By Okon Ekpenyong
Christina Vera, a candidate for the Columbus City School Board, is the oldest daughter of two hardworking Puerto Rican parents who came to Columbus, Ohio with the dream of educational opportunities and creating economic self-sufficiency. As a resident of Columbus, a Brookhaven High School graduate, a wife, and the mother of three Columbus City Schools former and present students, Christina Vera told New Americans magazine that she is “truly vested in our community.” She is an Advisory Council Member at Otterbein University through the Women’s Leadership Network; an alumnus of Project Diversity Cycle 20, the Latina Mentoring Academy Cycle 1, LEAD Ohio, and Ready to Run at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.
As a CCS alumnus, and the mother of CCS students, I have seen and understand the need for effective change in our district. I’m running because I believe every child in the Columbus City School District deserves a progressive education that will prepare them with the tools, foresight, and support they need to succeed in and outside of the classroom, regardless of their zip code. Out of 109 schools (46,852 students) in our district, 63 schools still need significant building improvements, including essentials like proper ventilation systems, heating, and cooling.
Facilities are a priority area to me and many others simply because our students deserve a safe, supportive, and functional learning environment. Facility conditions can impact teacher recruitment, retainment, and commitment. Not being able to recruit and retain top teaching talent directly impacts the quality of education that our students receive. If elected, I will advocate alongside everyone from educators, parents, and community members to state education representatives and legislators to create progressive curriculums that have a focus on social emotional learning while implementing and expanding programs like financial literacy, entrepreneurship, home economics, and trade programs. It’s time for change and our students deserve better.
My expertise is rooted in organizational leadership and multi-project management. I have spent 13 years as an executive strategist working in the nonprofit and small business sector. I have led, supported, and developed teams through innovative strategy and effective communication to influence positive change and build organizational capacity. With the collaboration of many stakeholders, collectively we have developed and implemented enrichment programs, tutoring services, and life skill development opportunities for youth and families here in central Ohio.
I have had the privilege of working alongside stakeholders from several school districts, social service agencies, and Fortune 500 companies. Also helping to Co-Found a non-profit organization called Femergy® that has a vested interest in the development and support of middle and high school age girls. Serving the families of Central Ohio has been and will continue to be some of the most impactful experiences I have ever had.
This entire process has been very eye-opening to the additional foundational gaps not only within our school district but really in our city as a whole. Hearing from our community members, parents, school nurses, other elected officials etc. I gather we all for the most part want the same things but there is division. There’s a lack of trust and there’s not enough people at the decision-making level who are truly listening and understanding our community’s needs. However, this experience has only resolidified why I’m running and why I need to be elected. This race is bigger than just me as a candidate. This is about equity and advocating for what’s right while helping to ensure we are putting people before politics.
It’s time for effective leadership that is willing to go the extra mile to advocate for CCS students, parents, teachers, and staff members and put their needs at the forefront. Our city has grown considerably these past few years, but our district enrollment numbers do not reflect that growth. We have now reached a point where it is time for us to decide as a community what we want our district to become, where we want to go, and how we want to get there. I ask anyone who is reading this to know that your vote is your voice and the only way we create change in our community is to show up, vote, support, and advocate for the things our community needs and deserves. This November 2nd, I hope to earn your trust and support by voting for me, Christina Vera, Candidate for Columbus City School Board.