New London – This year’s Board of Education race features 13 candidates vying for seats on the seven-member board. Nominees express a desire to serve children and help shape the direction of the school district, which is transitioning to a loving district.
There are seven Democratic candidates, including three incumbents; five Republican candidates and one candidate from the Green Party.
Webster Scott, 60, is the orchard manager at Scott’s Orchard & Nursery in Glastonbury.
Grandfather of two Nathan Hale students, he said he would like to have a voice in decisions about educational institutions in the city.
Scott has no formal education, but said he was an avid learner and recently obtained a GED through New London Adult Education. He has home-schooled his six children for the past 36 years and said he believes education is a primary parental responsibility, “and that our local school system – with family interaction – is a useful tool for to provide our students with a balanced education “.
“As a board member, I would emphasize that patriotism, civic responsibility and personal responsibility are an integral part of the school experience,” he said.
Susan Tierney, 49, mother of three and owner of Capt. Scott’s Lobster Dock, served on the Board of Trustees between 2017 and 2019. She is a member of the Community Center Task Force and sits on the School’s Facilities and Design Review Committee.
While her children are no longer in the school district, she said, “I still care deeply about what goes on in our schools.”
Tierney said she wanted to continue cooperation between the school district and the city’s recreation department, retain teachers and learn more about how the school will handle marketing to attract students from Magnet Schools across the outside the city.
“The kids have had a tough few years,” Tierney said. “We really need to focus on helping kids get back to some kind of normalcy.”
Scott Ennis, 49, who is retired due to disability from hemophilia, is a graduate of the New London public school system and a long-time resident of the city who said he was following from near school problems.
Ennis said bullying and access to special education are key issues for him in this election.
“During my years at NLPS, I was treated differently because of my disability, not only by other students but by the system itself. It seemed there were no systems in place to help kids like me who needed special accommodations, ”he said.
Ennis said that new voices are important and that he is not the type to ‘get along to get along’, and ‘party alliances stay at the door when we sit down to decide what is. best for our school system and its students ”.
“My only goal is to make decisions that improve the lives of New London’s greatest asset – our children,” he said.
Marilyn DeShields, 68, is a retired assistant director of the Navy Child and Youth program, where she worked for 36 years. She said she decided to come forward because she felt her experience working with children and families could be beneficial.
“There seems to be an abundance of inappropriate interactions between children and teachers / adults, and maybe I can offer a new perspective on how to end it,” she said. “I have worked with children and families for over 40 years. I am fair, calm and care deeply about the well-being of children and families.”
Lydia Larrea, 30, a mother and housewife who moonlights as a garden designer, is a part-time assistant in the Office of the Registrar of Electors in New London and a seasonal worker in her family’s farm store.
Home-educated Larrea credits her parents for her success in college and said: “While I’m not cut out to be a home school mom myself, I would love to have the opportunity to participate in the education of my children and in the decisions made about it. front.”
She said she is standing up to have a voice in the decision-making process, believes the school board could benefit from a new perspective and thinks the school district should reconsider its position on mandatory masking for students.
“My fear is that prolonging a return to true normalcy will have far-reaching adverse effects on the social, emotional and intellectual development of children,” she said.
Nathan Caron, 38, is a former Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School teacher and former City of New London employee who now works in the City of Groton Human Resources Department. He has a master’s degree in education, is certified in English arts in high school and says it was his passion for education that drove him to seek a place on the school board.
Caron said he would like to be involved in the development of magnetic pathways and believes student well-being and emotional well-being should be taken into account. “I think we’re going to have to be really aware of the learning loss due to COVID and come up with a plan to address it,” he said.
Caron said he had served in an apolitical capacity as city clerk and would bring the same philosophy to the school board and “work for everyone.”
Elaine Maynard Adams, 62, vice president of finance at Jaypro Sports, is running for a second term on the board. She previously served on the city charter review committee and the council of commissioners of the housing authority and the board of education between 1991 and 1999 and 2007 and 2009.
Maynard Adams said she would like to continue her work on the council, especially now, when the district faces so many challenges. “We are seeing students and staff presenting with problems exacerbated by the pandemic,” she said. “Children have been isolated for over a year from their peers and teachers. There is so much work to be done. “
She said she was proud of her role in the school board’s accomplishments, including the creation of the Childhood to Age 8 Resource Center, which expanded the district’s preschool offerings and is something she called a “game changer for our kids.”
Danni Cruz, 18, graduated from New London High School in 2021 who was chosen earlier this year to fill a vacant position on the school board following the departure of member Queenie Diaz. Cruz previously served as the student liaison on the council’s curriculum committee and the high school principals’ search committee.
Cruz, who studies specials education on the University of Connecticut campus at Avery Point in Groton, said it was important to have a voice of youth and young people of color on the board.
“I really want to focus on improving communication between families and the school,” said Cruz. “It’s also important that we talk about mental health, not only with the students, but also with the staff. “
Frank Silva, 35, is from Puerto Rico and has lived in New London for over 20 years. He works as the director of community care and administration at Alliance for Living and is a domestic violence counselor for Family Reentry, a New Haven group that counsels perpetrators of domestic violence.
“I have been a community advocate for the City of New London for over 20 years now,” he said. “I think it’s an opportunity for me to be able to serve. Being a citizen and being a resident and seeing the problems we face. … I think I can be the voice of unity.
Bianca Alexis, 27, is married and helping raise her two nephews, and she is Haitian-American in her first run for elected office. She has lived in the city for 23 years.
Alexis is a mental health therapist who runs a private practice specializing in adults and adolescents and addressing topics such as risk prevention and trauma. She graduated in psychology and mental health counseling and is working towards a doctorate in clinical psychology and leadership in higher education.
She previously worked at the Root Center for Advanced Recovery and is the former Assistant to the Director of the Arts Magnet Course in New London Public Schools.
When asked why she was running for a job, Alexis replied, “Why not now, that’s the real question.”
“I have the time and the will to do it now more than ever,” she said. I have a lot to offer. Education is important to me. I saw that there is a need for someone who advocates for mental health.
Jefferey Hart, 39, parent of three, the youngest in preschool, is a construction estimator at Jaypro. He is currently vice-president of the school board and is running for his third term on the board.
Among other initiatives, Hart said he was eager to set up a fund that provides incentives to hire and retain alumni as school district staff to help support diversity in staff. “If you recruit from among your students, your faculty starts to look like your students. “
Of his decision to run for re-election, Hart said, “I threw my roots here. I have no choice but to make the public school system the best it can be.
Bryan Doughty, 47, father of three and music publisher, is running for his second term on the school board. He is president of the Kiwanis Club of New London, a volunteer with Whalers Helping Whalers and involved in several committees including the Community Center Task Force.
Originally, he ran for a position with the school board because he was frustrated with the lack of answers to questions about developing the arts magnet path. He said he was proud of his work on the school’s maintenance and construction committee, which oversees two major construction projects at the middle and high school.
Doughty said if re-elected, part of his goal would be to help the district reconnect with families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I want to focus on greater community involvement, finding new and better ways to communicate with our community,” he said.
Keith Kimball, 51, is a semi-retired accountant who comes from a family of educators and has a daughter in the school district. “I want to combine my love of education (…) with my professional experience as someone who is very good at analyzing finances,” he said.
“I want to increase the funding of our schools so that they are more equitable,” he added. “I’m going to have to push the city, push the state to level the playing field.”
Kimball advocates the use of federal funding to pay for on-site COVID-19 testing for city employees and on school campuses. “We shouldn’t ask parents to take time off work to take a test so that their child can go back to school when a nurse can do a rapid response test.”