Photo courtesy of Taler Jefferson.

The RISD Board of Trustees election is on Nov. 5. Early voting begins Oct. 21.

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District 2: Taler Jefferson

Why have you decided to run for this position?

I decided to run for the RISD District 4 Board of Trustees’ position, honestly, because of my love for the district. I am a proud product of Richardson schools and a graduate from Richardson High School, class of 2007. I grew up in the community of Hamilton Park, and upon moving back after college, I dedicated myself to the improvement of Hamilton Park and the North Dallas community. I have the community’s ear, so running for the school board is something I believe is important, vital, and something I truly want to do. When I heard about what Mr. David Tyson was doing to create an opportunity zone for others, such as myself, to potentially hold a seat on the board, I was elated. I decided to run for RISD Board of Trustees Place 4 because District 4 seems to get lost in translation when it comes to education.

What experience have you had that will help you with this position?

I am the founder and director of the nonprofit organization The Salome Foundation. Our mission is to rebuild, educate and serve underserved communities and populations. Currently, our focus has been on Hamilton Park and Forest/Audelia areas as those areas are in much need of support in the Lake Highlands area. Those specific target areas make up District 4 in Richardson ISD. I also belong to the Hamilton Park Civic League, the Hamilton Park Inter-Organization Council and District 10’s Collective Impact Public Safety team. In all of those organizations they all me to be right in the core of the community and really better the community as a whole.

If elected, what policies will you advocate for?

I would like to advocate for the gain of more resources and bilingual teachers to teach English Language Learner. This is an issue that every district in Texas specifically is facing. With all of the violence going on in Central America we are getting more and more students from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, etc. that do not speak English at all. Because of this they are being thrown into classes with teachers who do not speak the language, so these students are being left in the cold and falling by the waste side. More bilingual teachers or translators need to be hired and there should be additional training for current teachers on effective ways to teach the ELL students so they will not be left behind. I would also like to see the schools that need the most help receive outside help from non-profit organizations that focus on educating. I would also support alternative ways of learning for those schools. Every student does not learn effectively the exact same way as the next, so I would definitely advocate for alternative learning. As a board member, I would like to advocate for educators on increasing their pay and/or incentives.

What do you like about RISD?

I love RISD. I love the people and I love the culture. I am a Richardson ISD product, so I have a special place in my heart for RISD. Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet is the school that molded me into the person I am today. It was programs such as REACH that encouraged and inspired me to think outside of the box. This program let me know that being smart was cool. This is why I love RISD, for the culture and inspiration.

What don’t you like about RISD?

Jackson did not answer.

What is your favorite part about the neighborhood – Lake Highlands?

The favorite part about the neighborhood is my neighborhood, Hamilton Park. It is so much diversity in Lake Highlands, there are over 50 languages spoken in Lake Highlands, so many different cultures and people that make it a huge boiling pot of greatness. Lake Highlands gives you the small-town feel, everyone knows everyone and are looking out for everyone. In

Hamilton Park it is even smaller, which is great. I can literally walk onto my front porch and name all of my neighbors, that is rare. We live in a very unique community for sure.

What changes are you hoping to make?

I bring the millennial view to the table. Because I am a teacher, I bring the teacher’s voice to the board. I am not that far removed from being a student myself, so I bring the student voice as well. Also, I know my voice has power and I am not afraid to speak up for the voiceless. I really hope to change the perspective that the community has on the school board. Not many people within District 4 have ever been interested in school board elections until now, because they have 4 candidates that look like them running for the position; that is change in perception in itself.

What – in your opinion – is the culture of RISD?

In my opinion the culture of RISD is inspiring, diverse and family. We have something special in RISD that not many other districts have and that is all of those things.

What would you like constituents to know?

I am a native of Dallas, Texas and a product of RISD. I am a 2010 graduate of Bennett College and a 2016 graduate of Life University where I received a Masters of Sports Health Science. I worked at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, as a campus administrator while being an assistant to the dean of women. This position taught me a lot about how campus policies are established and how they are enforced. I worked closely with the dean of women and other administrators to ensure the safety of the students and continue to keep our students and campus on the upward ladder of success. Everything surrounding my life, from my professional career to my nonprofit organization, revolves around education and creating a lasting impact on the world.

I currently reside in Hamilton Park and I have 4 nieces and nephews that I call my children. They are my world.

This Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.