July 14, 2024

Whole Community News

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Martina says farewell; 4J board applications due April 18

7 min read

There are two openings on the board of Eugene School District 4J. Martina Shabram announced her resignation at the March 16th board meeting.

[00:00:08] Martina Shabram: Tonight I am going to use my time to announce some news, which I have already shared with my peers and our superintendent. And that is that this week I am submitting my letter of resignation from the board, and that will be effective at the end of March.

[00:00:22] This is not a decision that I have taken lightly or made cavalierly. What has happened really is that my life has changed a lot in the last three years. I’ve been appointed interim executive director of Sexual Assault Support Services, the nonprofit where I’ve worked for the last couple of years, and the changes in my professional responsibilities and relationships and duties make stepping down now both the best choice for me personally,

[00:00:46] and I feel the most ethical choice that I can make. So I am not happy to be leaving and certainly not happy to be leaving before the superintendent search is complete. I didn’t feel that it was appropriate in particular for me to participate in this next stage of the search. If I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to complete it.

[00:01:04] And that is why it felt important to do this now. So. If my peers will give me just a few more than my regular three minutes. I’ll say that serving on this board has been one of the great honors of my life. I’ve met incredible people and I’ve worked with brilliant staff and I’ve seen inspiring education happening in so many spaces.

[00:01:22] And I’m so incredibly grateful for that. But I ran because young folks who I love a lot asked me to, and I wanted them to see that it could be done. And not all of those kids are still with us. And I think that says a lot about how hard the last few years have been. And so this moment seems like a really good one for us all to take stock of everything, of, of how we’re moving through the world and what we’re spending our time on and how we’re treating one another. I really want to encourage all of us and by all of us, I mean, board members, I mean community members. I mean everyone, to really take a moment to consider what our expectations of ourselves and others are and whether those expectations are realistic or humane or compassionate or kind.

[00:02:05] And for this role in particular, as we move forward with an appointment, well, as you move forward with an appointment process, I want us to really ask ourselves whether we want this job, whether we want public service to only be accessible for those who, you know, are able to dedicate what has, for me for the last year, amounted to 20 or more hours a week of labor.

[00:02:28] And that’s not realistic in my life anymore. And that’s something I’m really sad about. So my resignation is effective at the end of the month, because over the next two weeks. I’m going to work to support my peers in this transition, particularly Judy and working with you, Judy, as as my chair has been such a gift. And so I am going to spend the next two weeks doing what I can to make this transition a little bit easier.

[00:02:56] After March 30th the board will decide how to structure a process of appointing a community member to complete the remaining one year of my term. I won’t be part of that process of course, not as a board member. But I have every confidence that these six wonderful people will select someone who will serve our community well. I have so much faith in all of you, and it’s been truly an honor to serve with you.

[00:03:19] John Q: The other board members expressed appreciation for Martina’s service.

[00:03:25] Judy Newman: You know, it’s been a little speechless losing Martina for me, so I just have to really publicly thank her. I really had to talk her into being my vice chair this year, have a coffee. I didn’t know, but I’m really appreciative. I know where you are in your career and how much extra time it’s taken. So I’m very appreciative that you said yes, because working with you has really been a joy and a privilege. And I’ve really learned a lot and I will really miss you personally on the board. I know the board, everyone’s expressed how much they’ll miss you. I know our community will, too, for sure. And the youth, but the community as a whole. So I also wish you all the best and please stay in touch with us. And thank you. Thank you for the many, many hours you put in, and talking things through with me.

[00:04:23] Maya Rabasa: I’m going to channel Martina’s dedication and steadfast focus on uplifting student voice and experience. And I had a conversation with Martina already, so she knows how I feel. And, I have a lot of strong feelings about Martina moving along, and I know that we can’t fill her shoes, but I hope that we can carry forward her dedication, particularly to the student voice and student experience, which I share passionately. And I wish you well, Martina, and the work that you’re doing outside of the board is so tremendous and I applaud you for really prioritizing it and not compromising it.

[00:05:00] John Q: Laural O’Rourke also channeled Martina’s dedication to students, remembering those who took their own lives.

[00:05:06] Laural O’Rourke: 4J educational system as it stands only acknowledges part of the whole child. We focus on education. We push them towards those grades. We tell them what they need to do to get it done, but we’re missing a part in this. We’re missing the part that shows the child their worth, which is just as important and can be done in school and is done by other different kinds of school.

[00:05:36] When all effort is extended toward the goals surrounding education, we ignore the self-worth. Self- worth is what sustains you through perceived failure. We are failing our children. The efforts we have in place for student mental health are the equivalent of a dollar store Band-Aid for an aortic hemorrhage.

[00:05:56] What we have now funnels to Peace Health. Peace Health’s system is to take a child, remove them from their parents if they are dealing with suicidal ideation, they get removed from their parents, taken to a room by themselves, told to strip, must wait hours for a counselor to show up, and then when released have nothing. I know this because I’ve faced this with my own child. My child reminds me to this day, who is now an adult, how traumatizing and horrific that experience was. No kid will do it twice.

[00:06:38] We do not have a system in place that protects these kids.

[00:06:43] The Band-Aids need to stop. The performance—with the people that somebody asked to show up at our public speaking part tonight—needs to stop. It’s not—it doesn’t do the work. It’s a performance. It’s political. It’s not real. That is why we still are losing children. Yes. We have systems in place. They’re not enough.

[00:07:06] We need to do more. We need to do more. I am heartbroken that we keep losing children and then the same kind of Band-Aids keep being put into place.

[00:07:24] Gordon Lafer: It’s hard to figure out how to talk after the… depth and importance of that and thank you, Laural, for the straightforwardness and importance of what you said.

[00:07:37] Beyond that, I also want to say thanks to Martina. She and I worked very closely on some things, disagreed on others, and she’s given so much of her time and her intelligence. Her hard work after already doing hard and critical work in her paying job and all of this, as I know, and as she said, comes above all from the commitment she has to students and to students having a voice that matters in the school system. I know that was the origin of her decision to run for the board. And I think it’s been her guiding star for all the time she’s been here, and we’ll miss that on the board.

[00:08:14] Alicia Hayes: We’ve had some good times. And I do appreciate it and I didn’t know quitting was an option. Dang. Thank you. Thank you very much. I completely understand. This is a become quite a a lot to do while you’re also trying to work full-time,

[00:08:33] Mary Walston: I want to start off by thanking Martina for her service to the kids in this district. I really appreciate it. We had a brief conversation the other night about it. So I just, I really appreciate it. I won’t go over it again here, but please take care of yourself and, you know we will miss you. Yeah. And I’ll leave it right there in terms of my public comments.

[00:08:52] John Q: Mary would also resign, creating the second opening on the board. The two new members will be selected this month. Applications are being taken through eight o’clock in the morning on April 18th. To apply, see the 4J website.

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