Ask the Candidate: Henk Kruithof

Henk and Susan Kruithof.

Candidate for Cordova School Board

Job: Retired educator; parent

Public service: Cordova Parent Teacher Association president and vice president, Parks and Recreation Board member, Mt. Eccles Site Council meeting participant, Moose Lodge member, United Way school district representative in Washington state

Education: Master’s degree in Education, Seattle Pacific University; Bachelor of Arts in Parks and Recreation Management, Seattle Pacific University; principal’s credentials, Seattle Pacific University


How would you like to see the school district adjust its coronavirus response?
I think the district should be complimented on their coronavirus response up to this point. Many districts still are not back to school. It’s critical that the district look carefully at a safe full time return to school. I would strongly support full-time in-person learning again this fall with needed safety protocols in place.

Other than dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, what is the school district’s biggest task for the coming year?
The biggest task that the district will face moving forward, I believe, is closing the achievement gap that has widened as a result of the pandemic. I suspect that many students have fallen behind over this past year. The teachers have done an outstanding job with the time they have had available with their students, however, part days, four days a week surely would create some gaps in student learning especially among the most vulnerable. When we return to school full-time it will be imperative that we put all our efforts toward identifying gaps and begin closing them immediately.

What sets you apart from your opponents in this race?
I believe that my 26 years as an educator, 14 as a principal and 12 as a teacher sets me apart from other candidates. I also think that perhaps my being new to the Cordova community gives me the opportunity to have open eyes to new possibilities

What can schools do to promote good mental health among students?
The mental well-being of our students is critical to the quality learning that will occur. If a student is struggling with multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) learning becomes very difficult. Schools can play a vital role in the child’s well-being. Schools that intentionally take on protocols to make students feel welcome, like initiating Four Before the Door campaigns where every student is welcomed at least four times before entering the classroom, or having advisory periods for middle and high school students. Curriculum that directly teaches to social and emotional well-being can also be very effective. Counselors that work directly with students and make the necessary connections between students and outside agencies are critical. And most importantly training staff to recognize signs of unhealthy behavior and support interventions is critical.

Identify one previous decision by the school board that you disagree with, and explain why.
Having lived in Cordova about a year and a half, most of that time under a COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard for me to reflect on any board decisions negatively. It is my hope that through careful deliberation among all involved parties, transparency, and the best intentions for students in place, board decisions will move the district in the right direction.