Meet your RISD Board of Trustees candidate: District 2’s Vanessa Pacheco – Lake Highlands

Photo courtesy of Vanessa Pacheco

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

District 2: Vanessa Pacheco

Why have you decided to run for this position?

I’m campaigning because I believe that every child, family, and resident in the district needs a voice on the school board. Our community contribution is vital to our students, by representing RISD, I will work to support our students’ and educators’ needs to enhance education for readiness in a world economy.

I believe in transparency and the use of budgeting and financial analysis to make fiscally responsible decisions. Being a part of planning and improving current plans by creating efficiencies and collaboration to ensure that what we have is adding value to our district.

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I’m prepared to provide responsible support and innovative solutions that will improve our school system. My focus is to encourage success, use my experience and leadership to plan a strategy that will prepare students and support educators. Together we can enhance community support and establish a strong educational foundation for all students.

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

I have an MBA in Global Leadership, from the Naveen Jindal Business School at UT Dallas. There I was able to refine my finance and leadership skills, including working with multinational teams. I graduated as a scholar with distinction and was inducted in the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

My professional work experience of commercial real-estate acquisitions/divestitures, capital requests and due diligence provides me with a strong business acumen to make valuable decisions for programs that support our students and educators. I am process improvement expert and am prepared with a unique set of analytical and organizational skills to transform ideas into plans with adequate strategies and leadership that will benefit our diverse demographics in District 2. Prior to working in real estate, I was a professional translator providing me a unique understanding of the needs of language learners.

My children have attended RISD schools from the elementary school level and now both are in high school. As a parent, I’ve learned of the many challenges and accomplishments RISD schools experience at all levels. I’ve been involved with PTAs [currently a Golden RAM member], fundraisers, have volunteered for various causes and arts initiatives throughout Dallas and Richardson.

If elected, what policies will you advocate for?

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The policies I’d advocate for would be reducing inefficiencies in school operations with increased planning. Enhancing and providing increased support to programs that contribute additional opportunities that help our students thrive including. I would also support the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity policy throughout the district with ongoing training and education for everyone, including students. I would promote the awareness of student mental health and campus safety by strengthening our programs, including improved training to the support teams. I’d work on reducing classroom size and extend class time, doing so would improve overall learning and understanding of the subjects taught.

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What do you like about RISD?

Our educators are passionate about their students. Many of them go above and beyond to encourage, assist, and foster dialogue with our students. The diversity represented in RISD is magnificent, our students have an added opportunity of learning from each other. The positive energy and desire to do more is perceived, with adequate strategies and innovation we can elevate RISD to upward trend of increased success.

What don’t you like about RISD?

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Areas of improvement are the large class sizes; more schools are slated to request waivers to increase class sizes above the 22:1 state ratio. Although we have opened all-day PK, it is still limited and reaching more children will improve their success in the long-term. Finally, our low college/work ready average rates. Although they graduate, many are not seeking to take college entrance testing or enroll in 2-yr programs. Based on 2017 graduates, only 49% took the SAT. Results are slowly improving and based on the curriculum offered, we should have more students working towards improving their future opportunities and choices.

What changes are you hoping to make?

I hope to support our teachers and invest in our students with programs and activities that will help them contribute on a global scale. I want to promote a well-rounded education that opens the minds of our students so they can take the lead and have successful careers. Ensuring that we give our educators adequate teaching time, tools and training, and continued support to students who experience external hardships.

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

The culture of RISD is adjusting to represent and incorporate the demographics of the students. It is struggling to move quickly with these changes, yet it has maintained a high standard of thoughtfulness for students and preserving effective educators throughout all grades.

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What would you like constituents to know?

With your vote, we can give our students an excellent education foundation (at all levels) that ensures increased college and workforce success so they can be successful contributors of our society and the world-economy.  Every action we take to help one another is not insignificant. When we mentor or provide ideas to our youth, we help reframe their point of view into something that may otherwise be considered impossible.

I grew up in the bi-national community of El Paso, TX and am a proud student of public-school education. I was taught that no industry/field of study is out of reach, tolerance, and diplomacy at an early age. I’m highly focused and resilient. These character traits have enabled me to make my dreams into realities. I’ve surpassed expectations and was encouraged by amazing educators. It has not been an easy path, but it has been rewarding. I am a firm believer that education improves our socio-economic condition, increasing with each generation.

With fiscal responsibility, transparency & community engagement; RISD can prepare our students, with a 360 approach, for this world economy.  I’m confident that with my experience, cultural knowledge and education – I will add value and foster positive outcomes for RISD.

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

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