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Candidate Essay: Nancy Van Doren

Nancy Van Doren in the 4/22/14 School Board debateLast week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates who are seeking the Democratic endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the endorsement caucus on May 15 and 17.

Here is the unedited response from Nancy Van Doren:

Arlington Public Schools are at a critical juncture: We must continue to improve educational outcomes for all our students while also finding space for over 700 new students each year. This challenge requires a leader who has a deep understanding of our students and schools. I am that leader. I ask for your support and vote on May 15 and 17 at the Democratic School Board endorsement caucus.

For the last decade I have dedicated myself to working with scores of parents, students, and teachers across Arlington to ensure APS is responsive to individual student needs. I am the only candidate with such extensive experience at the operational level in our schools. I am also the only candidate with hands-on experience at the school and system level in multiple areas, including facilities improvement, transportation, instruction, special education, family engagement and diversity. I am also fluent in Spanish and helped to found the Arlington Latino Network. This experience and knowledge is essential to ensure student, parent and teacher voices are heard at the Board table while critical decisions are made related to facilities and student achievement.

I work collaboratively and build coalitions to fix problems and find solutions. This track record of “getting the job done” is my hallmark. For example, as Jefferson Middle School PTA President, I worked with civic associations, feeder schools, parents, and staff to get Jefferson and its playing fields renovated cost-effectively; I also ensured families from all backgrounds were supported and welcomed in school. I lead the effort and successfully secured Jefferson’s designation as a County-wide school, which enables students from across Arlington to attend the school and receive bus service.

When APS disrupted its transportation system, I stepped up, served on the Multi-Modal Transportation Committee, and worked to issue recommendations to get students safely to school. I lead the successful effort to obtain school bus service to dozens of students along the Columbia Pike Corridor attending Kenmore and Jefferson Middle Schools.

As Chair of the Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee, I spearheaded an effort to have special needs services evaluated, resulting in a blueprint for improved services and instruction. I also created support groups for families and advocated on their behalf, ensuring students got what they needed to succeed in school.
These concrete accomplishments in leadership positions over the past ten years at the school and county level set me apart from the other candidates.

I am education advocate with extensive business and international experience. I spent 12 years in the private sector with Connecticut National Bank, The Travelers Companies, The Hartford Courant and Newsday. I am fluent in Spanish and lived in Nicaragua and Spain. I spent eight years overseas with my husband Jack Zetkulic, a Foreign Service Officer, and my family living in Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland. For the last decade, my family and I have lived in Ashton Heights and my children attend Jefferson Middle School and W-L High School). I served on and/or Chaired the following Committees in APS: Multi-Modal Student Safety Special Services Committee, Arlington Career Center Parent Advisory Committee, Family and Community Engagement Working Group, Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee, ADHD Task Force, Advisory Council on Instruction, County Council of PTAs, Jefferson Middle School PTA President, Washington-Lee Crew Boosters and Fundraising, Arlington Latino Network (Founding Member), ArlingtonADHD and ArlingtonReading Parent Support Groups (Founder).

To read more about my candidacy, please visit my website www.nancyvandoren.org. I can also be found on Facebook at Nancy Van Doren for School Board.

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