Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Makleff and Whelan-Wuest will rebuild trust

Please join me in voting for Ron Makleff and Ellen Whelan-Wuest for ACSD school Board. As a current Board member myself, I know these two will contribute to building healthy, vibrant, and high-achieving schools across our district that our communities can trust and rely on. They’re exactly the kinds of colleagues I’d like to work with to rebuild trust and fairness across our district’s towns and communities.

Ron, who lives with his family in Middlebury, is a seasoned educator who has taught across the world, including in war zones, at the middle, high school, and college level. His commitment to public education stems from this work, but also his hope that his young son will soon attend Mary Hogan and find a thriving and diverse school.

More than any other recent candidate from Middlebury, Ron understands the cultural and economic divides that tear at the fabric of our district, especially between Middlebury and our rural elementary schools. Ron supports the rights of rural towns to have an equitable voice in the decision to close their schools. He plans to focus his time on the Board fighting to improve educational standards.

He’s also not afraid to tackle big issues. In his interview with the Addy Indy, Ron offered a critical look at our district’s IB program. Having spoken with many teachers, parents and IB students over the last year, I know the questions he raises are often asked among many across the district.

Ellen Whelan-Wuest is currently the Cornwall representative on our board, and I hope she can continue in that role. I’ve known Ellen and her family for many years. She’s an extremely competent and caring advocate for our communities, which is why she was my first choice to replace Peter Conlon on the board after he resigned.

Professionally, Ellen’s work in criminal justice reform means she is constantly looking for policy solutions that appeal to groups with divergent political views. Her experience here will be helpful as our board faces hard choices in a community with a diversity of viewpoints on the future of our schools.

Locally, Ellen has helped our community fill a critical void by developing a non-profit independent childcare center for infants and toddlers. We need this kind of solutions-oriented advocacy work on our board. During her short time on the board so far, Ellen has shown she’s committed to community-oriented schools, and cares deeply about the classroom environment, pledging to focus on ensuring our kids have appropriate teacher-to-student ratios for the best learning outcomes.

Both candidates have been endorsed by the local grassroots group Rights and Democracy, and have shown their commitment to asking hard questions about the future of our schools, no matter where they are across our district. Building on their professional backgrounds as educators and child advocates, I believe both are the kinds of leaders our kids, families, teachers, and administrators can count on to show up and put in the hard work to build a stronger ACSD.

Jamie McCallum


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