Newly elected Portage School Board member hopes to bridge communication gap within the district
On Friday, January 8, Dr. Shaunna D. Finley was inducted as the first African-American on the Portage School Board. Finley shared that she used her campaign in part as a gateway to promote diversity in Portage.
Finley has three African-American sons, two of whom have graduated from Portage High School and one who is still attending Portage Township Schools. The realization that her two graduated sons went through their elementary and secondary education without ever learning from an African-American teacher is something that has stuck with both Finley and her sons.
“For me, it’s very important that the PTS district is representative, not just at the teaching level but across all levels," Finley said. "Such as the diversity and equity of our school board, administrative team, teaching, coaching, and maintenance teams, etc.,” Finley said. “In all departments, we have to make sure that our students see people that look like them.”
In addition to promoting diversification, Finley ran on a campaign slogan of “Our children. Our community. Our future.,” in which she hopes to engage in various aspects of the community.
“I am expecting to build a bond with the community, so together, we can find what’s best for our students,” Finley said. “Even more than this, we must all collaborate, so we won’t educate through a one-sided view. Our schools belong to our students and parents. We must have a collaborative partnership to ensure our schools are effectively useful for our students and students get what they need not from the school building itself, but what’s inside the school building. This means asking students what they need to be successful on their journey while in high school as well as in preparing for after high school.”
Finley is no stranger to the education field. With a Master’s in Public Administration and in Education as well as a PhD in Educational Leadership, Finley is a former high school principal at East Chicago Central High School and a former assistant superintendent for the School City of East Chicago. In this manner, Finley wants to use her personal ties with the educational field as guidance for her position on the school board.
“Because I have a connection with education, I can come alongside students, parents, fellow educators, fellow board members, and the superintendent to help to fulfill my mission by serving the young minds of America,” Finley said. “I want to make this the best school district I can for our students, parents, and overall community.”
Finley admits her job in the educational field is never ending, but she would not want it any other way.
“If I can just help make a difference in one child’s life, my purpose will be fulfilled,” Finley said. “I hope I can be a mentor for students to help guide them in the right direction. Aligning and connecting with people can go a long way in life. It’s okay to ask for help, and I want students to never feel ashamed or discouraged for needing a little nudge.”