children deserve a rich well-rounded education.

This over-emphasis on ‘core classes’ deprives the student of skills that could lead to a career, of something that could lead to a college scholarship, or simply something that might bring joy and a reason to not drop out.  Of course reading, math, and science are important, but so is civics, early elementary science, art, vocational studies, and the arts.  Every child can learn.  We must teach to the needs of each child.

I have already been advocating for children in the Lake County schools for 2 years.  As a parent with four children, I have advocated to bring back recess and to decrease excessive standardized testing.  I prioritized these issues because when I talk to parents and teachers, I have learned that these are the problems that deeply hurt our children and schools.  As a school board member, I would no longer be on the sidelines, I would be able to work on these issues and many, many more.

I am the candidate that has gone to Tallahassee many times to lobby our legislature for reducing testing and passing the recess bill.  I go to Tallahassee because I believe that passing this bill and talking to the legislators about the problems in our schools can make a difference.  I have also cofounded a local group, TestWatch, a nonpartisan group of teachers, parents and concerned citizens which has successfully decreased testing locally and statewide.

My goal is to make Lake County schools fantastic for each and every child.  I was raised by a reading teacher and a local small businessman.  I value all walks in life and every career path.  I want to provide children with an excellent education so that they can succeed.

  1. Hire the right superintendent who can lead our county in a new direction, believes in educating each child to their best ability, can make cuts and the ‘hard choices’ at the district level so that we are living within our means, and can lead by earning respect instead of though fear.
  2. The budget and the strategic finance plan: there are millions of dollars that could be reallocated toward the classroom.
  3. Salaries: We have a teacher shortage.  To have excellent education we need to hire excellent teachers and we need to be able to pay them.  Once we have invested in training we must retain these teachers rather than loose them to surrounding counties.Our administrators have some of the highest salaries in the state while our support staff and teachers have some of the lowest.
  4. Cut the layer of middle-management between our teachers and our principals and vice principals. We hire professionals, our teachers, and we should treat them as such.  Micromanagement does not work, and has never worked.  We all know great teachers and new teachers, which might need support or extra training, and would be better served by having fairly-paid master teachers teach them the ropes.
  5. Provide teachers with more ‘hands’ in the classrooms
  6. Provide classrooms with adequate supplies. Our classrooms are often out of basic supplies, light bulbs, and printer paper and this is embarrassing
  7. The list goes on and on.

I am a mother to four beautiful children all of which will be educated in the Lake County Schools.  I am running for School Board because I want ensure that every child receives the high quality, well-rounded education, which my own children deserve.  I have been actively advocating for children in the Lake County schools for 2 years.

Right now, Lake County has an over emphasis on math and reading and science after 5th grade because these are the subjects on the state tests.  Of course, these are important subjects, but not so important as to exclude civics, elementary science, recess, art, electives, and vocational studies. As a parent, I have advocated to bring back recess and to decrease excessive standardized testing.

I prioritized these issues because when I talk to parents and teachers, I have learned that these are the problems that deeply hurt our children and schools.  As a school board member, I would no longer be on the side-lines, I would be able to work on these issues and many, many more to make our schools excellent.

I have a doctorate in Chemistry from Georgia Tech and I taught college level Chemistry courses while earning my degree.  I worked as a scientist at Dupont in a business unit that allowed me to interact with sales, marketing, scientists, and customers including Military Generals.

2 years ago I learned that many children in Lake County did not get recess.  This isn’t healthy or recommended by children’s doctors who see this as a critical part of their education.  So, this year, after minimal changes at the county level, I teamed up with groups across the state to bring a bill to the State of Florida that would give every child in Florida 20 minutes of recess each day.  Our multi-county group lobbied Tallahassee hard over the 12 week session.  I and my group lobbied weekly in Tallahassee for this bill and to reduce testing.  We passed the house nearly unanimously but one senator killed the bill.  There are many mandates from the state that hurt our schools; I think my experience in Tallahassee could be helpful on the board.  Also, Lake County could vote YES on recess right now!  I would vote YES.

Our kids are over tested and under educated.  Test-prep is not a top-notch education, it is much more like being prepared to take the SAT, except at 8 years old.  Therefore, I created Test Watch, a nonpartisan group to decrease testing in Lake County and across the state.  I am also a local leader in the Opt Out movement, which works to decrease high-stakes tests and support our schools.  We have achieved some success at decreasing tests.  There are a lot of extra local tests that could be stopped and as a school board member I would fight to stop this extreme testing madness.

I am blessed.  I have four healthy children, including twins, and a loving husband.  I worked incredibly hard for my doctorate, often working 100+ hour weeks and I take pride in my dedication.  When I worked at Dupont, I was proud that my work could help our military men and women stay active in the field, and protect women and children, from chemical attacks.  I am proud that I could be part of a group, the ‘Recess Moms’ who saw a problem and took it to the state level and are making a change for every child in Florida.

When elected Dr. Burns intents to:

Ensure that every child in Lake County receives a well-rounded top-notch education.  As a parent I want to ensure that my own children receive a world class education and I honestly feel that each child in Lake County deserves to receive as good of an education as my own children receive.  Every child can learn.  We must teach to the needs of each child.

How do we do this:

  • We have a bloated top-heavy district; I am frustrated with wasted spending that would better serve our children by being spent in the classrooms, with the teachers and schools that know how to best educate our children. This is how we bring real accountability to the school board.
  • Cut common core tests and return recess.
  • Ensure a well-rounded education for every student which includes vocational studies, recess, elementary science, civics, and the arts.

I cofounded Lake Test Watch which is a local nonpartisan group that has worked to reduce excessive high-stakes tests in Lake County and state wide.  I cofounded Lake County Healthy Schools, a Facebook Page that focuses on bringing recess back to Lake County Schools, reducing common core testing, and district-wide school news.  I am a local leader in the Opt Out Florida Network by being an admin on the Lake County Facebook page.  Through Opt Out, I support parents who decide to have their children participate in state tests to the minimal extent that the law allows.  I have also been an active member in the Treadway Elementary Student Advisory Committee, and the Treadway Elementary and Spring Creek Charter School PTOs.

Since I must choose one person, I pick my previous boss and mentor Dupont Director, Chris Barnett.  I was in a sector of Dupont that had not lost its successful startup name, Genencor, and Mr. Barnett had been with Genencor since the start in the 80’s.  The most valuable lesson that I learned was how a modern organization functions with a very a flat managerial structure.  Every person was critical and valued.  Doors were always open, including the CEO’s.  Mr. Barnett had a ‘get it done’ attitude and managed to positively motivate everyone no matter how frustrating the problem.  He taught me that it was OK to fail, because trying is what creates innovation. He always showed his thanks and everyone felt valued.

I have been attending and speaking at school board meetings for 2 years.  I’m called a ‘recess mom’ and I didn’t like the name at first, but now I like the name because it shows how hard I have worked to help our children.  I fight to decrease testing because I see how it’s cutting into educational time.  What we are doing isn’t working; children and teachers are losing the joy of learning and teaching.  As a school board member I could enact change in ways that I cannot do from the sidelines.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got. –Mark Twain.