VOTE JULIE STEELE OLATHE SCHOOL BOARD
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Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is an integral part of human development. The skills learned contribute to the ability to manage emotions, develop healthy identities, achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy, and make caring decisions. These skills are vital for students’ lives, no matter their career choices. The Olathe School District includes SEL across all grade levels throughout the year and it’s measured through the Panorama surveys delivered three times per year to all students. You can read more about it here:
Panorama Olathe Schools
Raising global citizens who see beyond their own community has always been important to us as parents. Tim and I want to raise humans who see just how vast the world is and how others live and think from other countries. A great experience we had as a family was the chance to host a French exchange student, Louis, for one year. The Rotary Youth Exchange inspires young leaders to serve as catalysts for peace and social justice in the world. Louis certainly was a catalyst for our family and will always hold a special place in our hearts. I encourage you to consider hosting a student. Your family will be changed for the better!
This blog is a snapshot of the posts that are on the Vote Julie Steele social media accounts. Enjoy!
One of the many things I respect about this amazing campaign is the Teen Council that is comprised of students from various high schools. They are working to remove the stigma of mental health by educating others and encouraging the sharing of stories. September is #SuicidePreventionMonth and knowledge is power. There is no single cause for suicide, there are risk factors and warning signs which may increase the likelihood of an attempt. Read about the risk factors, protective factors and warning signs shared by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
AFSP Risk Factor
BEING A CHOIR AND THEATER MOM BROUGHT ME SUCH JOY AS A PARENT!
I love that the Olathe School District offers so many options for students to participate in fine arts. The many ways our kids can become involved in choir, band, musical theatre, painting, pottery and so many other disciplines. It is said that in order for the fine art culture to continue to stretch its legs, grow, and transform, it’s essential that education in these fine arts continues to be supported. It is, after all, a main source of conservation of history from the beginning of time. Watching our kids show the discipline it takes to prepare for a musical, a band concert, or a choir concert has been humbling. We have watched them learn so much – from work ethic to creative expression, dogged determination to flexibility – all to contribute to a combined final presentation. We are truly blessed in Olathe to have these amazing opportunities for students.
Providing teachers the mental and emotional health support they need is such an important need. Teachers provide the social, emotional and academic support our students need. But are we supporting them just as well? I love this Ted Talk by educator Sydney Jensen where she shares the tough aspects of teaching, all the feelings our great teachers take home with them, the "secondary trauma" of the emotional weight of their students' experiences they absorb.
As a former Olathe teacher and as a member of the Olathe School Board, this is one of my focuses – to find stronger and better ways to support our amazing teachers’ mental health.
BEING A SPORTS MOM BROUGHT ME SUCH JOY AS A PARENT!
I’m so proud of the Olathe schools for the many different opportunities afforded to our kids through sports. To have options that provide a range of sports adds to a well-rounded education. With four active kids we have lived the Sports Family life of soccer, football, baseball, softball, basketball, track and golf. There are so many lessons learned on the playing field that supplement the great educational teaching offered here in Olathe – leadership, sportsmanship and most of all TEAMWORK. I’m grateful for all the years of being a Sports Mom and seeing the many benefits for our kids.
A friend of mine once told me that her favorite ‘holiday’ is Back to School because there is so much excitement and anticipation! Summer fun is winding down and kids & parents alike are seeking routine and regularity in a day-to-day schedule (even if the kids won’t admit it!). This year feels especially poignant for many of us as we remain grateful for the shift from where we were as a community even one year ago. And while we will need to remain vigilant and aware of the ever-changing recommendations, let’s CELEBRATE Back To School for both in-person and the new Olathe Virtual School!
For there to be true transparency you must do more than preach about it. Transparency is only possible when you actually practice it. Julie is dedicated to transparency, not in concept but in reality. That’s why she was there to speak with the Olathe Reporter for their interview. It’s why she was one of only two candidates to participate in the LIVE candidate forum last week. And it is why she is producing videos that will be posted soon to share with you who she is and where she stands – in her own words. Transparency is about openness, communication, and accountability, three things you can count on from Julie when she is serving on the Olathe School Board.
Why should school districts go beyond the yesteryear focus of only teaching reading, writing and arithmetic? As Oprah Winfrey credits Maya Angelou with teaching her, “When we know better, we do better.”
Bloomberg came out with an article in November 2020 titled, “Why Inclusion Matters Now More Than Ever”. I‘ve had the opportunity to refer to it more than once in business. In short, 𝘄𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗼𝗴𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿. If that is true in the business world, which will affect all of our youth in some way in their future- either as consumers, employees and/or as employers, then we have a responsibility to start now preparing them for 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙞𝙧 future.
It’s shocking to realize that up to 20% of youth in the US experience a mental, emotional or behavioral health condition every year, according to the CDC. And yet, nearly half of those kids don’t receive any mental health services.
I believe we need greater access to mental health services in school so we can identify those who are at risk. It’s a setting the kids find natural, allowing for direct access, and it can destigmatize the need for mental health support. In addition, teachers and staff will gain knowledge and techniques to support the emotional well-being of our students. Imagine if we instituted check-ins as a normal practice for our kiddos. Students would feel much less ‘exposed’ when seeking help inside the school if every student has a regular check-in. 𝙇𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙, we must always be open to improving our mental health supports for students.
Tonight I had the opportunity and pleasure to participate in a forum sponsored by League of Women Voters of Johnson County KS
and Mainstream Coalition
. While I may not have slept well last night from anticipation, it was worth it. Not because everything rolled off my tongue the way I wanted it to, but because it was an important thing to do. Voters deserve to hear from those of us who wish to represent them in an elected office. This kind of transparency is important. In fact many voters that have contacted me have asked about my stance on transparency. Showing up today for this forum is proof that transparency is important to me as a leader.
This is the only live forum event before the primary on August 3. The recording will be released and I will post it here. Get your popcorn ready!
Special thanks to Tiffany Seaman, the only other candidate to participate. It was a pleasure to meet her and hear about her passions. I look forward to our paths crossing again.
Olathe has increased in population by 50,000 people in the last 20 years with an increase of 12.91% since the most recent census in 2010. And while our current population is just over 142,000, some estimates peg us growing to 300,000 citizens within 20 years. Our city has been very proactive in planning for new schools as needed & has been good stewards of tax dollars. Under Julie’s watch as a Board of Education Member, we will continue to strike a balance between addressing growth & maximizing the value of tax dollars spent. This fiscal responsibility and acumen are vital in our BOE and it’s one more way that Julie is 𝙇𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙. A vote for Julie Steele is a vote for our kids’ successful futures! VOTE AUGUST 3RD www.votejuliesteele.com
A new day is dawning for public education in Kansas! After eight years of losing ground in funding due to inflation from 2009 to 2018 and disruptions from the global pandemic in the last 18 months, the Kansas Legislature has approved a plan to restore lost funding over six-years.
In addition, the federal COVID aid is expected to total over $1.3 billion ($830 million for Kansas) that will be spread over the next four years. 𝙇𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙, guiding the appropriate spend of these funds will fall to the new Olathe School Board and will be vital to supporting the programs we need for our students and teachers. https://kansasreflector.com/.../kansas-public-schools.../
Such a beautiful tribute to Ally Baier. Our community makes me #OlatheProud
For those of us educated in Olathe, Ralph Dennis is a legend. He spent 43 years as an educator in Olathe junior and senior high schools, is an Olathe Wall of Honor Distinguished Person and has touched more students' lives than I can even imagine. Most people just call him Mr. D. and the lucky ones received an angel coin from him at some point. He very deliberately places it in your hand and says, “You have been visited by an angel.”
Well, this week I got to visit that angel in his home and reminisce about my time as his student. He always had an encouraging word and truly saw kids who needed to be seen. My passion is to make sure every kid has a Mr. Dennis during their school years. His example serves as the inspiration for me to push for stronger recruitment and retention of amazing educators and administrators in Olathe. Having this time with Mr. D. was so special and as I walked away clutching that brand new angel coin he pressed into my hand, I made a promise to live up to his example of service and compassion. Having Mr. D endorse my run for the School Board is such an enormous honor.
Running a campaign doesn’t just take an army, it takes a family. The hours spent and energy expended is only possible with my family supporting me and being okay with my attention divided. It especially takes the support of my husband who sacrifices time with me while doing double parenting duty.
Tim is a very special human. I knew it the day I met him, and he has continued to show me every day just what a gem I fell in love with. If I hadn’t known all he was before we went on our first missionary trip to Calcutta as a newly married couple, I certainly learned it then. Tim worked inexhaustibly to provide hearing tests and treatment plans for the kids in India who had no access to these medical needs. I watch him show up for people every day at our Audiology Practice, for our family and for the community. I am forever inspired by his grace, care and dedication. I love you, Tim. I’m so grateful to spend our 26th anniversary by your side.
The Kansas Association of School Boards shared goals and measures set forth for Kansas schools that the State Board of Education and the Kansas Legislature have established. Local boards are free to add to these goals but, at a minimum, our local district is measured by data that matches the state outcomes. The State Board of Education has set four other goals for which districts can be recognized: social and emotional growth, kindergarten readiness, individual plans of study and civic engagement. The Olathe School District already has a focus on these goals and 𝙇𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 I’m excited to contribute to even greater success.
The adage that “when you love something, it doesn’t feel like work” couldn’t be more true right now. No matter how long the days, connecting with voters in Olathe refuels me. We had an inspiring & dynamic day of reaching out to Olatheans this weekend and you can tell by the smile on my face just how much I loved it!
𝗜 𝘀𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗹𝘆 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗼𝗳 𝘃𝗼𝗹𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝘃𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗮𝗺𝗮𝘇𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗢𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗼𝗹𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗜 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱𝗻’𝘁 𝗱𝗼 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺!
During the years spent at Olathe North High School I was guided and grown by amazing teachers and staff. Each of these educators added so many layers to my lifelong passion for learning and teaching. I remember so vividly the impact Mrs. Keating had on my desire to touch students’ lives as she did. Somehow, she was able to show us that we were each loved as her own and none of us ever doubted it. I pride myself on the connections I made with my students as well as their parents.
Mr. Kifer also shaped my teaching style. How he was able to teach Physics in the most amazing hands-on way which guided my teaching style of actively engaging and connecting with my young students. There have been, and continue to be, so many amazing educators in Olathe and it makes me proud to see how selfless and dedicated they are to support students. I’m excited to share that coming soon there will be a special message from a former Olathe North teaching icon, one of the heroes of the classroom who inspired me so much!
I have always looked up to my Dad, Jim. He was my first hero in life, and he set the bar high for what integrity and honestly look like. I watched my Dad selflessly serve our community for more than two decades on the Olathe City Council and his dedication to public service is a big part of my desire to serve as well. As much as I admire him for those traits, it’s the small day-to-day moments that inspire me even more. Seeing the love he has for my Mom, the way he shows up for his kids (even as adults we rely upon his counsel) and the fullhearted way he pours his love into all his grandkids is the true mark of who he is. As Father’s Day approaches tomorrow, I want to express my love to my Dad, and wish all Dads a weekend of fun and family.
Leadership cannot exist without a commitment to continued learning. Juneteenth has become a new National Holiday this year. To learn more about Juneteenth, here's a video that we can watch with our kids to help facilitate deeper conversations & better understanding.
A culture that prioritizes safety is vital for our kids and their trusted teachers. We need to carefully scrutinize the people we allow to be around our children and swiftly hold them accountable for any actions not in alignment with safety. Parents entrust schools with the safety of our children and it must be our highest priority. Our children deserve it, and our amazing teachers deserve it.
𝙇𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙, we have several areas of obligation to better ensure our children and staff are safe. We need to institute additional oversight and routine audits of our school Human Resource department; we must better empower leaders at the building level to evaluate staff performance and to be a part of decision-making regarding staff retention; and the administration must communicate in a timely and clear manner to students, parents, and the community if a personnel situation arises. These proactive steps will create a greater level of accountability and responsibility and there is nothing more important than that to prioritize this necessary culture of safety for our kids.
Hearing words of encouragement from so many past acquaintances and friends since announcing my candidacy for the Olathe School Board has been heartwarming. The outpowering of support is amazing and the many offers of donations and the level of volunteerism is exciting. But it’s the strangers who step forward that really gets the team invigorated.
My daughter, Caroline, and several other volunteers were at a local Panera this week, making calls to voters. After about an hour of calling a couple seated nearby walked over and introduced themselves. They don’t know me personally, but they are both retired teachers and expressed to Caroline how excited they are to know I am running for the Board. They handed her cash as a donation and said I have their votes. This level of support, especially from veteran teachers, is humbling. It’s energizing. And it is why we won’t stop 𝙇𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙!
I served on the Portrait of a Graduate committee as a member of the community and contributed to the vision that was developed of what we want every graduate to encompass by the time they graduate Olathe schools. 𝙇𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙, each graduate, whether heading to trade school, college or stepping into the workforce directly, needs the skills to succeed. To build these skills we need to return to our Strategic Plan and meet students where they each are so we can deliver on our promise to grow their competencies in the six core areas listed in the Portrait of a Graduate.
A mission defines your purpose, but it takes vision to extend that mission to success. Tapping into the wisdom gained from past experiences is important but to be truly successful we must be able to also envision what the future can be and then create and execute strategic plans that deliver on their promises. This is my focus when I am elected to the Olathe School Board…to look forward with vision while building out tangible plans that support our students, our educators, and our community. Join me in 𝙇𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 and vote Julie Steele for Olathe School Board in our August 3rd Primary. Visit www.votejuliesteele.com
to learn more.
Last night’s school board meeting had an inspiring moment when Nancy Ingram spoke. She is my friend and a long time supporter of our community, specifically the Olathe Public schools.
If you haven’t had a chance to hear her, I encourage you to do so. I’ve always been inspired by Nancy and her determination to offer the best of herself for the betterment of others. Nancy is one of the first people I spoke to when I filed back in April to run for school board. I will carry her words of encouragement from that conversation with me always. Knowing that she played a key role years ago in developing our district’s mission statement is no surprise:
Students Prepared for 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 Future.
After the statement was crafted she took a look at it and suggested, or maybe implored, that the word “their” needed to stand out. She wanted to be sure that we were being clear about our vision of preparing students for 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 future, each journey unique and personal.
The emphasis on 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 is because of Nancy‘s leadership. Such insight & inspiration! She was thinking of the community of people it would inspire from students to teachers, and administrators to even the community.
I look forward to working for all Olathe students as we live out the vision:
Students Prepared For 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 Future.
we honor and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so America can continue to be the home of the free, because of the brave. Today has been designated as a day of prayer for permanent peace with 11:00 a.m. marked as the time to unite in prayer and reflection. Tim and I, with our family, will be taking a moment to contribute to this focus on peace as well as observing the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time. My deepest gratitude to the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Every day in our home we battle against Dyslexia. It’s a complicated diagnosis but it’s even worse before you know what is wrong. It’s hard and it’s emotional.
Our amazing daughter is super smart, and it took years to realize she had dyslexia because she was compensating for the effects of dyslexia. Finally, the demands of her grade level curriculum exposed just how hard she had been working to understand her assignments.
The tears of frustration we had experienced while trying so hard to help her with homework came without the understanding of what she was truly battling. We are lucky to have the resources needed to get her tested privately. It’s not lost on me the blessing it is that we were able privately navigate getting her tested, and to subsequently get her therapy. My heart aches for families without those resources who are facing issues like this.
This is finally changing in our district… and it is past time. In-district resources are going towards training teachers and providing programs that are funded by the $3.2 million literacy grant that we have access to for three years. As these vital programs become more accessible and universal, we can better assess and treat dyslexia in the school setting. That way, all kids can be supported to learn past their challenges. This is yet one more example of how Olathe School District is always advancing their strategies and techniques to prepare students for a successful future! I look forward to being a part of those decisions when I am on the Olathe School District Board.
In my family I’m known as a huge celebrator. If there is a milestone, I’m going to be there to mark the occasion. If there is a triumph, no matter how small, I am going to be the cheerleader! This last week has pulled out all the “feels” seeing the many posts celebrating the graduating seniors in Olathe.
I love every proud graduate smile, each beaming parent, and all the images of siblings looking up to their older brother or sister. There is a saying that I love that goes like this, “the days are long, but the years are short”. Any parent who has seen their child through 12+ years of school understands that sentiment. I certainly do, now that three of our kids have graduated from Olathe Northwest High School, with our fourth child on her way there soon.
I guess what I love most about seeing these graduates is the knowledge that our schools have set them up for success – no matter their path. We do a great job mentoring students in the second half of their school journey to embrace a future doing what brings them joy. Whether that is as a mechanic, a doctor, a performer, or a rocket scientist. I see such excitement in their eyes as they take the next step into their futures. The same look I have seen in the eyes of our Bo, Meg and Caroline at their graduations as they each take their own unique pathway.
Congratulations to all our graduates of 2021. May you find true happiness following your dreams!
One of the core values that runs through the veins of my family is service. Service to the community, service to the world in total and service to God. To us, service means showing up. You can see the many ways my loved ones have shown up, for generations and for decades, to serve Olathe. I have always been inspired by the selfless way my parents, siblings and extended family have given of their time, talent and treasures to make our community better. It is infused into so many of the ways I spend my time and attention – at work, in our family, and in the community.
Service doesn’t often come with public recognition so you can imagine my surprise when I received a call this past Friday from Mr. Barackman, Assistant Principal at my daughter’s Middle School, asking if I might come by early to pick up Kate. My heart raced, as I am sure it would for any parent getting that kind of a call. He assured me that there was no problem & nothing to worry about. I even asked him, “Do I need to bring my mom voice because you know I am team PRT!” He laughed and assured me my mom voice was not needed.
When I arrived at school all three Principals were waiting for me in the front office and the entire office staff stood up. Assistant Principal Stoskopf shared that, due to my “incredible support of the administration and teachers throughout this crazy year” they wanted to give me the one and only ‘Dr. Yurkovich Community Service Award’. Dr. Yurkovich was the amazing Principal that my older three kids were privileged to have guiding this school when they were there. I have always had so much respect for her and to receive this award in her name is such an honor.
It further inspires me to continue to show up for our kids, staff, teachers and administration as they navigate ever-changing times. They deserve to have someone on the Olathe School Board who has lived and breathed the challenges all teachers face during a normal year, not to mention this past year. I am excited to continue to serve!
In just six days now since announcing her campaign for Olathe School Board, of which she was the FIRST to file for back in April, Julie has reached OVER 1,000 PEOPLE through her website www.votejuliesteele.com
and this Facebook page! Those connections have translated to a volunteer team & several financial contributions! She is humbled and thankful for your confidence. She will RUN HARDER than any other candidate and she brings her experience as a former Olathe student (2nd grade to graduation!) and as a former Olathe educator to the Board! She does not take your financial contributions, your hard-earned money, for granted!
She’s YOUR candidate!
My awkward tweenage years at Santa Fe Trail Jr. High were made so much better by the great teachers who were gifted at handling the oddities that accompany those years. Mrs. Wallace, Mr. Banks, Mr. Stephens, Mrs. DeGraffenreid, Mrs. Ollenberger… all great people. Some I still get to be in touch with today. I was active at school playing cello in the orchestra, singing in the choir, and joining the drill team. I rode the bus every day and got picked on by another girl, which was awful. I remember how hard it was to feel there was no one with whom I could share those troubles. Once my own kids were in the Olathe Schools, I was grateful for the anti-bullying messages & campaign that has helped adults in the school be more aware & has also helped so many kiddos.
It’s these sorts of proactive programs we need more of in the Olathe Schools. The School Board and Olathe Schools Administration need to continue to innovate so we can support all our kids, especially those who are most vulnerable. As much progress as we have made in some areas, there are vast gaps to better support our students of all races & ethnicities, our LGBTQ+ kiddos, and all those who feel “different” and picked on. My dedication to becoming a School Board Member is to open the lines of communication with the families in Olathe who need more from us so that no child feels unheard or unseen for their brilliance.
Thank you for all the enthusiasm around my announcement of running for the Olathe School Board. Looking back, it is no surprise I became an educator. When my family moved to Olathe in 1979, I started my educational journey through the Olathe School system at Northview Elementary. My second-grade teacher was Mrs. Dalsing and she set the bar high for how to be a great teacher. This picture of her may be grainy, but what she taught that little girl next to her is very clear. She set the cornerstone of my love for learning.
I was blessed to be guided by, and pushed by, remarkable Olathe teachers all the way through to my graduation from Olathe North High School. I remember every classroom like it was yesterday. Those experiences impacted me mightily as I can recall the moments in those rooms so vividly (Miss Stillwell always had a fresh flower, Mrs. Royer always wearing Levi’s and teaching us girls not to get caught up in brand-names & Mr. Pettyjohn’s smile!) and yet I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday.
It's that impact that drives me to serve on the Board. Our children, staff and teachers need the support and understanding from someone who grew up in this District and went on the become a teacher herself. As a School Board member, I will dedicate every decision toward what is best for our children so each of them can feel as blessed as I do today!
I am thrilled to announce that I have filed to run for the Olathe School Board to represent District 3. I grew up in the Olathe School System and so have all four of our kids. I have always been passionate about public schools in general but even more so our amazing schools right here in Olathe.
I graduated from Olathe North High School (Go Eagles!) before achieving my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at KU and then my Master’s Degree in Special Ed (Early Childhood) at Emporia. I returned from college to serve as an Early Childhood Special Education teacher at Heatherstone Elementary and then on to Walnut Grove Elementary. I’m also very proud of my work with Infant Toddler Services of Johnson County and for having started two Kid’s Day Out programs, one if which is here in Olathe at the Grace United Methodist Church.
My experience in education, both as a classroom teacher and a mother of four very different kinds of learners in our own children, has taught me how important it is to grow and change, especially for an organization like the Olathe School District.
As a member of the Olathe School Board, my focus will be to support the continued funding necessary for our vital programs and exceptional staff. But I am also excited to share the ways I believe we need to meet the evolving demands of preparing our students for the future.
Like this Facebook page to hear more and check out my website at https://www.votejuliesteele.com/
. I appreciate your support and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally with any questions at Julie@votejuliesteele.com. I look forward to putting words into action as I help Olathe to grow into the future.