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Former Teacher Seeks Spot on Westport School Board

WESTPORT, Conn. – If there's one thing Westport resident and Board of Education candidate Jeannie Smith knows best, it's educating children. Before she became a mother of four, she worked as an educator in Westchester County for 11 years.

Mom to 6-year-old Caleb, 4-year-old Nathan, 2-year-old Chloe and 6-month-old Noah, Smith began her career as a fourth-grade teacher. From there, she became an inclusion teacher in a Special Education Inclusion program piloted at her school. She was later appointed as the school's academic interventionist and specialized in literacy development.

After having Caleb, now a kindergartner at King's Highway, Smith worked as an educational consultant for a private school in Manhattan where she helped train teachers. After moving to Westport with her husband David in 2008, Smith stayed active in education by serving two years on the board of St. Paul Christian School.

A new member of the Westport Young Woman's League , the League of Women Voters and a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Smith, a Republican, recently answered a few questions about the upcoming election. The following are her responses.

Question: Why do you want to get involved with the Board of Education?

Answer: Serving the community on the Board of Education has been a passion and a pursuit for over 20 years. My master’s in teaching from Fordham University, 15 years of professional educational experience and two years serving on a school board demonstrate my lifelong commitment to the education of children.

Q: What, to you, are the biggest issues facing the schools?

A: One is effectively preparing our students to meet the global challenge ahead of them, so they can compete with the rest of the world. Another is maintaining balance while being fiscally responsible. As an educator who has worked through 11 years of budgets, I know the reality of how to be fiscally responsible without sacrificing what’s best for our students.

Q: Why should people vote for you?

A: People should vote for me because I am the only candidate who is a professional educator. I spent 11 years as a full-time public school teacher in Westchester County and then was an educational consultant for a private school in Manhattan. I can provide the insight into what really happens in the classroom and how to ensure that every decision we make as a board serves the students best. I have worked successfully with teachers and administrators over the course of 11 budget seasons to creatively do more for the students with fewer resources. This unique perspective and experience will be extraordinarily valuable for the board in these challenging economic times.

Q: If you get elected, what do you want to help get accomplished?

A: I’m looking forward to being part of the implementation of Westport 2025, which will prepare our students to be creative and critical thinkers to solve real-world problems. As a professional educator, I can bring a distinctive new way of looking at how we spend resources and make sure in whatever we do, we protect our most important investment–our children. We need to be creative with how we seek cost savings by collaborating with our town.

Check back with The Daily Westport Monday to read about Board of Education candidate Michael Gordon.

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