Melissa A. Sydlowski said she offers a perspective that she hopes will be beneficial to the Brookfield Board of Education.
“I’m not running because I don’t feel the school board has done a good job,” said the candidate for one of two available seats. “I am a teacher. I don’t teach at Brookfield schools, but I have lived here my whole life, and I felt that maybe my background and the education background that I have and being a teacher for 20 years could be a benefit. I just hope I can offer some positivity for this school system that I graduated from and that I have passion about.”
The other candidates are Sarah Kurpe and Mark Ferrara.
promoUnlike Sydlowski, who teaches at Trumbull Career and Technical Center, and Ferrara, a retired Pennsylvania school teacher, principal and superintendent, Kurpe does not have education experience to draw from. However, she believes she has skills she developed in the army, from the business world and as a mom that are equally important.
The army taught her to take her time to review issues and ask questions before formulating a plan for change, Kurpe said.
“You’ve got to understand a lot about what’s going on, and I don’t have that, yet,” she said. “I feel comfortable knowing where I need to go ask. I’m not afraid to ask.”
As part of her learning process, she said she would be willing to sit in on classes and even go to other school districts to see how they do things. She said she wants to examine employee retention, review contracts with outside firms and study up on Superintendent Toby Gibson’s plan to create a preschool program, something she talked about before Gibson made his goal public.
“I can’t chase everything, and I want to be clear about where I see priorities,” she said. “You’ve got to make sure you’re prioritizing what you believe you can change, will make the most impact.”
Ferrara said he will have a learning curve in transferring his knowledge of the Pennsylvania education system into Ohio, but said his track record does not rely on location.
“I know what it takes to be successful, and I’d like to bring that to Brookfield school district,” he said.
In the last district Ferrara worked at, in Greenville, Pa., the high school was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education for its academic achievement and progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Ferrara noted Greenville had a program to attract international students, and he thinks that would be good for Brookfield.
“Not throwing stones at what’s happened in the past, but fresh eyes, fresh ears, some innovation,” Ferrara said. “I think Brookfield has a lot to offer. I’d like to build on that.”