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Heidi Emberling

Original post made on Oct 6, 2012

Candidate Heidi Emberling says serving on the school board would be a natural extension of her profession as an early-childhood specialist and parent educator and her passion for education.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 5, 2012, 8:26 AM

Comments (24)

Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 6, 2012 at 8:03 am

Thank you Heidi for being will to run.

Heidi is the one candidate we know least about. From googling I have been able to see that she makes a lot of common sense with parenting advice and her likeability factor is high.

She is obviously running because she thinks she can be a positive influence on our children's schooling and has taken time and effort over the past couple of years of attending school board meetings and getting up to par on what is required.

Her lack of high school experience may be worrying, but at the same time she can bring a perspective on elementary schools which is current and ongoing rather than reflective. I think she will actually be more objective on high school issues when she is able to look at things without having personal experience to sway her objectivity.

A fresh face on the board is something we definitely need. She is obviously willing to learn and gain experience and insight, and having an objective attitude and an open mind maybe something that our board could use.


Posted by involved parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2012 at 9:01 am

I agree that Heidi seems really nice and likeable.

I was planning to vote for her but have changed my mind. Anyone considering voting for her should watch the Weekly interview. It is really concerning to me as she seems evasive and uninformed.

Web Link

One thing that concerns me is she represents herself as having played some kind of a central role in Project Safety Net. Her concern for kids is laudable, but Heidi is not a leader of PSN and it is strange. Heidi comes to the open meetings like a lot of other people. But she is not on the steering committee and has never talked in a meeting. Obviously in elections people try to say what they can about themselves but this is a stretcher.

Another concern, given the PSN claim, is that she opposes all of the PSN plan. Watching the Weekly video of Heidi right now and she just gives long-winded answers that never address the question. In other words, she is Camille Townsend with less experience.

She refuses to give a position on the calendar, so I can't vote for her. Who knows what she'll do? Maybe something even worse because she has no idea what she stands for.

I do not like the new calendar but I also do not like politicians who talk out of both sides of their mouth. I have no idea what she stands for or what she will do if elected. She still refuses to answer how she would have voted on the calendar. All she says is she would set up a web page to collect parent concerns? Does she think webpages have magic abilities? That is not going to fix it.

I think Ken wil be reasonable on the calendar and he mentioned Debbie Whitson's proposal as one he likes in his video. He mentioned trimesters, and Calendar B with a twist. He said he would be looking for alternatives. He's smart so he'll probably find them. Heidi is just going to do whatever someone else tells her to do. She has no idea what she thinks.

The only best practice Heidi is for is anti-bullying programs. In that case, she wants to have one uniform program in the district. Well good for that, but what about counseling, communication, and all the other instances? Is bullying the only thing you care about and if so why?

She has spent a lot of time not saying what she is for or against but just giving long stories in response to yes or no questions. Frustrating! Now when the Weekly asks her directly and she has to answer, we learn that she is against all that PSN has worked for other than anti-bullying programs. And what is "social isolation"? That sounds terrifying. Kids who bully are still kids and should be treated compassionately. Many who bully were themselves bullied so let's not let the pendulum swing so far to the other side that we criminalize childhood.

Melissa and Ken both support best practices. Melissa and Ken both support moving to a unified single guidance model. Melissa and Ken both have private sector experience in management. Melissa and Ken are both highly educated professionals who may differ on some things but have quite similar backgrounds, approaches, and training. I also think Melissa will be a good influence on Ken in how things are done in PAUSD and he will be a good influence on her not to be too timid.

Voters should watch the video. Heidi is just like Camille but without the experience.


Posted by I VOTE FOR HEIDI, HERE\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I VOTE FOR HEIDI, HERE\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ is a registered user.

I will be casting my vote for Heidi Emberling. I am encouraging others to do the same!

I have never in my life expressed a public opinion about any political election. I have never put a sign on my lawn. I have never hosted any fundraising or candidate promoting events. This year, I am doing ALL OF THESE THINGS.

Heidi is running for the school board because she can make a difference for the families in our district, for the students in our district, and for the teachers in our district. We must all support each other as we grow our kids into educated, engaged, life-long learners. We want our kids to become the next generation of leaders, great thinkers, and innovators. She feels that for those for whom the word "barrier" is an exciting challenge, it is not a closed door.

I met Heidi when my now 3rd grade son was 2 years old. I had only recently left a very intense and rigorous career with high-ranking positions. I was still in the mode of 'performance, talent, productivity, insight and effectiveness.' I found Heidi to be all of these things as well as intuitive, articulate and committed. This was a combination that created a powerful learning environment for me, a profound sense of support and leadership from Heidi to me, and the knowledge that allowed me, a discerning person to say the very least, to trust her wisdom, approach and content.

When I learned that Heidi would be running for school board earlier this year, I had one thought. PALO ALTO is lucky to have such a top notch professional WILLING to take on the challenge of making a great school district even better. She will do this by her extraordinary ability to listen, observe, to ask very difficult questions and persevere until she gets the answers she needs. She will guide with her knowledge and experience. She will fight for what children, schools, families and our community need to put our children in the best position to succeed in life. This will be a combination of not only academics, but guidance, social / emotional wellness, engaged families, wise administrators and the best of curriculum development in the nation and the world.

This is who Heidi is. She does all of this because of her keen mind, her commitment to excellence (from herself and on behalf of others) and her tireless and calm energy. Heidi's style is not one of inflammatory comments. Not one of sound bites. Not one of arguing. Does this make her ineffective? Not at all! This makes her respectable, determined, collaborative (without be compromising), purpose driven and unrelenting in her desire to do what is best.

Look only at the endorsements she has from a veritable who's who of politicians, professionals, and parents to see that those who have WORKED WITH HER have successes and triumphs as wells as respect and confidence in what she could bring to the job of the PAUSD School Board.

www.heidiemberling.com


Posted by Advertising, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 7, 2012 at 8:50 am

Editor are you really going to allow the candidates to post dueling advertising and endorsements in this space? I thought this was going to be issue driven discussion. Do you want to encourage a PR flash mob of your forum? This spam was reposted in several threads.


Posted by involved parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm

From the video:
"I moved into more of a district role . . .I've been on the Project Safety Net collaborative for the past year."

From the story:
"In general, Emberling views herself as a consensus builder. Referring to her work on Project Safety Net . . ., she said, "I really enjoy that collaborative work -- bringing people together for the sole issue of making sure our kids feel supported."

Heidi, please address this question, not asked by Bill Johnson:

What "work" on PSN are you specifically talking about? Here is a list of the steering committee members. I do not see you listed:

The PSN Executive Committee:
Ray Bacchetti, Human Relations Commission
Becky Beacom, Health Education Director, Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Rob de Geus, Recreation Division Manager, City of Palo Alto
Michael Donahue, Executive Director, KARA
Brenda Carrillo, Coordinator of Student Services, Palo Alto Unified School District
Leif Erikson, Executive Director, Youth Community Services
Terry Godfrey, Development Assets Community Collaborative Team Chair and Partners in Education Board President
Shashank Joshi, MD, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital
Vic Ojakian, Suicide Prevention Advocate
Pat Markevitch, Parks and Recreation Commission
Sigrid Pinsky, PTA Council President
Roni Gillenson, LMFT, On-Campus Counseling Program Director, Adolescent Counseling Services
Teen Representatives – Palo Alto Youth Council
The PSN Advisers:
Linda Lenoir, Palo Alto Unified School District Nurse
Scott Glissmeyer, YMCA Executive Director, Palo Alto Branch

I also don't see Parents' Place listed as a community partner. Are you on one of the Community Collaborative Teams? If so, which one?

It is very important to be specific and accurate. For one thing, the PSN brand is a serious and important brand. When you claim to be doing work "on PSN" or to be doing "collaborative work on PSN" you are associating yourself with a brand in order to enhance your own brand. You are claiming that you are associated with a thing that is highly valued in the community. I have a lot of friends who are seriously involved in PSN and they are not familiar with your work there. That doesn't mean you didn't do collaborative work "on PSN" but please be specific about what that is.

When you say you are "on PSN" you are implying that you are appointed to it or serving in some capacity "on" it. But people think that you just attend the open meetings like a lot of other interested community members. Perhaps you are more engaged than that and this is a good opportunity to let people know about that. Perhaps you are not and in that case, this is a good opportunity to clarify your role.

There is nothing wrong with being a community member who attends and listens. That is valuable. But it is not the same as being "on PSN".





Posted by Wondering Myself, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Heidi: I watched your video and was also struck by the "on PSN".....what does that mean? I think it would be great if you could shed some light on this for us. I do not think it is unreasonable to question somebody's resume. Please let us know in more detail what your specific contributions to the committee were (are). I want to know everything about your work in the district before I cast my ballot.

Thanks!


Posted by involved parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

""I moved into more of a district role . . .I've been on the Project Safety Net collaborative for the past year both in my role as an educator from Parents' Place, and as a concerned parent."

Here's a list of organizations with MOUs with PSN, and it doesn't mention Parent's Place: Web Link

Does Parent's Place have an MOU with PSN that is not on this document? I can't find it on the City website but maybe it exists and maybe Heidi can tell us what she means when she says that she is "on the PSN collaborative. . .in my role as an educator from Parent's Place."

I am genuinely confused and this is a good chance for Heidi to clear the air.


Posted by Also wondering, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Could someone from Emberling's campaign please clarify this? Emberling's ballot statement on the Smart Voter site says "I currently serve on the Project Safety Net Collaborative" (Web Link). Presumably this means that she holds some kind of office or plays some kind of active role on PSN or one of its committees beyond just coming to open meetings once a month and listening to presentations. Otherwise it makes no sense to tell the community that this counts as a qualification for holding office. This isn't a "gotcha", I'm sure there is some substance here that just isn't being communicated very clearly.


Posted by Louder than words, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Wondering-- I'm thinking at this point the silence is speaking louder than words.


Posted by Peggy Walsh, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm

I watched the special Ed forum last night, and during her first statement Emberlng said that she attends PSN meetings. She didn't say she was "on" PSN or that she "serves on" the Collaborative, just that she has been going to the monthly meeting for about a year. That seems consistent with what others have apparently seen, that she goes to the public meeting over at Lucy Stern but doesn't say much or participate in the work. Hope that helps clear up the mystery.


Posted by Terman mom, a resident of Terman Middle School
on Oct 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm

@Peggy, that's really disturbing. When your ballot statement says "I currently serve on the Project Safety Net Collaborative" when you just go to the public meetings and sit and listen, that just isn't true. That makes it look like she is an active advocate. Apparently she is really just sitting in the audience. I expect more honesty from a public official than that, particularly on the School Board. Also there are people who really are putting time and energy into Project Safety Net for our kids and they shouldn't have their work taken for granted.

It sounds like she is backing away from her own ballot statement now that people are starting to put 2 and 2 together. I don't understand why Heidi is not responding to this. Is she hoping that no one will notice?


Posted by Heidi Emberling, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I'd be happy to clarify my role with the Project Safety Net Collaborative. I began attending meetings about a year ago to find out more about how we are supporting the social and emotional health and well-being of youth and teens here in Palo Alto. My kids are in elementary (Juana Briones) and middle school (Terman) and my work at Parents Place is with families and children ages birth through eight. I am a parenting educator and child development specialist and also a teacher-trainer for early childhood professionals. So my work expertise and parent experience is with younger kids.

I've moved from leadership roles at the school level (PTA co-pres. and site council chair) to the district level (PiE Board) and I wanted to broaden my experience by researching what we are doing at the high school level as well. I began writing about the high schools for the PiE newsletter last year (the "Slice"), and I began attending Project Safety Net meetings.

After a few monthly meetings, I realized that Parents Place could play a role with Project Safety Net as well. I invited my colleague, Holly Pedersen, PhD, from our clinical team to attend meetings with me. She teachers our cyber-bullying prevention program and works directly with teens and families in our community. Christina Llerena, the new Director of Project Safety Net, then met with Holly and I at Parents Place to find out more about what we offer and how we can become useful partners for Project Safety Net initiatives.

For example, during a presentation by teachers at Gunn about "Not in our Schools" week, which highlighted the array of activities for LGBTQ teens, I noticed that there was no parent education component, like a newsletter article about what to do when your teenager comes out to you. After the meeting, I spoke with Micaela Presti, a PTA Council co-president, about Parents Place partnering with the PTA to offer some parental support, in addition to all the great activities for teens.

Being in these meetings helps me identify ways in which Parents Place can partner with other organizations serving youth in our community. We don't have a formal MOU or partnership agreement yet. Last month, I participated in the QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Gatekeeper training with Project Safety Net, one of the suicide prevention efforts in our schools. (As a side note, I was a suicide prevention hotline volunteer in college and I worked at a teen runaway shelter in San Francisco as one of my first jobs.)

I hope this clarifies my role and my work with Project Safety Net. It is a very busy time for me right now, as you can imagine, but I am accessible before or after the next four candidate forums, if you'd like to talk more about my work in the education field or my volunteer work in our schools and larger community.

You can find a list of the next four candidate forums on my website: www.heidiemberling.com. Thank you for your interest in my candidacy.


Posted by Flimflam, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Heidi - in the forum held by the League of Women Voters, you were very dismissive of the new Homework Policy, and laughed it off with an unhumorous anecdote about high school students who did not know what it was. Clearly you did not value this policy, or did not like it.

This is frustrating - many people advocated for years to get a Homework policy; this policy was developed by a thoughtful group of teachers, parents, administrators, and was voted Unanimous by the board, with the support of the administration.

This policy will help our kids, as it addresses one of the largest sources of stress in students lives. Examining the quantity and quality of homework is a major item for Project Safety Net.

It is shocking to see your ballot statement say you serve on PSN, yet you exhibit such a dismissive response to one of their major goals.

Either you simply don't believe in what PSN is trying to accomplish, or you are hopelessly ill informed about the stresses placed on our kids.

It is hard to believe you will advocate for the PSN initiatives, and I wonder why you go to the meetings at all? To sit idle, then dismiss one of their major accomplishments?

Then claim to be part of PSN on your ballot statement? Really?

Please stand down.

p.s. we are still waiting for you to answer the question on how you would vote on the calendar. But I don't expect an answer actually...


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I think her point is that you can have all the policies you want but unless they are enforced and the teachers are held accountable if they dont follow them, they are useless.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm

FlimFlam -I think Heidi's anecdote was actually a comment on what HS students think of a homework policy - it's laughable because the quantity issues will never happen in PAUSD. And there are too many parents that think "more is more" when it comes to homework.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I watch a ton of c-span. I write letters to my Congressman and donate to her campaign. That does not mean I "serve" on the Foreign Relations Committee. It's great that you wanted to educate yourself and see how you can help. Very admirable that you recognized your lack of knowledge and reached out to learn. But attending the QPR training and having responsibility for holding it are different. When you claimed to be the latter rather than the former you took for granted and failed to appreciate the effort being put in by those who actually do "serve" on PSN. In fairness I think it is fine to take credit for your efforts to attend and learn. May I suggest that the right thing to do is to revise your ballot statement to say "for the past year I have attended meetings of project safety net in order to learn about . . ." Based on your response that is accurate and what you currently have is not.


Posted by another palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm

palo alto mom, I am trying to understand your point. You say that Heidi thinks that "the quantity issues will never happen in PAUSD." So we should just not try? So we should what? Not have a policy? Not have a committee? What is her plan for addressing homework? Put up a magic webpage that will somehow fix all our problems? Explain please.


Posted by FlimFlam, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm

It was pretty clear to me that Heidi did not really believe in this homework policy - whether because it was unimplemented, unimplementable, laughable, or just did not match her goals, I'll never know. She did not explain why she did not believe in having such a policy. She giggled.

This issue came up again in another forum, and her answer was not quite as dismissive, but it was clear that she does not really support this, unless you believe a wishy-washy non-answer somehow counts as maybe supporting it. I don't believe she is behind this initiative at all.

And yes - I do feel we need policy. And we should try to address student stress due to Homework. And I am not along - all of PSN, and the School Board and the Administration feel the same way. I don't think it is unreasonable, given that so many thoughtful, dedicated people are behind it, advocating for our kids.

Heidi is just not one of them.

My point is that she claims to be part of PSN - yet does not support their goals.


Posted by Call me skeptical, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Until now, I have been a Heidi supporter. But that support is rapidly fading.

Heidi's explanation above does nothing to address the central concern here. There are around 35,000 Palo Alto, Stanford and Los Altos Hills voters. Most of them will make their decisions based on the ballot statement they receive in the mail. Heidi's says: "I currently serve on the Project Safety Net Collaborative."

As is the case with most issues, Heidi refuses to directly answer the question, in this case about whether this part of her ballot statement is true. But based on her explanation above, it is hard to come to any conclusion than that it is false.

It is too late to correct the ballot statement, so the damage is done and most voters will be left with this false impression. The only hope is that the Weekly is monitoring these posts and will inform the public that there is a question of Heidi's truthfulness in her ballot statement.


Posted by Disappointed, a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 10, 2012 at 10:11 am

I'm disappointed and pretty shocked by what is happening here. Like skeptical I was disposed to like Emberling, we do need fresh blood on the board. But none of what Emberling says is justifying telling voters that one of her qualifications to serve on the School Board is that "Currently, I serve on the Project Safety Net Collaborative," as her ballot statement says. That statement means that she an ongoing role.

But really she merely attends the monthly public meetings. Meeting once with the Project Safety Net director doesn't mean that she "serves" on the Collaborative, and neither does a chat with Micaela Presti. The QPR training that she mentions is great, but she fails to mention that it was given to everyone attending the monthly open meeting. There are many people who do work on PSN, on the various committees looking at data, organizing events for teens, on the Steering Committee, etc. (including the one that gave the QPR training). They deserve not to have someone else take credit for their work to get elected.

I worked on a couple of campaigns and the ballot statement is not just slapped down on paper willy nilly. Candidates agonize over exactly the right words to use.

The other thing that really bothers me is the answer itself, as Skeptical says. It's a lot of words but most of them irrelevant to the question, designed to make it look like there's a full explanation and answer when there isn't. Boiled down, it's "I go to the open public meetings, and that is the extent of my involvement."

This doesn't pass the smell test for me. Unfortunately as skeptical says the damage is done on the ballot statement which is sitting in everyone's house already -- what's that saying about a falsehood being out the door before the truth gets out of bed?


Posted by Wondering Myself, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Heidi: It's admirable that you took the time to try and shed some light on what your time consisted of when"serving on the PSN collaborative". Unfortunately, you failed to convince me that it was a legitimate claim and I find it unfortunate that voters will be receiving a ballot statement with that on it as a qualification. That is relying on the good name of the PSN members who did lots of hard work while you seemed to be doing not much more than occupying a chair at public meetings. I am very disappointed with this misrepresentation of your involvement with PSN especially when you have demonstrated that you are not fully aligned with the goals of PSN. I hope that you may have something to say about this at tonight's meeting at Paly. I hope that you are more supportive of the PSN goals than you have demonstrated at past forums. I think your explanation was just a pile of words and it really didn't convince me that you are that involved with PSN (other than attending meetings that is). Please make an attempt to fully answer questions that come your way (ie are you for the calendar change or not????? we are still waiting on that one). By the way, you have not earned my vote yet unless you make a big turnaround!


Posted by Not ready to lead, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Susan, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2012 at 6:52 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Lois W. , a resident of Escondido School
on Oct 11, 2012 at 7:22 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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