December 13, 2017

Op-Ed: Educational Advocate Sandmann is Excellent Choice for Region 4 BOE, Offers Hope for Future

Returning from vacation, I was ecstatic to find a long-time Region 4 volunteer running for a seat on the Region 4 Board of Education (BOE).  For the past 13 years I have known Kate (Kathryn) Sandmann as a tireless advocate and a steadfast agent to build and enrich the educational experience for our community children.  Kate has served on the PTO/Parent Council for Essex Elementary School (EES), John Winthrop Middle School (JW), and Valley Regional High School (VRHS).  Kate is not a politician she is an educational advocate.  Not only does her candidacy give me hope for the future of Region 4, it gives me personally, a reason to reconsider sending my youngest to VRHS rather than a private school.  Not to mention Kate has always counseled me to keep my children in the Region 4 system based on her strong belief in our staff and potential outcome for all students in Region 4.

Kate has a vision of how public education can best meet the needs of our diverse population of learners.  Also, having two children who graduated from VRHS, she has knowledge of the complete Region 4 experience.  As the parent of any High School student knows, it is a much different experience than at the elementary school.  The value of speaking with articulate teens (and their families) about their educational experience makes Kate an invaluable candidate; one with insights to the strengths and challenges of a public education in a small town(s).  Kate has had the value of speaking to hundreds of students who were in the musical, sports, National Honor Society, etc.  She has had her finger on the pulse of our children’s educational experience for the past 15 years.  Some of her experience at the High School has helped move from a block schedule, which often put our students at a disadvantage with standardized testing necessary for college entrance.  She was also a parent volunteer that helped VRHS through a successful NEASC recertification.

As a professional who serves children with disabilities in a school system, I have first-hand knowledge about Kate’s commitment to this population.  Under her leadership as PTO President at Essex Elementary School a new playground, accessible to students of all abilities, was built by the PTO through fundraising.  Kate was also a vocal supporter of the pre-school move to Essex Elementary School.

Not every student will be college-bound, and Kate knows programs for these students need nurturing as well.  Programs like School-to-Work, and vocational training are also an important part of the educational experience at VRHS.

Kate also understands the challenge of meeting the educational needs of our gifted students.  Meeting the needs of these students is not mandated by law, but is a moral obligation that benefits our community as a whole.  Why do many of our students move on to private school after JW?  Losing these students does not strengthen Region 4.  It is necessary to infuse our BOE with leaders that understand the importance of strengthening and growing our programs for our gifted students.

It is a tricky time for education.  It is a time for fresh thinking and creative solutions.  Declining enrollment and budgetary constraints are challenges that make it necessary to think out of the box.  Kate’s experience with fundraising and budgeting for enrichment through PTO programs gives her the advantage of creativity in finding solutions.  Her experience with attending monthly Superintendent meetings for Region 4 has given her depth of insight into the challenges Region 4 faces in the coming years.  The leadership of Region 4 has expressed confidence in Kate’s decision making by including her in committees to hire the JW Principal, Region 4 Assistant Superintendent and the VRHS Vice Principal.

As a registered Republican, I will definitely be crossing party lines for a candidate I am confident has the benefit of every student as her number one priority.  A candidate who had the time, energy and enthusiasm our children need.  I will cast my vote for Kate Sandmann.

 

Sincerely,

 

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