Amy Austin

for West Lafayette School Board

I am a kindergarten-through-college public school graduate. I believe that excellent schools are vital to a healthy society, and that the investment we make in education multiplies and comes back to every member of the community.

Amy Austin
Amy Austin

for West Lafayette School Board

I am a kindergarten-through-college public school graduate. I believe that excellent schools are vital to a healthy society, and that the investment we make in education multiplies and comes back to every member of the community.

Amy Austin

"There is a place in America to take a stand: it is public education. It is the underpinning of our cultural and political system. It is the great common ground. Public education after all is the engine that moves us as a society toward a common destiny... It is in public education that the American dream begins to take shape."

Tom Brokaw

About Me

The AustinsMy husband, BJ, and I grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana. I graduated from Purdue with a degree in Special Education. During college, I worked full time at an inpatient facility for children with intellectual disabilities and behavioral disorders, and I developed a passion for helping children with learning challenges reach their fullest potential.

In 2003, my husband and several colleagues started IN Space, LLC in the Purdue Research Park. We work on aerospace engineering research. I’ve been the business manager since the beginning, which has required me to learn to “speak aerospace” and to “speak government.” There are all sorts of extremely specific requirements that I’ve learned for handling government money and property (if you ever have insomnia, read the Federal Acquisition Regulations!). That experience will certainly be relevant on the school board. Having a business has enabled us to stay in West Lafayette, a community we grew to love as Purdue students.

When our kids, Mary Grace (9th), Claire (8th), and Jack (4th grade) were little I used to joke that some kids have stay-at-home parents, but we had go-to-work kids. It was a juggle during their early years, but now that they're older I can't imagine any other life. I have a collection of pictures of each of them sleeping on my desk, cruising down the halls of our office in a walker, and banging on an old keyboard "working" like Mommy and Daddy.

Active Involvement

West Lafayette LogoAs soon as our kids started preschool I started volunteering. I know how hard our teachers work, and from the beginning it has been important to me to do what I could to help out. I’m really lucky that my flexible work schedule has allowed me to be available during the day. I was a Girl Scout leader for several years before my daughters' interests took us elsewhere. When my kids entered Happy Hollow, I served as secretary of the parent council for three years. This year I've returned to WLIS to serve as president of their Parent Council. And, of course, I have run the popcorn machine and the register at the book fair, I've sorted truckloads of mums, delivered a school's worth of supply kits, chaperoned, made copies, cut out laminated items, and all the rest of the usual jobs so many volunteers do.

I believe that the active involvement of our parents is one of the things that sets West Lafayette apart from other school districts. Of course, I’ve always wanted the best possible education for my own kids, but I have been so fortunate to have had a small hand in improving the educational opportunities for everyone else’s kids, too. Working on the Parent Council grant committees, in particular, is a tangible way that I’ve been able to help ensure that your donations could have the greatest impact for the greatest number of students.

I think my favorite activity as a semi-professional volunteer is writing the Parent Council newsletter. I write one for the kindergarten through sixth grade families one week, and a second for the junior/senior high school families the next. I work hard to keep everyone informed of all the great things going on at Westside in a fun, easy to navigate format. The newsletter keeps me "plugged in" to all three schools and all three parent councils. It allows me to have broad view of all of the wonderful things that are happening in our community.  

The school newsletter has become even more valuable since March. It has been a tool for people to stay connected to the school community while we have been apart. When things shut down, and when back to school plans started to firm up, I helped communicate vital information to the community. I've received a lot of positive feedback. I hope to be able to continue writing it until my son graduates in 2029!

As soon as our kids started preschool I started volunteering. I know how hard our teachers work, and from the beginning it has been important to me to do what I could to help out. I’m really lucky that my flexible work schedule has allowed me to be available during the day. I was a Girl Scout leader for several years before my daughters' interests took us elsewhere. When my kids entered Happy Hollow, I served as secretary of the parent council for three years. This year I've returned to WLIS to serve as president of their Parent Council. And, of course, I have run the popcorn machine and the register at the book fair, I've sorted truckloads of mums, delivered a school's worth of supply kits, chaperoned, made copies, cut out laminated items, and all the rest of the usual jobs so many volunteers do.

West Lafayette Logo

I believe that the active involvement of our parents is one of the things that sets West Lafayette apart from other school districts. Of course, I’ve always wanted the best possible education for my own kids, but I have been so fortunate to have had a small hand in improving the educational opportunities for everyone else’s kids, too. Working on the Parent Council grant committees, in particular, is a tangible way that I’ve been able to help ensure that your donations could have the greatest impact for the greatest number of students.

I think my favorite activity as a semi-professional volunteer is writing the Parent Council newsletter. I write one for the kindergarten through sixth grade families one week, and a second for the junior/senior high school families the next. I work hard to keep everyone informed of all the great things going on at Westside in a fun, easy to navigate format. The newsletter keeps me "plugged in" to all three schools and all three parent councils. It allows me to have broad view of all of the wonderful things that are happening in our community.  

The school newsletter has become even more valuable since March. It has been a tool for people to stay connected to the school community while we have been apart. When things shut down, and when back to school plans started to firm up, I helped communicate vital information to the community. I've received a lot of positive feedback. I hope to be able to continue writing it until my son graduates in 2029!

Issues at Hand

Our schools are going to face interesting challenges in the near future. The pandemic will, unfortunately, have a profound effect on state and local budgets, and difficult decisions will likely have to be made. I want to help navigate our school corporation through making those choices. With creativity and care, I believe it will be possible to minimize the impact of those tough decisions on our students and teachers.

The petition that our alumni wrote concerning the Black Lives Matter movement will need to be addressed. I’ve been educating myself about institutional racism, reading books and watching documentaries, and most importantly doing some difficult self-examination. I’ve learned that racism is baked into our culture and our systems, and that it’s up to each of us to educate ourselves and eradicate it. We have a unique opportunity to really make a positive change in how we serve the Black community.

One responsibility of the Board that you don’t hear about often is the various committees on which the board members sit. Our school board members act as a liaison between WLCSC and the city, the parks department, the state, the West Lafayette Schools Education Foundation, GLASS, Purdue, and so on. In fact, our 7 board members sit on at least 20 different other committees. Not only have I been involved with our schools’ parent councils, I’ve also been an active neighborhood organizer in Glenwood Heights, and I’ve worked with the City of West Lafayette on several issues of concern. I think my prior experiences make me well suited to represent our schools on many of these committees.

My unique background both in education and in government contracting will be valuable to the school community. I want our schools to be a safe, healthy environment for all learners. I want to carry forward the success that West Lafayette's schools have worked so hard to attain, and to empower our wonderful teachers to make decisions in their classrooms that will further that success. I want to make sure that every single student who passes through the halls of our schools leaves with an education they can be proud of, that will serve them well in all their future endeavors.

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