Both candidates live on the Coastside — Waddell in Pacifica and Magee in Half Moon Bay — and both have long tenures in education.
Magee, 58, told The Almanac in an email that she is running "as a passionate advocate for all students, to support our educator workforce, and to ensure students get an excellent education and graduate with relevant skills."
Waddell, 55, said in an email that he chose to run "because I have spent my entire career — as a teacher, counselor, principal, deputy superintendent, and statewide curriculum leader — in the service of equity."
On April 28, the two candidates met in a League of Women Voters forum in Redwood City.
Waddell told the audience that he was the first in his family to go to college, ending up with four degrees, including a doctorate.
"Education and service are in my bones," he said.
"What is in the best interest of children ... is what gets me up in the morning," he said. "Sometimes it is what keeps me awake at night."
Magee said she has been serving the needs of youth since starting her own business at 13 as a swim instructor. "I honed those skills and I went on to be a successful high school teacher and high school leader for 20 years," she said.
"Starting at the age of 13, I've been a lifelong advocate for students, driven to get better outcomes for them," she said. "I lean in, I listen, I learn and I lead with impact."
Retaining and housing teachers
The candidates were asked how local schools can retain quality teachers in an area where the cost of housing and cost of living is 40 percent higher than in other parts of California.
Waddell said changing the pathway to becoming a teacher could help. "We have to make that easier," he said. The county should also help those looking to change careers, and those who work for schools but aren't teachers, get teaching credentials, he said.
"I think we have to think outside the box ... set aside our preconceived ideas and think about what we can do," he said.
Magee said that while a teacher shortage is widespread, "the housing in San Mateo County is really a serious crisis," with teachers leaving jobs in the county because of housing costs.
She suggested local partners could offer short-term help. Real estate professionals, she said, could help new teachers find places to live.
She also suggested working with state legislators to take a "look at barriers to credentialing in the state," and working with youth to get them interested in teaching as a career.
She also said educator wellness programs are important. "We need to address their everyday health needs. It's a very stressful career," Magee said.
Technology in schools
Magee said one of her priorities is to expand career and technical education. "The world is changing quickly. We need to prepare our students to live in a world that doesn't look like the 20th century," she said.
Waddell said he sees technology as an opportunity to reach all students, not by replacing interaction between teacher and child, but by deepening it. "I believe we have a great opportunity to go to our partners and our tech sector here," he said.
Career and technical training
Waddell said that it is more important to give students a look at a lot of different careers than to train them for just one. "Career interest really stabilizes in mid-20s to 30s, typically," he said. "So preparing children for one career when they're in high school may help them for a couple years, but really isn't what they need long term."
Magee said she wants "to expand career education so every student — whether attending college or not — has a pathway to the best jobs of today and tomorrow."
The county office is working with the building and trades union in the hopes of growing its two-year apprenticeship program to serve more students, she said.
Magee has been involved in a wide range of civic and volunteer activities including the San Mateo Leadership Alumni Engagement Committee, YMCA Civic Engagement Advisory Council, Coastside Democrats, Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, San Mateo County Coalition for Safe Schools and Communities, and the Student Programs and Services Steering Committee of the California County Superintendents Education Association (CSEA).
Waddell is a former therapeutic foster parent for children with special needs, a volunteer with Equality California and a former volunteer trainer for the Child Abuse Prevention Center. He is the former chair of California's Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee (CISC) and current chair of the state Visual and Performing Arts Committee.
He worked for a short time as a drama teacher and also held jobs as a school counselor for 15 years, a school principal and an adjunct graduate university professor in education.
Magee was a high school English and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) teacher for 20 years, a coach for swim and dive and water polo teams, a teacher leader and mentor, an accreditation coordinator, a high school librarian and an adult school site administrator.
Waddell has lived in the Bay Area for 15 years and while he is a foster parent of special needs youth, he has no other children. Garywaddell.org is his website.
Magee has lived in San Mateo County for eight years. She has two adult sons, Travis and Noah, who live in San Diego. Vote4nancy.org is her website.
This story contains 990 words.
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