Nichelle Nichols is challenging incumbent Arlene Silveira in the race for seat one on the Madison Metropolitan School District's Board of Education.
Nichols said she brings experience from the nonprofit world, serving the folks who are failing in Madison schools. She said thinks that is an asset in overseeing the district's curriculum and vision.
"We need board leadership that really understands what our current student body looks like, what some of the challenges are," said Nichols.
A West High School graduate, Nichols said she's a proud Regent. But grades 9-12 are part of where she sees the school district's biggest educational breakdown.
"I really think that we have a strong foundation in elementary schools and need to work harder at our middle and high school level to really keep kids hooked in," said Nichols.
Nichols said schools don't always factor in upbringing in keeping kids connected to the real world.
"Because we're a majority minority school district, we also have to embrace teaching strategies that really weave in people's cultural backgrounds, and help kids feel like there's something meaningful and relevant to them," said Nichols.
If elected, Nichols said her focus will be the core curriculum as an across-the-board way to do the most good.
"I'm not as keen on just adding new programs and more programs when we don't have the foundation strong," said Nichols.
Results are what she expects, for students and for taxpayers. Her career has been mostly in the nonprofit sector, where financial supporters demand accountability.
"Show us your outcomes, how much money are you spending the participants that you serve, what are the change in behavior, the change in skills, what are you actually doing with these dollars," said Nichols.
As an Urban League employee, she said she knew from the start she'd have to abstain from all votes on Madison prep, or any other league-related issue. She said that is proof she's running for the entire district.
"We're not doing a good enough job in cultivating the talent and the potential in our academically talented kids. I don't think we're cultivating the potential in a lot of our low-income children, who are disproportionately low income," said Nichols.
Her hope is to close the gap in achievement with the help of a fresh perspective.
"I just felt like i could bring something to the board that is desperately needed," said Nichols.
Nichols is supportive of more classroom support and cultural training for teachers. Nichols said the classroom makeup looks a lot different now than even 10 years ago. And Nichols, like all the other candidates, would be very happy to see the district roll out a better student evaluation system.
Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a four-part series profiling Nichols and the other three candidates vying for a seat on Madison's school board.