Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Harthan offers candidate profile

My name is Laura Harthan, and I am running for a seat on the ACSD school board. As a child, I grew up in Connecticut and New Hampshire, where we moved when I was 12. I attended 7th & 8th grade in Cornish, N.H., which has one small K-8 school, and then attended Hartford High School in White River Junction, Vt. Following High School, I attended Cornell University, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. During college breaks, I occasionally worked as a substitute teacher for the Lebanon, N.H., school district, where my mother was a bus driver (and is currently the director of transportation). 

After graduation, I moved back to New Hampshire and worked as a research technician at Dartmouth College. After realizing I missed being involved in agriculture, I returned to school and pursued graduate degrees at Ohio State and Virginia Tech in Animal Science. In 2016, we moved our family back to Vermont to be closer to family and for work. I am currently employed as a dairy nutritionist. My husband currently teaches music at MUMS and previously taught music at Mary Hogan School, Bridport Central School, and Shoreham Elementary School. Our son currently attends Mary Hogan School and our daughter will also, when she is old enough.

I am running for the school board because our district is at a crossroads, and I bring a unique perspective and a willingness to listen critically and work together to meet the complex needs of our school community. I have personal experiences in both small and larger size schools. I believe our district can find a solution that allows our students to have equitable access to educational services while preserving our member towns’ sense of community. We need to focus on attracting and retaining administrators that support teachers and staff in meaningful ways so our teachers can focus on the essential job of educating our students. We need to consider whether the academic rigor of the diploma program at the high school level truly outweighs the tremendous stress and inflexibility placed on our juniors and seniors. We must reconsider if IB is truly valuable to the district or if we can accomplish the benefits of a more streamlined academic transition between grade levels and an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration without the hefty price tag.

I have attended most of the school board meetings over the past year due to growing concern about the issues at our district schools, most notably at MUMS. I sought to understand the goings-on at the district level and figure out what I could do to help improve things. I was dismayed to see a parent be told they couldn’t ask a question during a presentation to the board. In response to this, I advocated for adopting A21 regarding public participation at board meetings. The board has since adopted this policy. I believe there’s more work to do to restore the community’s trust in the board and make board happenings more accessible to the public, but I believe it can be done.

I ask you to please vote for me for the ACSD school board. If elected to the board, I promise to do my best to listen to all sides and work amicably with all community members to achieve these goals. We have a lot of work ahead of us as a district, but we can come together as a greater community to best serve our students’ educational needs.

Laura Harthan

Middlebury 

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