Stephanie Hernández-Jarvis, School Board Candidate

on January 31, 2018

Stephanie Hernández-Jarvis, a teacher in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, is running for the school board on a platform of improving teacher retention, the school climate and student academic and learning outcomes.

Hernández-Jarvis, 27, once an undocumented immigrant, also considers herself a strong advocate for immigrant rights.

“It’s not about security for me; it’s about using the privilege I’ve gained,” Hernández-Jarvis said. “That’s why I’m doing this.”

Hernández-Jarvis, a resident of Pinole, launched her teaching career in West Contra Costa in 2014. She lived in Berkeley at first, but soon moved to Richmond and then Pinole. During this time, Hernández-Jarvis also became a mother, which she said re-enforces her teacher identity.

Hernández-Jarvis said that until this year, West Contra Costa teachers earned the lowest salaries in the county. This year, the board adopted a roughly 15 percent teacher pay raise, making the salaries the highest in the county.

Hernández-Jarvis says the pay raise has been helpful, and that it will improve the low teacher retention in the district. But other improvements are also necessary, she said, such as creating more professional development opportunities.

Emphasizing her understanding of the challenge teachers have historically faced in the district, Hernández-Jarvis described her first time teaching in the district. She recalled walking into the first day of class expecting basic classroom materials, like pencils and paper, to be provided. Instead, Hernández-Jarvis said, she had to buy the materials herself.

If elected, Hernández-Jarvis says she would like to re-center the conversation on helping students. She also said that she wished the board was more visible and accessible, and recalled that she had only seen one board member—Tom Panas—visit her school.

“I know this is politics, but I think it’s a lot of adult-centered politics,” Hernández-Jarvis said. “I think we need to have more child-centered conversation.”

If elected, she said she would aim to collaboratively involve each stakeholder — teachers, board members, students and parents — to a greater extent.

“I don’t think that teachers are complacent,” she said. “I think that our board needs to have a vision about what we need to do as a district to support the people at the school sites.”

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