“Gratitude fuels my decision to run for the school board,” said Noelle Balliett. She is running against incumbent David Olson to represent District 5 on the Peninsula School District board of directors.
Balliett’s biological mother was only 15 when she gave birth and, knowing that her situation would not be the best for her newborn, she gave her up for adoption. Balliett was raised by a family of teachers and saw firsthand the opportunities that education could provide. She grew up in Florida, earned a doctorate in psychology in Oklahoma, and continued her training in several other states before moving to Gig Harbor with her husband and son in 2013. She works with veterans at the American Lake Veterans Administration Medical Center, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder and its associated sleep disorders.
Balliett volunteers at Harbor Heights Elementary School, where her son is in fourth grade. She began attending school board meetings after the school had its third principal in four years and she wanted to better understand the problem.
The main issues facing PSD schools, Balliett said, are facility needs and enhancing the two-way connection between the community and the district. She said she has door-belled thousands of homes over the course of the campaign and thinks there are opportunities to harness the support of the community. “We need to build new bridges,” she said. “We need everyone at the table.”
As a psychologist, Balliett said she is particularly interested in the emotional and social well-being of both students and staff. She endorses a curriculum that will provide viable options for all students no matter what their career choices might be. She also said the role of the board is “charting the course for the district, not to dictate how it is done. Day-to-day decisions must be done by staff.”
Balliett is looking forward to hearing recommendations from the architectural firm hired to determine whether existing schools can be remodeled to accommodate growth or if a new school is necessary. She expects that the board will make a decision based on those recommendations and about how to raise necessary funds prior to the election, and she will support that decision. She thinks the state budget will not adequately fund education and worries that population growth and mandated class sizes for 2019 will be problematic.
Balliett’s educational experience also includes fund development. “I am passionate to find untapped resources, both outside the district and within our region,” she said. As a graduate student, she worked with at-risk students to connect them with community resources. She has a strong research background in statistics, curriculum development and testing. “I am good at asking questions to make sure our investment in time and resources makes sense,” she said.