On Wednesday, August 14, the two candidates for a three-year term on the school board in Brooklin met at the Brooklin School to discuss their approaches to education and policy.
About a dozen people attended the “Meet the Candidates” event to hear Christi Gross and Emily Blair Stribling. The election is for the remainder of a three-year term from which Jessica Grant resigned earlier this year. The term began in April of this year and will extend until April of 2016.
The polls will be open from 2 to 8 p.m. on Friday, August 23, at the town hall.
Current school board chairman Mike Sealander welcomed both candidates, saying there aren’t many times that there are two candidates for a seat. “We’re looking forward to having one of you join us, and we hope the other runs again,” said Sealander.
Gross grew up in Sedgwick and has seen three of her children move through the Brooklin School. She now has a granddaughter about to start preschool, she said, and that is why she’s interested in joining the school board.
“I’m here, I’d like to help,” said Gross.
Stribling was a teacher for 30 years in New York state, where she helped create an enrichment program for students. She also worked with writers in a teacher’s program. Stribling has lived in Brooklin for five years and is an author.
“I have a huge heart for education,” said Stribling. “There are challenges and incredible potential here.”
One of the questions from the audience asked what the candidates would do to help the overall efforts to recruit young families with children to Brooklin.
“It’s a problem if the school gets too small,” said Stribling. “But one of the benefits of the small school is that we can be innovative, and help draw students from other schools. If there’s a good program, we’ll attract students.”
Gross said for her children, the Brooklin School offered a strong special education program. “I know there are families from out of town with children who want to come here because of that,” said Gross. The other question, said Gross, is how to encourage students to “get back home” to Brooklin. Part of that needs to be more employment and housing, she said.
Stribling said her focus as a school board member would be on serving the public and not shying away from any needed changes or innovation to help the school stay relevant.
“A community without a school is a really sad place,” said Stribling. She said she would like to see more risk-taking in terms of curriculum and more community participation.
“We have a great opportunity,” said Stribling. “We can take some risks and do some daring things.”
Gross said she thought the community was already in the school, and that there seemed to be a good community turnout at local events. Gross said her primary focus was to help the school remain part of the community.
Each candidate was then asked what she would tell a graduating eighth-grade class if she were speaking at graduation.
“I would tell the students that education is very, very important,” said Gross. “I remember Jaylee’s class trip, and sitting around with a bunch of the girls and talking about the future. I encouraged them to study hard and to think about their education.”
“I would ask them to consider what they have learned here, the gifts from teachers and parents,” said Stribling. “Especially about care and love, and tell them wherever they go forward to care about their neighbor, the earth, their community.”
The election will be held on Friday, August 23, and polls will be open from 2 to 8 p.m. at the town hall.