Election 2020, Gilroy Unified School District: Melissa Aguirre: Make decisions in students’ best interests

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Melissa Nicholson Aguirre. Submitted photo

Melissa Nicholson Aguirre understands the concerns and frustrations from those on both sides of the Zoom screen.

Aguirre is a second grade teacher in the Morgan Hill Unified School District, and the oldest of her two children is in first grade in Gilroy Unified.

“I understand the challenges teachers and families in our community are facing during distance learning since I am currently teaching second-graders through Zoom,” she said. “Teachers: I get it. Parents/guardians: I get it.”

Aguirre is hoping to bring her experience as a teacher to the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Education by seeking the Trustee Area 6 seat in the November election.

Born and raised in Gilroy, Aguirre has 14 years of experience as a teacher at a variety of grade levels, including second, fourth, fifth, sixth and Special Education. She also spent five years mentoring new teachers from Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade.

GUSD needs to focus on retaining its teachers, which loses about 20 percent of the teaching staff annually, according to Aguirre.

“Teachers that live in Gilroy should be able to afford to be teachers in their home community, so let’s pay them better and provide impressive benefits so they do not have to seek jobs outside of Gilroy,” she said. “We can also discuss ways to better support our teachers, professionally. One way to do this is by providing teacher mentors to our new teachers, as recommended by the state.”

Reducing class sizes is also something the district should be considering, Aguirre said, adding that students and teachers can be much more effective in a smaller setting. The district should look at its budget and find ways to steer toward this goal.

“I have experienced both ends of this as a teacher and it’s amazing the difference a classroom of 20 second-graders feels like compared to a classroom of 26 second-graders,” she said. “Teachers do their very best, day in and day out, regardless of how many students are on their roster but every additional student spreads a teacher further and further.”

Aguirre, who has taught Special Education and is married to a Special Educator, said finding ways to improve the educational environment for students in those classes is also a priority.

If elected, Aguirre said she would work to establish open communication between her and her constituents in order to address issues.

“I know the job will not be easy, but I have the experience and heart to fulfill all duties,” she said. “Please know that with any issue that arises, I will always ask myself and others, ‘Is this what is best for students?’”

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