Candidate Q&A: Chresta Brinkman |

Candidate Q&A: Chresta Brinkman

Editor’s note: Steamboat Pilot & Today has asked each of the local candidates in the 2021 Election on Nov. 2 to participate in a Q&A to better inform voters, asking the same questions related to each specific office. Visit for the latest election news and information.

Chresta Brinkman is running for Steamboat Springs School District Board of Education.

Chresta Brinkman.
Courtesy photo

Why are you running for school board?

I am running for reelection for school board as I greatly value and am passionate about education. I have been honored to serve the past two years. My professional and personal background provide me with a well-rounded perspective on education. My community involvement supports my understanding and engagement in our community. Our focus as a school board over the past two years has primarily been triage. It is imperative to me that we are focused on moving out of a pandemic mode into an endemic mode, where we can address key concerns. Three of our greatest needs are: addressing COVID-19 learning gaps, revisiting our district strategic plan that supports 21st century skills in critical thinking and providing creative learning experiences for career and college preparation while focusing on K-12 articulated improved culture and climate.

What improvements would you make to better facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas between parents and the school board?

I appreciate this question as I have spent a great deal of time trying to understand this better. The board has finally been able to implement a monthly Coffee with the Board, providing greater accessibility for parents and community members. I believe this can be very effective in facilitating better communication. I am also very passionate about fully utilizing our School and District Accountability Committees as strong tools to ensure that parents’ voices are being heard. These meetings can provide an opportunity for dialogue, understanding and for a solutions based approach towards addressing concerns in our district. Personally, being open to dialogue has been helpful for me to listen to and understand the concerns of my constituents. This is something I am very dedicated to, and I feel that this is important to me to continue to facilitate communication with the board for both parents and community members alike.

Where do you stand on introducing critical race theory into our schools?

The definition for Critical Race Theory, CRT, is as varied in its definition as its academic application. The American Bar Association defines Critical Race Theory as “… a practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in society that emerged in the legal academy and spread to other fields of scholarship. Crenshaw — who coined the term “CRT” — notes that CRT is not a noun but a verb. Though not a curriculum, it is considered an academic concept. Many people vary in how CRT tenets inform this into practice in schools. I support teaching history in our schools, as well as teaching our students to critically think about how race has shaped policy, law and application in our society. I do not support teaching our students what to think or feel nor will I ever support an environment that is detrimental to any student’s emotional or mental health.

How will you ensure that curriculum and its delivery is fair, balanced and aligned with Colorado state curriculum guidelines?

As a former special education teacher this question lands near and dear to my heart. I am passionate about equal access to unique learning opportunities for all students. Students with disabilities are ensured a free and appropriate public education through the Individuals with Disabilities Act. The Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Act of 1994 supports our Gifted and Talented population, which I would like to expand. I support the Emerging Bilingual Program that addresses appropriate access for students who speak other languages. I will prioritize opportunities for STEAM programming and college and career training opportunities, such as Applied Engineering Sciences, for our students that align with and creatively address state standards articulated K-12. I encourage the additional professional learning days supported by the board to allow for educators to focus on delivery for this fair, balanced and aligned programming throughout the district.

Steamboat Schools rank well in the state, where do you see opportunities to improve academic performance?

Education is always changing. Generationally, instruction evolves into a more informed approach to learning. We have expanded in our knowledge as a society about learning styles, communication and awareness of those with unique learning needs. In practice, I observe teachers implementing these learnings, increasing the ways in which they connect with students. Examples of this instructional innovation include: building a nearly classroom length whale in an elementary classroom for students to crawl into and discuss their unit in Marine Biology; applying a financial literacy lesson at the middle school by leading students through the the development of a budget and marketing plan to sell a popcorn product; and offering experiential classes at the high school level, such as Biotechnology Research. I believe supporting teachers in developing these types of instructional opportunities will allow for a more engaged approach to learning and will yield increased academic performance.

How would you rate the school district’s response to COVID-19, and what would you have wanted to see done differently?

I feel the district rated well in addressing equity concerns. For example, providing access to Chromebooks, a grant to increase access to reliable broadband, supplying lunches for all students, providing child care for employees to keep schools staffed, anticipating academic gaps and allocating resources for those gaps through interventionists, mental health professionals, tutors, etc. Given what we have now learned about low transmission rates in schools that utilize strong mitigation efforts, it would have been ideal to have kids in school full-time starting August 2020.

However, I am proud that we took a measured approach at the time by instituting the hybrid model, balancing community concerns around potential in-school transmission with in-person learning priorities. I am also proud that we pivoted to full-time in person once our most vulnerable were able to get vaccinated, and it became clear that the school’s instituting proper mitigation efforts were not seeing significant in-school transmission.

What is the primary purpose of the board of education, and in your role, do you feel you represent/speak for a particular group (faction, party, constituency, etc.)? If so, who?

A board of education has many primary purposes, such as ensuring that the superintendent is managing the schools in accordance with federal law, state law and the school board’s policies, overseeing the district’s budget, building support and understanding with constituents to ensure that the district is open to the feedback of their community members and focusing on student achievement and educational goals. I am committed to always being receptive to conversations with community constituents. I am not beholden to any one facet of our community, and I respect, value and represent all community stakeholders. I strive to listen and understand what is being conveyed to me through these conversations. It shapes my lens as I approach my role on the board. It is my priority to engage in meaningful communications with community members and to represent all as I serve on the board of education.

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