Early voting is underway in North Carolina and Election Day is March 15th. New Hanover County School Board member Lisa Estep hopes voters move her through the primary to the November ballot and an eventual second term.
This mother of five is one of the two Board members who have kids in the New Hanover County School system. One of her own children has special needs; that, in fact, was the reason Lisa Estep decided to join the Board of Education in the first place.
At the beginning of her term four years ago, a group already existed to promote collaboration and problem-solving among parents, teachers, and administrators dealing with kids who had special needs. But the group wasn’t very active or powerful, says Estep.
“My first aim coming in was to change that. So now the group is called ACES -- the Advisory Council for Exceptional Students. We are doing parent forums. We are doing a lot more outreach, providing more information. We’ve built a new website. These parent forums only came about last year. The format we have is called, ‘Keep it, change it, dream it.’ -- what’s working, what’s not, what would they like to see going forward.”
Estep is also passionate about her work as co-chair of the group that’s creating a new career and technical education (CTE) high school with the unanimous approval of county commissioners. Upon graduation, students will receive a high school diploma and credentialing from Cape Fear Community College.
But if she didn’t have real-world constraints on money, time, or consensus, Estep says she’d still focus on children with special needs -- whether those needs come from learning disabilities or the psychological and physical impacts of poverty.
"I would triple the counseling that we have. I would have mental health support. I would increase recess, and I would make the recess meaningful by having yoga or meditation starting at the very youngest of ages because studies have shown that that really does work."