Oneida Abrams is the student director from Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA) on the Berkeley School Board for the 2018-19 school year.
Abrams decided to run for a seat on the school board after a different student had already been elected to the position because, according to Abrams, the former representative had failed to attend any school board meetings and effect change at BTA. “Last year I noticed many things at our school were unorganized and we were not enforcing the environment to be professional … so I decided I would be the voice for our school,” said Abrams.
One of Abrams’s main focuses is creating an environment at BTA that better prepares students to be successful in their adult lives, an issue that she did not see being addressed in the previous school year. “I know school is a gateway to either your career or job in general and the demeanor and actions of the students do not mirror how we present ourselves in a workplace,” said Abrams. Abrams would also like to see enforcement of stricter cell phone policies to improve performance and limit distraction due to phone addiction among students.
Prior to being on the school board, Abrams wasn’t aware that teachers and parents are encouraged to attend and speak at board meetings. Being a student director also showed Abrams how much influence students and teachers can have on the decisions made by the board. “I eventually had to spread the word and tell my peers, ‘hey, come speak and let them know what changes that we need or want,’” said Abrams.
Her experiences on the school board have also taught her how to express her opinions professionally and effectively. Abrams said that her favorite part of being on the school board is the help and support that she has received from the other members. According to Abrams, the other board members have ensured that she is knowledgeable on the business of the school board and that she never feels uninformed or out of the loop. “The other board members have made me feel so comfortable and welcome,” Abrams said. “They have made it to where I feel just like one of them,” she continued.
Abrams wants to use her position as a school board director to advocate for BTA and inform the board on things that have been running smoothly at BTA, as well as the areas that are in need of improvement. “We have had some big changes over the last year and I truly believe the improvements have helped turn our school around,” said Abrams.