2016 Board of Education Candidates

Avondale Board of Education Candidates

Karen Davies
Karen Davies
I have been living in the Avondale School District for six years with my husband and our two children who have been part of the Avondale family for four years.

Born and raised in Michigan, I graduated from Clarkston High School and have a BS from the University of Michigan. As a stay-at-home parent of two young girls, I learned that that every child is different and it requires creativity, collaboration and lots of listening to best serve each child.

Once my children began school in Avondale I developed relationships with their teachers and administrators and made myself available to help wherever needed. I worked with other elementary parents and administrators to re-establish kindergarten screening to ensure a good balance of students in each kindergarten classroom, and I advocated for lower class sizes in lower elementary. 

I was fully involved in the district's strategic planning process for Avondale 2020. As a School Board member, I will bring the elementary perspective, and will help ensure the integrity of Avondale 2020.
Donearl Johnson
Donearl Johnson
I am the grateful father of four amazing daughters and a husband to a wonderful wife of 20+ years. I served in the United States Navy for eight years and was awarded three Navy Achievement Medals during my enlistment.

Following my honorable discharge from the service I entered the non-profit sector working to make a positive impact in the lives of children, young adults and families. I had the honor of working with Focus Hope and Spaulding for Children - two groups committed to improving the lives of children and families. 

I serve in the community in several ways including on the Auburn Hills Public Safety Advisory Committee, the Avondale 2020 Strategic Planning Team, Calling All Dads (President and Founding Member), and My Color is Love. I have a strong passion and commitment for education and excellence. I am an effective communicator and understand the value of community. I personally believe in the Avondale School District and desire to be a vital part of why our district will be a model for others to emulate.
More information at: http://www.donearljohnson.org/
Wayne Kakuda
Wayne Kakuda

My wife, Bonnie, and I have lived in Auburn Hills for 21 years and we thoroughly enjoy the community. Currently, I hold an appointed position on the Avondale School Board that is up for re-election. I want to continue serving on the Board because I want to ensure that all students receive an enriching and fulfilling educational experience. To do so, I will work with stakeholders to not only build a brighter future for our children but also build a stronger community. We have three children attending Avondale schools, a 10th grader, an 8th grader, and a 4th grader.

I believe that my passion, work ethic, fiscal responsibility and leadership skills will enable me to help the School Board develop and implement great strategies. I initiated and co-lead innovative student focused activities designed to engage students in entrepreneurship while serving the community including Gift of Giving, Beans to Bags, and Moments Photography.

I have experience in leading and contributing in transformative projects including as a founding partner of BMK Solutions; as a management consultant with ATKearney; and as an engineer with Ford Motor Company. In addition, I hold a BS from GMI Engineering and Management Institution (Kettering University) and an MBA from University of Chicago.
More information at: http://www.kakuda.org/
Nick Kaltsounis
Nicholas Kaltsounis
I'm a proud parent of two daughters in the Avondale School District and have lived in the community for 16 years. Both of my daughters attend Avondale Middle School. 

I have served my community as a member of the Planning Commission of Rochester Hills for over ten years. Also, I am a long-standing council member of my local church, where I have also served as president.

I want to be on the Avondale Board of Education because I care about children. I care that they get the best education, at the best facilities in the State of Michigan. 

Through my experiences I've learned to listen, and make challenging decisions with a sense of urgency that has positively affected our community. I hope I'll be able to use this experience to make the same positive effect as a member of the Board.

I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Oakland University and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering also from Oakland University. I currently work in the high performance engine group of a local auto manufacturer.

League of Women Voters Questionnaire
"What are the top three Priority Issues facing your school district and what actions would you take to address them if elected to the school board?"


Karen Davies
1.) Declining enrollment is putting our district at risk. We can no longer be Oakland County's "Best Kept Secret". Our parents and administrators must work together through district-wide events, word of mouth, and local real estate agents to share the great accomplishments of our students.

2.) Disparity between elementary schools creates unnecessary competition. We will collaborate between buildings to share ideas and discover great new ways to provide the best learning opportunity to support every young student.

3.) We must support the families of our students. We will establish a Community Room to provide a safe place where parents can get tools on how to support their child's learning at home, where students can identify their passions and find the activities in the district that support those interests, and where we can better identify and provide access to agencies that support the social, emotional and special needs of our families.
League of Women Voters Questionnaire
"What are the top three Priority Issues facing your school district and what actions would you take to address them if elected to the school board?"

Donearl Johnson
Addressing the "Achievement Gap" is a top priority. A part of our mission is to engage all students and in pursuit of this, a creative and proactive approach is required to ensure that all students are engaged, supplemental educational needs are met, strategic partnerships are created, and a strong bond between parents/caregivers and teachers is fostered.

Secondly, I believe that we should strengthen the sense of community and embrace a shared culture. I will work to bridge gaps, listen and effectively communicate to diminish any impression of "Us vs. Them".

Finally, there is a notion of being the "Best kept Secret"; however our school district should be renowned for the richness of our diversity, the quality of the innovative and challenging curriculum, and for the world class leaders that we develop. This challenge can be addressed by embodying the "One Avondale" Spirit via an effective internal and external marketing strategy.
League of Women Voters Questionnaire
"What are the top three Priority Issues facing your school district
and what actions would you take to address them if elected to the school board?"

Wayne Kakuda
Top priority is to deliver enriching and fulfilling educational experience by:

1. Set high expectations for ourselves and our students - Set high expectations for ourselves and our children. Inspirational people in my life work tirelessly to become better, selflessly help others, and never blame others.

2. Inspire our students - Inspire our students to be intellectually curious. We need to develop students who can see problems and become intellectually curious to develop innovative solutions.

3. Develop innovative teaching methods - Continuously evaluate our methods to make learning engaging and satisfying by integrating real world problem solving into our approach.

4. Verify we are achieving student growth - No matter where the student starts or ends, we need to demonstrate and verify continual student growth.

5. Continuously look for improvement opportunities - Develop a culture that always evaluates what we are doing and looks for improvement opportunities.
League of Women Voters Questionnaire
"What are the top three Priority Issues facing your school district and what actions would you take to address them if elected to the school board?"

Nicholas Kaltsounis
-- Perception, District rankings among new home buyers, and Finances.The Avondale School District is a great school district with many good things happening at each school. Through communication and word of mouth we need to help our parents sell these strengths to the community to positively affect our perception outside of the district.

-- Rankings among new home buyers is low, and therefore enrollment has declined.

-- Finances is the result of the first two issues. Unfortunately today we face several tough decisions that will require us to possibly right size the district so we can have a future.

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