Sami Graham

Age: 61

Family: Bruce, husband of 36 years

Occupation: Life long learner, retired educator

Previous government experience or community involvement: 25 years in public education, teacher, counselor, asst. principal, retired as principal.

Highest level of education: Master’s of Science, and Master’s of Ed Leadership

What is the latest book you’ve read? Or, what book do you recommend and why?: The Last Train to London, by Meg Waite Clayton. A well written book about a member of the Dutch Resistance transporting Jewish children out of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Why are you running?

The students of Anchorage deserve better than 40% proficiency in math and ELA. We can do better!

What is the role of the school board as it relates to the school superintendent and the operation of the district?

The school board sets policy and represents the students and parents of Anchorage. The superintendent is the administrator and sets the wheels in motion.

Do you support public money funding education in public schools? (Yes-No) Why?

Yes. We use a combination of local, state and federal funding to create the ASD budget.

Do you have children in Anchorage public schools now? How did they handle pandemic virtual learning? If they attended in the past, how was that experience?

I attended the local neighborhood, Anchorage schools as did my three children. They are all college graduates.

Can the ASD continue to afford so many different schools of choice? Could these many options be a distraction from the mission of excellence for all students?

The schools of choice have some of our highest student outcomes and add to our mission of excellence. We need to capitalize on the successful models and make them accessible to all students.

What ideas do you have to incentivize the best and brightest teachers to come to this district and do great work? What ideas do you have to encourage teacher longevity?

Recruiting and recognizing excellent teachers is imperative. We need an accredited teacher certification program in Anchorage. Salaries need to be competitive.

National studies indicate closed schools and/or prolonged online learning has not been successful for all. What ideas do you have to recover this learning loss?

It is important to examine the data and determine which programs were successful and which were not. Virtual school has concerning data and yet the district is considering continuing. Learning loss needs to be met with targeted instruction, as soon as possible.

I wrote a legislative grant that funded a summer library/pre-school library program while I was principal. It is important to get students comfortable with schools again, and give them access to books. There is a school library in every neighborhood.

How will you reach out to the different community constituencies to hear concerns about their students’ education?

Staying in touch with the different community councils is a great way to hear community concerns.

Given the rich diversity of our school district and community, what is the best approach to equitably meet the needs of all students, regardless of socio-economic differences?

Students have different learning styles and needs. It’s important to make great programs accessible to all students. Either transporting students to the programs, or making the programs available through neighborhood schools will improve equity.

What ideas do you have to ensure that English Language Learners and students with disabilities have equal learning opportunities in the Anchorage School District?

All students need to be taught in their least restrictive environment. It is important that we staff accordingly.