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Two vying for seat on Vergennes-area school board

VERGENNES — One of two contested races on the Vergennes Town Meeting Day ballot sees two candidates, Margaret Carrera-Bly and Chrystal Little, both seeking a term on the Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD) Board.

Get to know a little bit about these candidates by reading their answers to several questions posed by the Independent.

MARGARET CARRERA-BLY

The Independent is asking similar questions of the four candidates for three seats on the Vergennes City Council. Incumbents Ian Huizenga and Sue Rakowski both filed for another two-year term, and they are on the March 7 ballot along with challengers Cheryl Burnham and Don Perlee. Their responses will be published in a future edition.

Little and Carrera-Bly both also sought appointment to fill an opening on the ANWSD board this past fall, but that went instead to Michael Kane, who is running unopposed on the March 7 ballot to keep his seat.

Little, a parent of a Vergennes Union High School senior and a recent graduate, in her initial application noted she has been active with of the Commodore Friends of Music and a costume department co-leader for the annual school musical, and is an assistant varsity softball coach and former AAU basketball board member.

Carrera-Bly’s résumé notes she works remotely for a San Francisco firm that consults nationally with statewide and classroom-level science education programs. Before then she worked for five years for the Vermont Agency of Education as a Science Specialist and taught for three years at Otter Valley Union High School.

1. Please supply a brief bio.

CARRERA-BLY: I am a Vergennes Elementary School mom, an educational researcher, former teacher, and current tax-payer here in our little city. I have experience serving as the Bridge School board in an executive position. Additionally, I serve on the Vermont Science Teaching Association board as well as the FIRSTinVT (FIRSTrobotics) board. I am a passionate science educator and researcher hoping to serve my community better.

As far as my civic engagement — due to my role at the state, I was unable to serve in any civic role outside the Agency of Education as I represented the entity. Since I left not that long ago, I’ve been reaching out to different groups in Vergennes to learn more about how to get involved in my home city. Though I do consider teaching and working for the state a civic role in some capacity.

During my tenure at the (Vermont Agency of Education), I served as the science specialist for the state and helped implement proficiency-based learning systems and science standards K-12.

CHRYSTAL LITTLE

LITTLE: I am a “return to my roots” Addison County resident and single mom of two amazing teenage girls. I was born and raised in Vermont, went to grades K-12 exclusively in Vergennes, graduating from the Trinity College of Vermont in 2001 with a degree in Psychology and one in Early and Elementary Education. After spending 15 years in other states, I returned to Vermont to raise my daughters in the community that shaped me.

Currently I work at Collins Aerospace as a Production Controller and Analyst and have been with the company since 2018. I enjoy my job helping to create greater communication and efficiency within the department while leaving ample time for a work/life balance to support the diverse endeavors of my daughters, Kaitlyn and Jasmine.

2. Why are you interested in serving on the ANWSD board? 

LITTLE: I always knew I wanted to stay connected to my community after my kids graduated high school and that the appearance of my involvement would change. This year my second (and last) child will be graduating and moving on to higher education in the fall leaving me the bandwidth to dedicate ample time to giving back to the community in a new way. I am passionate about giving back to my community, a quality public education system and collaborating with other people who feel the same way. We are on the precipice of public education evolving once again and, although change is hard, I am committed to contributing to it being the same quality it was for me and my kids.

CARRERA-BLY: I recognize that our district must make difficult decisions and I want to be part of that decision-making process. As a parent, I recognize that access to educational opportunities and dynamic learning experiences will prepare my child for college and/or career, and most importantly, to be a successful, responsible, critically thinking citizen.

3. Are there specific issues or concerns that you would like the school board to address during your tenure?

CARRERA-BLY: As a former educator, I recognize that teachers are the lifeblood in schools and deserve to be supported, personally and professionally. It is their job to educate the next generation and they are being emotionally and professionally drained. And as a taxpayer, I recognize that all these things require capital that I (and many others) simply do not have. The balance of all these things puts our district in a position where they have to make tough choices that impact all sectors of the Vergennes community. I hope to serve as a thought partner between the community and the board and be part of the solution that comes from robust and healthy debate.

LITTLE: I think it is important, at this time, to come together as a “post-merger vote” community and ensure our next steps are always in the best interest of the children, families and members of the greater Vergennes area. The district voted overwhelmingly to remain independent and I want to focus on what that looks like and to also ensure the successful transition of the 6th grade to our high school. I want to continue to take care of our well-maintained, superior facilities, which remain a destination location for a variety of events proving to be a visible, enjoyed return on investment. Our teachers are the heart and strength of our school system and need our support as well. I feel an intact ANWSD vision that remains one of positive, constructive, informative and careful advancement is essential.

4. To sum up, why should the residents of Vergennes support you for this position?

LITTLE: Over the years I have served on the Commodore Friends of Music, the AAU board, managed an AAU team, co-chaired the high school musical costume department and am currently a member of the Varsity Softball Staff. I have volunteered over 120 hours a year for over four years in a multitude of facets for the greater school community from field trips to events, parades to tournaments. At this junction in my life, I want to help shape the future of our district with the other, dedicated, caring members of our school board and community. I am grateful for my education here and that which it provided my daughters. Paying it forward is the next step of my journey.

CARRERA-BLY: I feel that my background as an educator and a state of Vermont employee allows me to communicate policy to different stakeholder groups, and I am known to help translate policy into practice.

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