Candidate for GUSD Area E: Neda Farid

By Mikaela STONE

Neda Farid believes that “the measure of who you are is where you roll your sleeves up … what you’re doing at school sites and what you’re doing in the community [for] the organizations you serve, the students you serve, and the parents you assist.”

Farid has rolled her sleeves up as a band mom, where she drove students to meets, chaperoned in school buses, provided snacks, washed dishes, cleaned floors and organized on a tight budget. Between Farid and her fellow volunteers, there is “teamwork and collaboration, all the things we teach in the classroom in action.” For her, volunteering is about giving back to a community that has “shaped the formative years of [her] child’s life… we want our children [as students] to be happy, to thrive and find their way in life.” For her volunteer work and leadership, she received a lifetime achievement award from the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), during which the CV marching band played in her honor. She considers the moment her proudest achievement after the birth of her son. Although that son is grown, Farid still attends Crescenta Valley theater and band performances, including the recent jazz night.

“If I could leave one mark, it would be a standard space for arts education,” she said. “It’s the greatest equalizer. It allows every person to contribute in a non-confrontational, non-pressured, welcoming way.” She believes arts should be available regardless of language, level of ability, or economic status and that education should be “more than reading, writing, and arithmetic.” The core of her campaign is the “want for all kids [to receive] the basic fundamental liberties we enjoy” within the “lush tapestry” that is the GUSD.

Question CVW: Given the realities of the current school board climate, what do you realistically believe you can accomplish if elected in your first term?

Answer Farid: Farid believes that she can better ensure all community voices are heard: “It is my hope that we can go back to twice a month meetings, because it is my belief that the more opportunities to engage … that we afford our community … the richer the accomplishments will be. The whole purpose of a public meeting is to hear from the public and to have that interaction, even if it is for measured doses. As a community member, I will be everywhere, whether I am elected or not, and that is not going to change [but for some school board members that is their only interaction with the community]. The most important job is hiring a qualified superintendent; your secondary job, or equally important, is making sure you can balance the budget. So if you are listening to the community or out and about in the community then you will channel that input into the policies that you bring forward and you will have those conversations with your superintendent. As a board member you have to be looking at ground zero to figure out how to deliver on what the needs of the community are. When we talk about preparing our kids for the future, we have to prepare all our kids to the future. It’s not the kids that happen to be in one pocket of the community, of one background, or in one socioeconomic area. As a unified district, [it’s] all of our kids.”

CVW: Does Farid concur with the importance of compensating teachers for their hard work?

Farid: Farid believes that there is not a shortage of teachers, but rather that there is a retention issue. She believes that teachers deserve to be paid enough to live in the community they serve if they so choose. A teacher rushing back to their own child’s school for pickup misses after school events, as well as shouldering the burden of planning their day around more time spent traveling. She noted that local teachers have an advantage to understanding their students because “their students are the peers of their own children.” Because no one can be in two places at once, teachers who live outside the community either miss out on sharing community wide experiences, such as club events and the Montrose Christmas Parade, with their students and colleagues, or miss out on the comparable events in the community in which they live. While she acknowledges proper compensation should be reflected in the salaries of teachers, she also believes that there is more to supporting teachers than just money. Many communities have partnerships where housing opportunities are available to educators. While the GUSD looks at how to bolster students’ mental health, Farid points out that social and emotional needs apply to teachers, too, as teachers’ mental states trickle down onto their students.

CVW: What is the single most important experience you will bring to your office if elected?

Farid: “I will sit with everyone and allow everyone a seat at the table” which, she adds, is a skill improved upon with practice.

Farid recognizes that her “experience as a parent might not be the same as parents in different parts of [GUSD]. My experience as a parent might not be the same as one who perhaps emigrated as an English language learner… all of this to say that I believe everyone brings good intentions. If you want to bring a collaborative culture, you have to be open to understanding who is playing. If we are building an orchestra, yes I can play by myself and it’ll sound lovely and I can have two of my friends who play completely different instruments play with me and we might end up sounding lovely, but the key to getting an orchestra with brass players and percussion players and wind players, meaning people with different backgrounds, with different needs, with different sensitivities and sensibilities and cultures and identities, to get all of that together to sound beautiful and enjoyable, requires us to give each person the ability to shine. Each piece is a vital part of the composition. I believe as a district we make a mission we can all buy into.”

CVW: What has Neda Farid learned from her time as Glendale Council PTA President?

Farid: “The council president oversees the units at the sites, so one of the things I learned was that what’s perfectly normal and a given at, say, Mountain Avenue [Elementary School], doesn’t exist at Columbus Elementary, doesn’t exist at Cerritos. As PTA council president, you see these huge gaps between our sites. [Some sites] don’t have parking, so parents do not get the luxury of pulling over and walking their kids to the door; kids are being dropped three or four blocks away, let’s say on a busy street. So when we say, ‘How come parents aren’t engaged?’ – if you have to park 20 minutes [away] and you have two other kids in car seats and strollers, [it’s difficult]. That’s why they’re not engaged. They’re not showing up because it’s hard, they’re not showing up because [some sites] don’t have a quiet place for them to leave their other child and participate in a meeting, they’re not showing up because the meeting is held at a time they are working. So, as council president, it’s important that you understand that not all sites have the same resources you do.”

Farid: “I love the community. I genuinely care about our schools and it is home. I operate through a lens of: When I walk into Trader Joe’s, I don’t want anyone to say ‘There’s Neda, let’s go yell at her. I make my choices and I live my life with the understanding that I am looking forward to bumping into people who I know, who know me. What I mean is I’m here to stay. I’m not here as a stepping stone to go live somewhere else. My family, my extended family, is back east. I chose this community, I will die in this community. I have role models of every age [in this community like] the late Harriet Hammons. I’d see her show up to events and say, ‘I want to be like Harriet.’ I want to be a pillar of good in this community. I want people to say, when I’m hunched over in a wheelchair at a CVIM [Crescenta Valley Instrumental Music] event, ‘Oh wow that’s Neda! Oh my god, she’s still alive?’ I never want my choices to be something I have to run from.”

She knows she is making choices for the community that she herself is going to live with. This is her home and she wants to “treat it like the inside of her home.”

More information about Neda Farid can be found at