RAINA PARA
CONSEJO DE EDUCACIÓN

DE WHITE PLAINS

DÍA DE ELECCION

18 MAYO 2021

Conozca Raina,

Yo nací y crecí en White Plains, y estudié en el Distrito Escolar de White Plains, empezando en la Escuela Primaria de Church Street, después a la Escuela de Secundaria de Eastview, y finalmente, al Liceo de White Plains. Estas escuelas, y los maestros y administradores dentro de ellas, creyeron en mí, me apoyaron, y me brindaron las oportunidades que me han convertido en la persona que soy hoy. Y quiero devolver el favor a los estudiantes de hoy, siendo el próximo miembro de el Consejo de Educación de White Plains. 

Como mujer joven de color de la Generación Z y recién graduada del distrito, soy la candidata más representativa de nuestras escuelas y traeré una perspectiva nueva y muy necesaria al Consejo, y una conexión más directa con las personas a las que sirve nuestros estudiantes. Con la perspectiva de mi experiencia reciente en nuestras escuelas, así como las relaciones cercanas que tengo con las familias que aún atraviesan el sistema escolar de White Plains y los maestros que dan forma a nuestras aulas, tengo una comprensión única de lo que las escuelas, el Consejo, y la comunidad pueden hacer para ayudar a nuestros estudiantes a sobresalir.

Mi tiempo en las escuelas de White Plains estuvo lleno de muchas experiencias positivas y desde que terminé mis estudios he tratado de retribuir y brindar a los estudiantes las maravillosas oportunidades de aprendizaje que tuve. A través de mi trabajo con los clubes de Embajadores Globales, Westchester Modelo Naciones Unidas, y comenzando la beca “It’s Her Time,” he ayudado a los estudiantes a mejorar sus habilidades de liderazgo, perspectivas internacionales y ampliar sus perspectivas para el futuro … pero sé que puedo hacer más. Quiero ser el miembro de el Consejo que los estudiantes de primaria, secundaria, y liceo conocen: alguien que puede priorizar las voces de los estudiantes junto con la de sus padres, y los anime a alcanzar altas metas.

El Distrito Escolar de White Plains ha usado más de $7 millones este año escolar en modificaciones para reabrir nuestras escuelas. Mientras que el distrito ha logrado grandes avances en estas mejoras, existe la posibilidad de hacer más. En este momento, nuestro distrito tiene una oportunidad de $9 millones para invertir en nuestro distrito escolar y nuestros estudiantes como resultado del Plan de Rescate Americano (American Rescue Plan). Como su próximo miembro de el Consejo, me comprometo a trabajar para asegurar que recordemos el año 2021 no como un año de COVID-19, sino como un año de oportunidad uno en el que nuestro distrito escolar y la comunidad podrían mejorar.

 Apoyando A Nuestros Estudiantes

No se puede negar que todos han enfrentado un año increíblemente desafiantemaestros, padres y especialmente estudiantes. Entre hacer frente a los impactos de COVID-19 en la familia, las interacciones sociales y las calificaciones; el trauma de la escalada de las tensiones raciales y la violencia en todo el país; y los desafíos típicos de crecer, nuestros hijos tienen mucho que afrontar.

Como miembro de el Consejo de Educación, yo lucharía por las necesidades de salud mental de nuestros estudiantes mediante el empleo de más consejeros y profesionales de la salud mental para ayudar a nuestros estudiantes a obtener valiosas herramientas para la resolución de problemas y educación emocional. También lucharé por una mayor visibilidad de estos servicios para que los estudiantes de todas las edades estén seguros de que hay alguien a quien contactar en un momento de necesidad, alguien que los apoyará para enfrentar sus desafíos de una manera saludable y productiva. Quiero asegurarme de que los estudiantes tengan acceso a adultos capacitados y confiables a medida que avanzan con los desafíos que brindó el año 2020 y comienzan su año escolar sabiendo que su salud mental es nuestra prioridad.

Accessibilidad en la Educación

La pandemia de COVID-19 también nos ha enseñado que es posible aprender e interactuar con las clases de forma remota, aunque el aprendizaje remoto no es ideal para todos. Sin embargo, a medida que hacemos la transición de regreso a cursos totalmente presenciales y comenzamos a retomar la normalidad en las escuelas, no debemos olvidarnos de la infraestructura digital en la que hemos confiado durante el año pasado. La capacidad de los estudiantes para hacer la transición entre el aprendizaje en el aula y la participación desde el hogar puede brindarles la oportunidad de tener éxito incluso cuando la enfermedad u otras circunstancias les impiden un registro de asistencia perfecto, sin crear un esfuerzo adicional para los maestros. Al continuar ofreciendo actividades extracurriculares y tutoría a través de las reuniones de Zoom además de en persona, podemos asegurar que los estudiantes que no se pueden quedar después de la escuela aún tengan acceso a estos recursos para tener éxito. Como miembro de el Consejo de Educación, quiero asegurarme de que todos los estudiantes estén equipados con las herramientas para trabajar desde casa de una manera que les ayude a tener éxito. Una de las primeras acciones que me gustaría tomar antes de que finalice el año escolar 2020-2021 es escuchar directamente a los padres, estudiantes, y maestros para evaluar qué salió bien y qué salió mal con su educación en línea. Creo que es importante comprender de qué se beneficiaron los estudiantes y con qué lucharon para que podamos aprender de este año pasado y planificar en consecuencia para el futuro.

También propongo que invirtamos en consejeros de alfabetización dedicados a nuestros estudiantes de escuela primaria. Para los estudiantes que están aprendiendo inglés como segundo idioma o que luchan con dislexia y otras dificultades de aprendizaje, tener tiempo dedicado a trabajar en mejorar las habilidades de lectura y escritura del idioma inglés puede ser invaluable. Los estudiantes están en camino hacia sus clases de Honores y AP desde una edad muy temprana, entonces los estudiantes que tienen dificultades en la escuela primaria se quedan fuera de los programas en los que pueden y deben participar en el futuro. Los tutores de alfabetización, incluso los virtuales, pueden ayudar a cerrar esa brecha para garantizar que ningún niño se quede atrás.

Diversidad y Decencia

White Plains is blessed to have such a diverse district where students can grow into open-minded global citizens. However, as the last year has reminded us, it is important to still invest in every individual student and faculty/Board member’s cultural and racial sensitivity. Diversity training looks vastly different between elementary, middle and high schools teachers, faculty and Board members, but I believe it’s absolutely imperative that all staff and education leaders experience and internalize the benefits of diversity training. Given the diversity of our district and our schools, our educational leadership is required to ensure that everyone in our schools are treated equitably and that our district staff is able to respond effectively and appropriately when we hear that someone is not. Reimagining our approach to cultural sensitivity will go a long way toward combating bullying.

It’s also time for our school’s curriculum to match the diversity of its student body. The books we have students read, or not read, and the history we choose to focus on and teach them, all impact the ways students view the world and their peers. Students should learn, from an early age, to be proud of the color of their skin and the country their families came from and while some students may already know about their heritage, for many of their classmates school is their first and sometimes only introduction to other peoples and cultures. As a member of the Board of Education, I want our schools to provide more options for student reading lists and open their minds to the experiences of others. Our history, English language and current events classes should discuss the achievements, perspectives and great works of African, Latin American and Asian men and women just as much as they teach about Europeans. Our students should be able to identify other cultures’ perspectives and engage with material contextually rather than just through memorization. Students who relate to the material they learn are far more likely to be engaged and perform better.

Sostenibilidad

The White Plains School District has already made sustainability a priority and accomplished a great deal since doing so, such as our introduction of electric school buses – but this is only the first step. As a member of the Board of Education, I would make sustainability a key priority, holding us accountable to follow in Port Chester’s footsteps by decarbonizing our schools’ infrastructure and ensuring that our money is invested in renewable energy sources instead of carbon-heavy ones. I want to work with our schools and ensure that we are on track to becoming carbon neutral within two years and one of New York State’s first carbon zero schools by 2030. By laying the groundwork to evolve existing systems and infrastructure to green-friendly versions at the end of their natural lifetime, we will incur no added capital costs or stranded assets in taking on this green revolution. Not only will the school district save on fuel costs in the long run, but in time we will also be able to sell excess energy back into the grid during the summer months, when energy is consumed sparingly by our schools.

Even more importantly, I want to empower students to make an impact on our strategy during this transition by engaging our science educators, local sustainability clubs and organizations and student groups across the school district to participate in the monitoring, researching and strategizing of how to gradually reduce our emissions. Teaching while applying sustainability practices in schools are proven to reduce absenteeism among students, benefit the health of students and staff and even increase test scores. It will also give students STEM and sustainability educational experiences, critical thinking skills and practical knowledge of a rapidly growing field that they are likely to engage with for the rest of their lives.

Preparación para Carreras

Our schools do an excellent job of preparing our students to take the next step into college, but we should not rely on colleges to prepare our students for the rest of their lives – and their careers. White Plains is fortunate to be home to professionals from all walks of life, with our proximity to businesses, startups, research centers, and more just a short train ride away in New York City. I want to work with our local community to expose our students of all ages to the range of career opportunities available to them in the future and the chance to make meaningful connections and relationships with our city’s professional talent that can prove to be invaluable when they are searching for internships and job opportunities.

Our high schoolers should have the opportunity to take advantage of practical experiences that put them one step ahead of their peers when we send them to college. I want to work with our high schools to provide the opportunity for students to learn real-world skills like interviewing, resume-perfecting and networking. Keeping in mind that college is not for everyone, this program will also provide students who are passionate about developing vocational skills the opportunity to network with our community and connect them to apprenticeships and internships.

Moreover, our elementary and middle schoolers deserve the opportunity to hear from and look up to community members with exciting and inspiring career paths so they can know from a young age and that these accomplishments are possible for them too. 

My connections with the White Plains professional community have helped me pursue many of my early opportunities, and my eventual internship at the United Nations as a high school senior was one the most impactful experiences of my life. When I got to college, my resume stood out from my peers’ and gave me a leg up in attaining whatever position I pursued. Were I to be the next Board of Education member, I want to give all White Plains students that same opportunity to kick-start their dreams.

Local Leadership & Impact

2019-2021: I returned to White Plains after four years completing my undergraduate degree in Boston and abroad. I returned to work as a Marketing Analyst at Mastercard in nearby Purchase, NY and to resume my local impact.

  • I founded the “It’s Her Time” College Scholarship for young women who are graduating from high schools in White Plains alongside the Friends of the White Plains Youth Bureau. We will be awarding $1,000 college scholarships to four accomplished young women in White Plains who demonstrate a dedication to serving their community.
  • I founded and ran the Westchester Model United Nations Conference, Westchester’s first recent Model United Nations Conference, with the sponsorship and support of the United Nations Association of Westchester and the Westchester Youth Bureau. We brought together students from all over the world, including several from White Plains, to engage in dialogue, debate and diplomacy about relevant local and global issues as a way to keep students engaged with current affairs and develop their public speaking skills, even during the virtual limitations of COVID-19.
  • I began mentoring young women in Westchester for college and career readiness through the Her Honor mentoring program.
  • I joined the Board of Directors of the United Nations Association of Westchester as Young Professionals Co-Chair and Social Media Director.
  • As Philanthropy Chair of the Mastercard Women’s Leadership Network, I help to organize the annual local “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” walk, clothing drives to provide professional clothes to those in need and period products drives to help alleviate period poverty in our communities.
  • I established the Urban Refuge app in Westchester with the goal of helping urban refugees in our local community access trustworthy aid in the languages they are most comfortable with.

2010-2015: I served as Vice President of my class for all four of my years at WPHS and served as President of the Mayor’s Youth Council.

Over the course of middle and high school, I was the President of Global Ambassadors, one of the largest service organizations in the White Plains schools and co-founded Global Ambassador INTERACT and REACT News over the course of middle and high school, engaging over 200 students over the years to learn about global issues, create positive news segments and participate in local and global service projects. Together, we raised over $2,000 to build fresh water facilities for a girls’ school in Nyanza, Kenya. I also ran Global Ambassadors programming in every single White Plains school, engaging students K-12 in Global Ambassadors art-service projects that supported philanthropy efforts like girls’ education, natural disaster relief and fresh water all over the world. We also volunteered at the local Ronald McDonald House, cooking meals for children with cancer and their families.

About

Raina was born and raised in White Plains by immigrant parents who own a local small business and work at the White Plains Youth Bureau. She grew up immersed in youth programming thanks to her mother and the Youth Bureau, and developed a passion for leadership and Indian food, thanks to her father. She holds a degree in International Relations with a concentration in Security Studies from Boston University and is currently pursuing her MBA at Johns Hopkins University, concentrating in Leadership and Innovation. She works as a Marketing Analyst at Mastercard, is the CEO of a nonprofit called Urban Refuge and serves on the Board of Directors of the United Nations Association of Westchester. She is the author of two books: “The Voice of Thunder” and “Ignite Your Story.” She has been recognized for her work by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, the Walt Disney Company, Claes Nobel, the Clinton Foundation, Mastercard and others. An explorer at heart, she has traveled to 33 countries in the last 6 years and in her free time, you can find her lost in a good book or on a new hiking trail.