Municipality of residence
I am a life-long Schuylkill Township resident.
Education and professional background
I attended Case Western Reserve University and received a BA in Art History with minors in Mathematics and Physics. I also did extensive elective coursework in Geology, Astronomy, and Computer Engineering. After school, I became an entrepreneur and launched Bryn and Friends Pet Care LLC, a service offering a wide variety of personalized, reliable, flexible, and convenient in-home pet care solutions.
Is there a particular issue that motivates you to run for school board?
I have no children of my own yet, but talking to friends and neighbors, I have heard first hand the struggles that our students have faced this past year. Hearing their stories and concerns has inspired me to step up and serve our community by running for school board.
What do you see as the primary role of the school board?
To me, the primary role of the school board is threefold: the board should advocate for students, support teachers, and listen to parents.
What would be your priorities for the school board, if elected?
If elected, my first priority will always be to put students first and to empower teachers to do the same. Right now, the most important things that we can do to achieve this are to focus on helping all students safely transition back to in-person learning and on ensuring that our schools remain open and sports and extracurricular activities continue as normal. In addition, I will prioritize students by working to keep politics out of education, using the model that schools should teach students “how to think, not what to think.”
What experiences or skills prepare you to serve as a school board member, what perspective or background do you bring to the table? What other community organizations or activities are you involved in?
As the owner of a small, local business, I like to joke that my specialty is “whatever it needs to be” in a given situation. All kidding aside, anyone with similar experience can attest that running your own business means constantly learning new skills. From organizing a complex schedule to managing customer service to keeping financial accounts, my professional experience has helped me develop an ability to adapt when faced with new or unexpected situations. Academically, I have studied and still have a great interest in a wide variety of fields. I strongly believe in the value of a “well rounded education” because I know first hand that it allows me to draw from every discipline to offer a thoughtful and diverse perspective. In addition, I believe that my age also gives me a helpful perspective because I am able to engage with and understand the needs of students in a more relatable manner than others might be able to. Finally, while I strive to be active and engaged in the community in many different areas, the organization that I am most involved with is the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society (SEPOS), hosted at the First United Methodist Church just down the street from the High School. One of SEPOS’ primary goals is to promote the conservation of native PA orchid species and their habitats. I have also been asked to serve on the society’s board of directors.
How would you determine your budget priorities? Any comments on the current PASD budget?
I will determine budget priorities by carefully assessing student and community needs, always being cognizant that these needs may shift year to year. In general, I believe that the number one budget priority should be student services such as academic, career, and mental health counseling. The goal of our schools should be to enable students to become successful members of our community. In order to do that, we need to ensure that they have everything that they need to achieve their academic and career goals. Also, I know that many community members have expressed concerns over the recently released Auditor General’s report and the pending findings of the forensic audit. I share those concerns and believe that transparency and accountability are the keys to solving any issues and answering any lingering questions.
In your opinion, what are the major issues facing the Phoenixville Area School District? What are your suggestions to address these?
I believe that one of the most important issues facing the district is the complex issue of students’ mental health. While this has undoubtedly been exacerbated and further complicated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, mental health is unfortunately not a new issue. I am encouraged by the current board’s focus on mental health and hope to continue and improve their efforts. I hope to see the district continue to work with qualified professionals to determine the students’ needs; however, I also believe that our current programs can be improved by finding ways to better communicate with students and parents. Our efforts can only be successful if families understand the signs that suggest a mental health issue might need to be addressed and also know what resources are available to help and how to access them. That being said, another issue that I hope the new board prioritizes is communication with the community, including improving both board-community and administration-community communication. I have spoken to many people who feel that there is a lack of communication in the district, whether they have questions and concerns about specific board issues or they don’t know what resources are available for their struggling student. Sometimes, it turns out that the information was available, but the individual simply didn’t know where to go to find it. As a board, it will be our duty to ensure that information is both available and accessible. Communication is one of those areas that will never be perfect and will always need improvement, but I have several ideas which I hope will help our community. For example, the district can consider asking parents to act as volunteer “liaisons” who stay up to date and help disperse information to the community. As they engage on social media and have conversations with their neighbors, these volunteers would be equipped simply to share information, share where to access that information, help the community to know what resources are available, and direct any questions or concerns beyond their scope to the appropriate district officials.
Could you support a board decision you did not vote in favor of? Why or why not?
Yes. I believe that, while all members are welcome to their own opinions and should freely deliberate ideas, each is ultimately only one voice on a board of nine. Once the board collectively makes a decision, that decision should be respected. The one exception to this stance would be in the highly unlikely (ideally impossible) situation that the board majority somehow votes for something completely unethical or illegal.
Do you have a campaign website or page where voters can learn more about you?