A graduate of Johnstown High School, SUNY Albany and Sage College, Jennifer Sponnoble is currently nearing the completion of coursework in Educational Administration at SUNY Plattsburgh. She has been a school counselor for 12 years, the past five with the HFM BOCES PTECH program.
Jen is married to Bill Ackerbauer and they have three children enrolled in the district, two at Johnstown High School and one at Pleasant Avenue Elementary. She is active in the PTSA.
Asked to answer the questions “what particular experience or skills qualify you to serve as a Board member” and “what are your top three concerns facing our school district at this time,” Mrs. Sponnoble responded as follows:
“My experiences as a counselor in a school setting have prepared me to be a careful listener and in each meeting and committee that I am a part of, I am able to take information provided, reflect on it and ask critical questions when necessary. There is so much to understand in order to be an effective member of the board, it takes some time to be able to feel that you understand many of the underlying issues schools face. After nine years of experience on the board, I am not afraid to ask pointed questions that others might not feel comfortable asking. One of the things I value highly is our ability as a BOE to be transparent to all of our constituents. This is something we have made a priority for several years and if elected again, I want to continue.
In the past, and during the period of our economic recession, the board reacted to where we all were financially. People in our community were being laid off, having to downsize or move, and some were in financial crisis. At this same time, the GJSD had fund balance to use and we were asked to use the fund balance instead of raising taxes. Last year, our district leaders projected five years ahead and what we saw was both sobering and revealing. We know that we need to make our community aware of the need for an increased tax levy while being extremely conscientious of our spending.
We need to remain focused on our changing student population. Knowing that we are serving students at all levels, many of whom may need services such as academic intervention services or counseling, we should be mindful of the programming we provide and the professional development needs in our district.
We also need to address the areas of instruction where improvement must occur in order to positively impact our ratings used to ‘grade’ our school district. We need to be sure that we are using as many different modalities to reach our students where they are at, and make instruction engaging while improving results.“