MVLA High School Board Race: Thida Cornes Focuses on Academic and Emotional Support for Students | New

Thida Cornes, who is seeking a seat on the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District board of trustees, says she wants to help create schools where every child, regardless of background, has a chance to succeed.

“I’m running for the board because I’m committed to ensuring that all of our students feel connected, challenge themselves, and thrive,” Cornes said.

She is one of six candidates vying for three vacant seats on the school district’s board in November. Only one incumbent, Catherine Vonnegut, is a candidate for re-election. Esmeralda Ortiz, Eric Mark, Jacquie Tanner and Carrol Titus-Zambre are also campaigning for board spots.

Cornes unsuccessfully ran for Mountain View City Council in 2016. She served on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission for eight years and served as vice chair of the city’s environmental sustainability task force. , from 2017 to 2018. She also founded Great Streets Mountain View to improve road safety.

As for schools, Cornes said she has served on various committees in the Mountain View Whisman School District, including the district’s facilities committee. She also said she served on her children’s elementary school APE and the school site council.

In an interview, Cornes said her experiences as a disabled mixed-race immigrant and parent are what drive her public service. Cornes, whose mother is Burmese, suffers from non-progressive dystonia, a neurological movement disorder.

The experiences of her two children also shaped her perspective, Cornes said, adding that she wants all MVLA students to have their needs met. Her son was in MVLA special education and after attending public schools until eighth grade, he went to a private high school to meet his needs. Her daughter was a high-achieving student who was denied a transfer to be with her friends. She started at an MVLA school, but transferred to a high school where she had friends.

If elected, Cornes’ top three priorities would be to improve mental health and wellbeing supports, ensure students can succeed academically regardless of background, and work on financial accountability and transparency.

When it comes to mental health, the issue is personal, Cornes said, as members of his family have had mental health issues.

The district has tried to address the need, Cornes said, but she added that stigma can prevent students from accessing resources. She wants the district to focus more broadly on mental wellness, not specifically on mental health issues, to increase the number of students who feel comfortable asking for help.

“I really think the school has done a lot of work on mental health, and I think mental well-being needs to be front and center,” Conrnes said. “We have to get teenagers to ask for help, and that’s the first step.”

She added that it is important for mental health services to be culturally sensitive.

When it comes to academic success, Cornes wants to make sure all students get the access and support they need. Cornes went to high school before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 and said that while some of her teachers were wonderful, others assumed she wasn’t smart and felt she was she had to prove herself. Low-income African-American and Hispanic college students told him of similar experiences, Cornes said.

“It’s also something that’s personal to me — and something I’d really like to address, to lower those barriers and get students the help they need,” Cornes said.

She wants the school district to assess the needs of underserved students over the summer, so they can get help quickly.

Cornes is also supportive of increasing enrollment in alternative pathways like Alta Vista, the district’s alternative high school, Middle College, where students attend community college and MVLA Adult School, as well as programs like AVID, which helps prepare students for college.

She supports the ethnic studies program the district is piloting this fall and plans to roll out to all freshmen in the next school year.

In terms of transparency, Cornes thinks the district needs to better inform parents about council meetings. She plans to create a monthly newsletter with district updates. She also wants the district to be more proactive in getting feedback from community members on its building projects.

“I consider understanding the needs of my constituents to be an important part of being an elected official,” Cornes said.

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