Reynoldsburg Board of Education
Debbie Dunlap has served on the Reynoldsburg Board of Education for the past 4 years. During this time she has ensured that all children’s needs are met despite gender, socio-economic group, or neighborhood. Debbie was inspired to run for a seat on the board of education after a teachers strike in Reynoldsburg. Debbie is a strong believer in the rights of teachers and the role they play in the education of our children and the future of our nation, and felt it was her duty to step up and advocate for the staff and students. Debbie’s past leadership roles have prepared her to be a member of the Reynoldsburg Board of Education. They allowed her to find her inner strength and voice to not only advocate for herself, but for others.
In 2020 Debbie will continue her work as a Reynoldsburg Board of Education Member.Facebook
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
As a parent of three children, I have always been very active and involved in their education.I have volunteered countless hours for numerous activities, in programs like Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H and various school-sponsored events. I loved the work! As a writer, my career covered many aspects of reporting to include radio, public affairs, and print where the majority of my writing centered around education. When Reynoldsburg was on the verge of a teacher strike in 2014, I was moved to action. A number of concerned parents met in the living room of one of our most active community members where we asked ourselves, “What can we do to help?” We formed a PAC called Raider Strong and used that voice to advocate for our kids and quality teaching environments in our schools. We were able to mobilize our community in a time of tremendous difficultly, advocate for our children, and advocate for our teachers – at the heart of the educational process. I became a very vocal part of that movement. In the months afterward, I took a look at my advocacy and decided that my voice might have an even stronger impact as an elected official. I chose to run for the Reynoldsburg Board of Education in order to be that changemaker, putting kids and classrooms first. While not always easy, the past four years have been very rewarding and impactful. As an advocate for ALL children in Reynoldsburg now, not just my own, I hope to continue this journey for another four years.
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
My mother has been very inspirational to me. As a single mom of five, I watched her continuously struggle with challenges that could have easily been key to her defeat, struggles she tackled with strength and a dedication to her children that had a direct result on each of our successes today. After working a number of jobs that did not provide for her family (one which was an assembly line assignment in a factory where she was harassed for taking away a position from another man), she returned to college to earn her bachelor’s degree in education. She worked hard at shielding us from the common struggles of poverty as she worked toward that degree, one time making all of our gifts at Christmas which we saw only for the time and love they represented. Today, all five of her children are very independent, great problem-solvers, and successful in life. I feel blessed that she raised me to advocate not only for my children, but for children everywhere.
Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and leader?
I call myself (jokingly) a Jack of all trades, master of none. In truth, I have learned to adapt my career to my family and my journey over time. I have served as a radio news director, director of public affairs, newspaper reporter, free-lance writer, substitute teacher, and stay-at-home-mom. Each has shaped me into the person I am today. As a writer and reporter, I have been blessed with telling the stories of hundreds of people, meeting folks from all walks of life who have not always been inspirational, but certainly are impactful. I walk away from every interview with something new that I can apply to my own life, or a new insight into something that I never knew or imagined. My reporting took me to foreign countries, tent cities, into schools and playgrounds. It took me face-to face with serious criminals and the gentlest of teachers and caregivers. Young and old alike, there is always something to learn. As a substitute teacher, I have been given boots-on-the-ground insight into today’s schools, and the reward of inspiring today’s youth. And as a stay-at-home-mom, I have had the pleasure of raising three great kids and being a fierce advocate for each one of them. Each of these roles has built the foundation upon which I lead and advocate for students and others.
The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?
By the year 2028, I envision Reynoldsburg City Schools providing a quality and equitable education for our students, one where students, teachers, and staff operate in a respectful and inclusive climate and where coming to work and to class is fun and inspiring. This is noble for certain, but it is my vision, something I work towards every day. By advocating for equitable state funding, meeting students where they are in their educational process, providing for each school and student equitably, incorporating creative and project-based learning, paving the way for wrap-around services, and crafting strong leadership and a respectful climate and culture, I believe we can achieve this vision.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
One of the top issues we still face in Reynoldsburg is fostering trust in our school community. Even though we are five years away from the strike and have made tremendous progress, old wounds still come to the surface. The trust that was eroded many years ago still needs constant cultivation. With strong leadership, increased transparency, and more open involvement with our parents and community, we have made significant progress. But I still feel the ripple effects of lingering mistrust which I work to overcome in collaboration with fellow board members, our administration, and our dedicated staff. The best programming in the world is worthless unless there is a climate of trust where staff turnover is minimized and parents’ voices are heard. I feel our second top issue that Reynoldsburg faces is funding. We have a growing community that may soon need new classrooms in which to educate all our students. That’s a great problem to have! But because of the state’s over-reliance on unfair, tax-based funding, Reynoldsburg is often left short when it comes to providing a quality and equitable public education. Through aggressive grant writing, creative alternative methods to funding (like our new Education Foundation), and community partnerships, we have been able to stretch our dollars. But because levy dollars do not increase at the same pace as inflation, and state dollars for communities like Reynoldsburg are capped, we know we will face a funding shortfall down the road and be forced to return to taxpayers to decided whether or not to provide further funding for our students. Locally, we have put strategies in place to tackle these issues, and my advocacy at the state level will continue.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
I am a certified SCUBA diver and have visited waters around the globe logging over 100 dives in murky ponds, fresh lakes and the Mediterranean. I have seen one shark, one sea horse, more barracuda than I would have liked, and countless other species which are some of the most colorful creatures in the world. Although having children has put a hold on that part of my life, it was incredible to take them to Key Largo and share this experience with them while snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park several years ago. My son took that experience one step further last year and dove the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Seeing and experiencing the quiet beauty of underwater life puts everything into perspective.