At the special board meeting on October 4, Aine O’Donovan was provisionally appointed to represent area 5 vacancy on the CUHSD board of trustees. The previous trustee, Kallen Gallagher, resigned this August, leaving a vacancy on the board.
O’Donovan, who is the mother to a Leigh Alumni and a current Leigh Junior, shares a special connection with education as an immigrant from Ireland. She was the first in her family to attend college, where she received a degree in Electrical Engineering and a PhD in Microelectronics. In her interview on October 4, 2022, she expressed how she feels “deeply about students… [and] giving them opportunities to achieve,” regardless of their backgrounds.
After moving to the United States, she became involved with the childrens’ schools in a variety of ways, ranging from a classroom volunteer to president of the Home and School Club. However, it was “very overwhelming for [her], coming from a completely different education system.” She acknowledged that “there are many parents like me… they’re not familiar with how our school, how our systems work.” She credits these personal experiences to her passion for communication, “not just having a website, not just sending an email… [but] what actually are we saying and how are we saying it so it’s accurate and meaningful and it can be understood by everybody.”
In response to a question surrounding teacher retention, O’Donovan emphasized two components: salary and work climate. She acknowledged that “It’s very difficult when you have a budget… to make [teacher salaries] competitive with our neighbors… [but] we should try, we absolutely should try.” She also emphasized the importance of affordable housing, an effort she personally has been involved in. While working as a community representative on the Cambrian Park Plaza redevelopment, “one of the key issues [they] were talking about was affordable housing and making housing available for teachers.”
She concluded by emphasizing the collaborative attitude she hopes to bring to the board and district: “I see the board as a team, I see this district as a team… I feel that if we can have more people on our teams, and more people have a voice, then those people feel that they were heard… and when people feel listened too, they feel like they’re a part of the system.”