The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees welcomed a new face this week as newly-appointed member Miranda Chalabi attended her first meeting as Trustee Area 1’s representative Tuesday night.
Chalabi was officially sworn in on June 12, just two days after she and two other candidates were interviewed by the Board during a special meeting to see who would replace former Area 1 Trustee Barney Gordon, who resigned from the position in April. Gordon has since accepted a position within the District at Assistant Superintendent of Business Services.
A 2003 Turlock High School graduate, Chalabi is mom to two daughters, one of whom is set to start second grade at Medeiros Elementary School later this year. She’s always had a passion for public service, she said, which inspired her to obtain her master’s degree in Public Administration from Stanislaus State after earning her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the university.
In addition to her role as a mother and, now, as a TUSD Trustee, Chalabi works for Stanislaus County in Behavior Health Recovery Services as a data and outcomes project coordinator. Because of work, she found it difficult to be as involved in her daughter’s education as she would’ve liked — until now.
“People would come up to me and say I should get involved with this or that…I was waiting for something that really sparked my interest and this had everything I wanted,” Chalabi said. “PTA is very important and so is volunteering in the classroom, but unfortunately I couldn’t do a lot of that because it was during the (hours of) eight to five and I have a job.
“This position is at the perfect time because I can do all of my reading and everything I need to do to prepare and be a good Board member when I have the time.”
Chalabi spent all weekend prior to her first meeting reading through its agenda materials, she said, in preparation for her first foray into public service. She wanted to become a Board member because the District not only provided a positive educational experience for herself, but has for her daughter as well.
In addition to creating a supportive environment for students, Chalabi believes there are other things TUSD excels at as well.
“Being a working mom and being invested in my kid’s education, I love the social media aspect of TUSD and I’ve noticed it’s a lot more frequent,” Chalabi said. “You see updates on what’s going on all the time.”
During her time on the Board — her term will expire in 2020 — Chalabi hopes to see TUSD allow mentoring to take on a bigger role within the District. While the District does partner with Stanislaus State to provide college mentors for students, the program’s reach could be amplified, she said.
“I’m a huge advocate for mentorships…even if they’re just talking about their day or friends, it ends up being a relationship and they can get help with their homework or reading and writing,” she said. “I know literacy rates are really important and our rates are low, so that’s something I would like to see.”
Chalabi said the aspect of serving on the TUSD Board of Trustees that most excites her is being able to watch the process of a school board as a member, rather than a parent.
“I’m excited to see the whole process from that chair, because it’s obviously different than when you’re not,” she said.
Chalabi added that she would like to run for reelection come 2020.
“A year and a half is a really short time,” she said. “There’s going to be a large learning curve obviously, so I’m going to learn a lot and I don’t want that all to go to waste.”