Dr. Jon Lyman is running for Alexandria’s Board of Education seat in the 2021 election on Nov 2.
Lyman believes there are many great topics for discussion in the classroom, some of which are controversial.
“Topics that engender opportunities for discussion include the environment, social media, politics, technology, healthcare, financial matters, and history and its impact on the future,” Lyman said.
As a former history teacher, Lyman encourages students to hold viewpoints and to discuss them with their classmates.
“Controversy itself is a prolonged, heated public discussion—in my opinion there is no place for heated conversations within the classroom. Respectful and informed, yes—heated no,” Lyman said.
When it comes to balancing a school budget, Lyman believes that the students and their needs must be prioritized.
“My top school budget priority is to maintain the services and supports that our students currently receive and increase them if at all possible,” said Lyman.
Over the past few years, it has not been a secret that budget cuts have been a long standing issue at Del Val. Cuts in services and to the staff, like the removal of the late bus after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, has had a lasting impact on the school. Lyman is aware that tough budget decisions are still on the horizon as state budget cuts will continue to affect Del Val.
“Honestly, the budget is tight already, so if there are further reductions in the budget, along with rising costs, changes will need to be made,” Lyman said.
With the addition of COVID-19 protocols, these paired with budget cuts have made the past two school years very different.
“I think we found that there is no substitute for in-person learning in a high school setting,” Lyman said. “Based on a parent survey, a majority of parents sought to return to a full day experience for our students.”
During the 2020 school year, students missed out on many events and activities, including sports, the arts and Prom. Lyman is sympathetic to the struggles that students have had to overcome during the pandemic.
“Education at Del Val is not just preparation for college or work, but also fun. It is sad that they missed out. However, I believe we put the health of our students first by abiding the health regulations set by the state,” said Lyman.
Lyman also admits that the pandemic has changed education due to the use of online courses that offer students different benefits.
“Education has changed forever because we learned that some students can benefit through the use of online courses where they learn at their own speed with the ability to go back, re-read, or skip sections already learned. Because of that, efficiency improved—the time needed to learn a concept improved for those students. However, some students still require the structure of a classroom with feedback and support to maintain engagement,” Lyman said.
I wish to continue volunteering to support the mission our board has as its goal: to engage and prepare our students through a broad range of dynamic opportunities, inspiring them to achieve their fullest potential, and graduate ready to embrace their future”
— Jon Lyman
This need for engagement also includes the learning that occurs outside of the classroom. Even with all the clubs and activities already offered, Lyman sees an opportunity for more offerings.
“I would like to see a graduation requirement of volunteer community service,” Lyman said.
“For a new club, trending for a long time now is Geocaching. Fun objects are hidden outside in plain sight with GPS coordinates that get you close. Clues are provided to help you find the hidden object. Geocaching gets students outside. They learn map skills (longitude/latitude), how to pace a distance and orienting to points on a compass.” Lyman said.
Dr. Lyman also believes there are still important improvements that can be made to the building.
“Going forward, into the future I believe it will be important to strongly consider establishing a K-12 district that will unify our schools,” Lyman said.
As a former member of his high school student council, an athlete, and later in life, a coach, Dr. Lyman knows the importance of school activities, including athletics and the arts.
Lyman said, “It is an area with such a great, positive impact on the atmosphere of our learning community. Arts and athletics improve academics, give students opportunities to develop pride in their accomplishments and develop lifelong friendships.”
Part of what makes Del Val’s community special is the community’s support of the students and their extracurricular activities.
“Extracurricular activities and the hosting of community events and youth league games on our fields make our school the ‘center of town.’ It is a great place to spend extra time. Just drive by Del Val after school and see how much is going on—it’s a lot and so good,” Lyman said.
Del Val prides itself on its “Future Ready” distinction, and to Dr. Lyman, this means preparing high school students for jobs that don’t exist yet.
“We are a service delivery-based economy. This means that continued familiarity with digital means of education will be a lifelong need for our students when they enter the workforce,” Lyman said.
As a lifelong learner and strong supporter of public education, Lyman has spent much of his time at Del Val as one of the school’s psychologists and as a volunteer assistant coach for three sports over the past twelve years..
“I wish to continue volunteering to support the mission our board has as its goal: to engage and prepare our students through a broad range of dynamic opportunities, inspiring them to achieve their fullest potential, and graduate ready to embrace their future,” Lyman said.
If you agree with these ideas and wish to support this candidate, make sure to vote on Nov. 2.