Rebecca Dyson for
Ashland School Board

Hello Ashland community!

My name is Rebecca Dyson (Becka) and I am running for Ashland School Board, Seat 4.

I moved to Ashland with my family in 2013 and my four children have been enrolled in the school district ever since. They have now been through every grade from K through 12 and have enjoyed participating in many of the diverse activities Ashland has to offer.

As they have progressed through school, I have become involved through volunteer work ranging from elementary school PTO to assisting at music performances and athletic competitions to coaching students in Oregon Battle of the Books and managing a youth soccer team for many years.

For the past three years I have served on the AHS Site Council under three different principals and have been on the board of Ashland High Arts Advocates, a non-profit organization that provides outreach and financial assistance to the arts departments at AHS.

  • I believe every child deserves access to high quality public education.
  • I favor a holistic approach and wish to serve the best interests of all students regardless of background, grade level or ability.
  • I am an MD and will critically assess the measures we are taking to maintain an open and safe environment for our students, staff and families as we navigate the remainder of the pandemic and beyond.
  • I believe the school board is a place where a wide variety of voices should be heard and will encourage open communication and input from all facets of our community.

There will be many issues facing the board in the coming months and years, but here are a few that I feel especially strongly about:

 
Rebecca Dyson & Family

left quotation markAs a district, we must do our best to fully re-engage students in the process of learning.right quotation mark

 

left quotation markAs a district, we must do our best to fully re-engage students in the process of learning.right quotation mark

Beyond The Pandemic

Over the past year, no student has been left unaffected by the isolation of Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL). While individual responses have been varied, the complete lack of social and extracurricular activities (in most cases made up for by increased screen time) have been coupled with a corresponding decrease in academic drive. Just looking at my own children, I have seen a surprising global level of apathy and disconnect.

As students return to the classroom, we must provide for their emotional and mental health in addition to making up for academic losses. As a district, we must do our best to fully re-engage students in the process of learning. This will not be something that can be achieved by simply putting students back in class. Our children need a restart.

One step we can take is to engage students beyond the classroom. Students who participate in extracurricular activities including sports, performing arts, academic teams and clubs, or social or special-interest groups do better in school across the board. Especially now, we must think outside the box about how to safely provide students with welcoming, enriching, and innovative in-person activities outside the classroom to help them to reconnect or make new connections. Social interaction and support will be critical to getting students back on track in school and in life.

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Dyson Family Music Time

left quotation markStudents who are involved in the arts do better academically, have higher rates of attendance, and lower rates of behavioral infractions.right quotation mark

 

left quotation markStudents who are involved in the arts do better academically, have higher rates of attendance, and lower rates of behavioral infractions.right quotation mark

The Arts In Education

The arts are a critical component of any academic curriculum. Studies consistently show that students who are involved in the arts do better academically, have higher rates of attendance, and lower rates of behavioral infractions.

In addition, the arts are often a place where students who are marginalized or struggling academically can find a safe and successful place to express themselves. Due to the scheduling and physical restrictions brought on by COVID, participation in the arts has dropped dramatically in our district this year.

Ashland’s strong commitment to the arts is one of the main things that drew our family to this community. We must ensure that as we move beyond the restrictions of the pandemic, our schools’ arts programs are given the support and accessibility they deserve.

Fine Arts Courses Help Students Excel In Math And Science
by Jessica Baron, Forbes
“Myriad research shows that students from all socioeconomic backgrounds benefit from arts education.”

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Dyson Family Music Time

left quotation markI do not see EDI as one agenda item to strive for, but rather as a global overview that shapes everything we do.right quotation mark

left quotation markI do not see EDI as one agenda item to strive for, but rather as a global overview that shapes everything we do.right quotation mark

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

I am fully committed to building an equitable and inclusive environment within our school district and our community. I do not see this as one agenda item to strive for but rather as a global overview that shapes everything we do. Our hiring policies, our curriculum, our extracurricular programs and outreach must all move forward within the framework of EDI. Equity is only as strong as the foundation upon which it is built.

In order to truly strengthen our commitment to EDI, in addition to support for underserved students, we must:

  • provide students from all backgrounds a clear path to success by maintaining our academic excellence, as well as our commitment to accessible enrichment beyond the academic classroom.
  • provide teachers and staff the training and support they need to create an inclusive environment.
  • make Ashland School District a welcoming place to work and live so that we can attract the most qualified applicants from diverse backgrounds to serve as role models and mentors for our children.
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Dyson Family Music Time

left quotation markI would like to see the school district continue to build this program to help create a culture of safety and respect for all students.right quotation mark

 

left quotation markI would like to see the school district continue to build this program to help create a culture of safety and respect for all students.right quotation mark

No Means No:
Self-Empowerment through Self-Defense

I believe that self-defense and anti-bullying training can benefit all students and should be available through our schools. Currently in Oregon, Erin’s Law requires public schools to provide a minimum of four child sexual abuse prevention education lessons a year for children in pre-kindergarten through high school as well as staff education and information for parents.

Together with my husband Peter Halt, who has taught martial arts and self-defense for over 30 years, we have promoted supplementing this classroom education with physical training in basic self-defense techniques as part of the PE curriculum. Working with the district, this resulted in a successful pilot program with the AMS PE classes last year, with over 120 students training for a 2-week block.

These techniques can be scaled for any level, from elementary school through adulthood, as prevention against both bullying and sexual assault (modeling the No Means No Worldwide program). Though delayed by the pandemic, the plan is to extend this program into all grade levels. Participation is voluntary but should be accessible to all students who wish to participate.

As a physician and mother of four children, I feel passionate about giving our children the tools they need to be confident and secure, and I would like to see the school district continue to build this program to help create a culture of safety and respect for all students.

No Means No Worldwide
“We’re teaching the Impower System to a global network of partners that are preventing rape on a massive scale.”

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Erin’s Law
“‘Erin’s Law’ requires that all public schools in each state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program which teaches:”

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Kids Happy In Ashland

left quotation markAshland in many ways reminded me of my own childhood and immediately felt like home.right quotation mark

 

left quotation markAshland in many ways reminded me of my own childhood and immediately felt like home.right quotation mark

 

My Background

I was born and raised in Princeton, NJ. My parents were both immigrants who came to the US in the aftermath of World War II. I was educated in K-12 public schools and went to Stanford followed by medical school at U.C. San Diego. I completed my training in radiology at Harvard Medical School and subsequently joined the faculty as an instructor before deciding to return to the West Coast to practice medicine and raise a family in a smaller community.

Ashland in many ways reminded me of my own childhood and immediately felt like home. I am passionate about our community’s children and schools and I want to maintain Ashland’s tradition of excellence as we find our way past the COVID pandemic, while acknowledging that there are many areas in which we can still improve.

I would like to bring that passion as well as my background in medicine to the School Board as we enter the difficult and complex conversation about where we go from here.

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2018 OBOB Champions!

left quotation markI am passionate about our community’s children and schools and want to maintain Ashland’s tradition of excellence as we move past the COVID pandemic, while acknowledging that there are many areas in which we can still improve.right quotation mark

 

left quotation markI am passionate about our community’s children and schools and want to maintain Ashland’s tradition of excellence as we move past the COVID pandemic, while acknowledging that there are many areas in which we can still improve.right quotation mark

 

Endorsements

Suzanne Cusick, former ASD Superintendent
John Williams, AHAA President, former ASD School Board member
Dr. Cynthia Hutton, Director, Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon
Betsy Bishop, Director AHS Theater
Jackson County Democratic Party
Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon
Progressive Oregon Women

 
 
Planned Parenthoold of Oregon Endorses Becka for ASB

Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon endorses school board candidates across the state who believe our young people deserve to have comprehensive information, resources and skills to make the best decisions for themselves and lead their healthiest lives — as well as support from their families, schools and communities to set goals for their future and decide for themselves if and when they want to become a parent.

 
 
Planned Parenthoold of Oregon Endorses Becka for ASB

Progressive Oregon Women endorses all women candidates that promote progressive values in Southern Oregon.

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Becka On Board