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Joanne Lentino: ‘We need a teacher on the School Board’
BY MELISSA MAHLER, Contributor
PINELLAS COUNTY – Joanne Lentino is running for the District 1 seat on the Pinellas County School Board. Education is her passion and she spent the last 10 years of her career teaching the elementary students of Pinellas County and building relationships with the students and their families. While she recently retired from teaching, she has remained an active part of the school community and also mentors many students.
She said her experience as a teacher shapes a platform with stakeholders at the forefront: the parents, their children and the professionals who teach them.
Lentino has identified several policy priorities for creating better schools in our area. The first she believes begins with investing more in early childhood education. Citing early childhood development statistics, she said that development of a child’s brain is 85 percent complete by the age of three. By investing early in our children, she believes we can better prepare them to learn and be successful in the classroom.
Lentino’s other priorities include closing the achievement gap by providing high quality education to all students and offering the resources to help the ones who need additional support.
When asked by the Tampa Bay Times if she agreed with those who say the district isn’t doing enough to ensure black children catch up to their peers, she responded: “Agree. The word ‘spending’ is key. Let’s follow the budget. Where is the money going? Who is following the data? … Is the PCSB being forthright in the mandates that were set by the court? I think not, based on the short time I have attended the Concerned Organization for the Quality Education of Black Students meetings.”
Changes in classroom discipline are also part of her approach to creating an environment conducive to learning. Lentino said we should consider “restorative justice” along with increased support from social services and behavior specialists. Working with community partners in collaboration with the schools is and essential part of her approach to building.
Lentino believes that students spend too much time taking standardized tests and that so much testing is actually having a negative impact on the quality of education because it moves the focus away from the classroom.
Lentino has been recognized for her leadership in education and has been endorsed by Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association/Pinellas Educational Support Professionals Association, Pinellas NOW/West Pinellas NOW, West Central Florida Labor Council and the AFL-CIO, Teachers, Firefighters’ Assoc. & Labor.