Corissa Mazurkiewicz, photo courtesy Corissa Mazurkiewicz

Corissa Mazurkiewicz, a Pacific University professor, lives outside of Banks’ city limits, and is running for the Banks School Board in position 2.

Mazurkiewicz has lived in the region for the last 15 years, and said she grew up visiting family in Banks every year for the majority of her life prior to moving here.

Originally, the race would have been against incumbent Raymond Mott, but after researching Mazurkiewicz, Mott dropped out of the race.

 "It doesn't hurt to have some new ideas," Mott said in an interview with the Banks Post.

"From what I find, she's a good person. If that's what you want to call an endorsement, I say yes. I don't know her personally, and I did ask some other people about her, and I looked her up online," Mott said.

On the ballot, Mazurkiewicz stands alone, but she is facing a write-in campaign from Chad Mueller, who originally filed to run for position 1 and is listed still on the ballot as such. 

Mazurkiewicz cited her educational background — she holds a doctorate in education & leadership from Pacific University — and expertise in the field as a factor in her decision to run for the board, and noted that “multiple community members” reached out to her to run for the board. 

She said that she’s been teaching for more than 20 years, with an expertise in special education, and has taught in a number of other general, mathematics, English and science settings, among others. 

“I'm a really strong collaborator. I feel like I have really strong listening skills,” she said. “I try to look at multiple perspectives and something I really continue to work on is being able to see the world through the eyes of someone else, particularly the eyes of someone who is very different from me,” she said.

“I think those are strong skills that need to be on the school board where you have a lot of diverse perspectives and you’re tackling a lot of big issues.”

Asked what she would look for in a superintendent for the Banks School District if tasked with seeking one, Mazurkiewicz emphasized supporting teachers and students as qualities in a superintendent. 

“The heart of what we do in education is supporting students, but there's a tremendous amount of research that shows that we really have to support our teachers in order to do that,” she said. 

“I would want a superintendent who is deeply committed to supporting the teaching staff."

Someone with a deep vision and goals for the district, especially in light of the district’s small size, problem-solving, flexibility, and someone with experience working with a diverse student body were all among the qualifications she cited, as well as a candidate who uses research and best practices in running a district. 

Moving into the next school year, it’s likely that some of the larger continued impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will have ceased, especially with vaccines available to those ages 12 and up and the potential for a vaccine for those even younger. Asked what her priorities would be if elected and sworn in on July 1, Mazurkiewicz laid out what her first tasks would be if elected.

“One of the biggest issues facing schools pre-pandemic was the really high rate of trauma that our students, our kids, experience. Research shows that [they took data from adults across 25 states and found 60 - 62% of adults] have experienced one or more adverse childhood experiences,” she said. 

And with the new experience of the pandemic, Mazurkiewicz believes that this trend of childhood trauma has likely gotten worse, and that it’s an important issue to tackle as the pandemic draws to a close for students.

“Thinking about 50 to 60% of our kids in a classroom being affected by trauma tells us, you know, when we look at the research from neuroscience that we have kids whose memory function is impaired, their cognitive functioning is impaired. They're not able to learn, they're not ready to learn. So until we address those needs, we're not able to maximize the educational experience of any of our students.”

The special district election will end May 18 at 8 p.m.; it is too late to mail a ballot, but voters can visit a 24-hour ballot drop box in the driveway of the Banks Public Library, on Pacific Ave. in front of the Forest Grove City Library, and at other locations dotted throughout the county.

According to the Washington County Elections office, the vast majority of registered voters in Washington County have yet to cast a ballot, with only 69,396 ballots, or 18% of all registered voters participating as of Monday morning.