Activist and parent: Jesse Ladomirak

Activist+and+parent%3A+Jesse+Ladomirak

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INSIGHT INTO A NEWLY ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER

Text by: Gwyneth Wong

Photo by: Jesse Ladomirak’s Campaign

As a parent and activist in education, Jesse Ladomirak hopes to help all students’ perform better in school.

Ladomirak is a newcomer on the Palo Alto Unified School District school Board of Education. She was sworn on Dec. 15, after which she can vote on the board.

Ladomirak’s primary motivation in running for the school board was to improve the learning plan for students. After coronavirus forced school campuses to shut down and students had to learn virtually, she noticed the board’s action plan did not best address the needs of students.

“There seemed to be a disconnect between the way things were being explained and rolled out at the district level, and then how that was actually playing out in the schools and classrooms,” Ladomirak says. “I want to make sure every child is being attended to in the way that they need.”

As a parent whose kids are in the district, she felt she could contribute valuable insight, saying:.

“My hope is that parenting four PAUSD kids, each of whom is having a very different experience in our district, gives me insight and perspective into the lived experience of students and families, the ways that district decisions, policies, programs, priorities, etc. actually impact the educational experience of our kids.”

Although the biggest motivator for her to join the school board race was the pandemic, she later realized during her campaign effort that she was also fighting to represent women on the board.

“During the campaign, I talked to a number of women in elected office, and they all mentioned to me how important it was to have high-caliber women at all levels of elected office,” Ladomirak says. 

Now on the board, she feels that the group of women on the board is like another family to her. She can also be a role model for her daughters.

“I am proud to be part of that sisterhood,” Ladomirak says. “I am also proud to be an example for my two daughters.” 

Ladomirak hopes to contribute her expertise and knowledge to address two large issues that have become evident in the online learning environment: mental wellness and educational equity. 

“Both of those issues are very much exacerbated by the pandemic and by school closures related to the pandemic,” Ladomirak says.

To address student mental well being, Ladomirak firstly wants to amplify the amount of support available.

“One of the first things I want to do is I want to figure out how to get more of the student voice involved in the governance structure of the school board,” Ladomirak says. “Some process by which getting student input into what’s happening in schools. We need to ask kids what they need”

The second issue Ladomarik wants to address is traditional equity, an issue she says she is deeply passionate about.

“In college, I worked both full and part time for an afterschool program for low-income elementary school kids in New Haven” Ladomirak says. “In the Palo Alto community, I have volunteered for 6 years with the organization All Students Matter, providing academic support to elementary students grades 1-3 in classrooms throughout the Ravenswood City School District. … I also volunteered for a number of years providing academic support to kids in an afterschool program at the Opportunity Center in Palo Alto.”

She plans to use her voice to provide an equal academic learning experience for all students in the district.

 “We cannot call ourselves a great school district if we are consistently failing the same group of kids,” Ladomirak says.

To help solve this issue, she will urge the district to approach the issue differently. 

“My plan is to provide pressure on the district staff, and keep providing it from the board level,” Ladomirak says.”We can’t just keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing for decades and expect a different result.

Ladomirak says she hopes her time on the board allows every child to get the education they deserve. 

When she is not fulfilling her duties on the board, she says she can be found spending time with her four kids. 

“My oldest is in 8th grade,” Ladomirak says. “I have three in elementary school so everything that you can imagine doing as a little kid that’s what we do.”