School Boards in Action: 5 Questions with Carrie Flanders, Brea Olinda USD

Carrie Flanders, school board president, Brea Olinda Unified School District

What does your district have planned for the 2022–23 school year to foster learning recovery and educational advancements?

Brea Olinda Unified School District has invested in school counselors, intervention teachers and two new program specialists to provide assistance with Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) and other Tier 1 supports at all of our 10 schools. It is also a priority for staff to focus on wellness as that impacts learning recovery as well. Building connections with students to better understand their needs will foster student engagement. In addition, Brea Olinda High School has added AP Capstone courses to broaden opportunities for advanced learning. AP Capstone will challenge students beyond the regular curriculum, helping to develop the skills required for success in higher education and the professional world.

Please describe the current morale in your district. What is the board doing to improve or maintain it?  What types of professional development priorities or supports do you have planned for teachers and staff?  

The last two years have taken a toll on public education everywhere. BOUSD is no different. The morale of educators, parents and especially the students has suffered enormously. Our job as board members is to support the efforts of the district to help heal, repair and improve the morale, as it is tied to academic success and mental health.

In Brea, we have committed to professional development that can prioritize and support our staff so they can support our students. The FranklinCovey organization will provide the Four Essential Roles of Leadership professional development to our leadership team. This training is designed to unite our team to be able to accomplish trust building, vision casting, strategy execution and coaching. Our principals and cabinet staff will focus on the Four Disciplines of Execution for Educators. At our sites, our counselors and psychologists will provide appropriate tiered support by working with teachers to deliver social and emotional learning lessons and individual counseling for students. MTSS will be supported at all sites by our MTSS coach, instructional coaches and program specialists.

What are some ways the district is sharing positive news and/or support with families and the community?

BOUSD is using several platforms to reach our families. Several social media sites are utilized daily, to not only push out information and resources of support, but also to highlight group and individual student achievement, district successes and awards, important board discussions/decisions and calendar reminders. Our website is kept current with the same information. BOUSD has an excellent partnership with our city leaders and local nonprofit organizations who also support our schools and help get information out to the greater community of Brea.

What is one thing you’d most like to accomplish during your time as a trustee and why?

Anyone involved in education knows that there are a million little (and big) things going on at the same time. Goals start big and encompass numerous initiatives that hopefully get us to the main goal. Sometimes it’s not easy to see the difference we make because change happens so gradually. I tend to dream big, which means picking just one accomplishment as a trustee isn’t possible for me.

So, when asked what my ONE accomplishment would be, it would consist of many layers to get there. What I want most is for EVERY SINGLE student who comes to BOUSD schools to feel seen, heard, understood, respected and accepted just the way they are. I also want them to feel included by adults and their peers. I want them to learn in an environment that is safe. My biggest fear is “missing” or overlooking even one student who needed us. That’s what keeps me up at night. I feel BOUSD considers these things in every decision made, but this work is still never 100 percent accomplished. It’s a constant work in progress. It’s what drives us. When my time is up on the board, I want to feel like the decisions I made moved us towards achieving this.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy traveling. I love any type of travel, by motorhome across the country and by plane to Fiji, Belize, Costa Rica, Spain, Ireland, etc. Kauai is my home away from home where I spend several weeks a year chasing sunsets and rainbows, hiking, biking and enjoying the slow feel of island life!

I also enjoy any time I get to spend with my family. I have a husband of 30 years and four grown kids who are all off on their own adventures. So, any moments I can get with them, I cherish more than they will ever know. Traveling with my family is the best of both worlds for me.