Wood for school board: She is 100% focused on improving children’s outcomes

To the editor:

I am writing to endorse Paula Wood for our board of education.

When I first met Paula, she was the captain of the Hutchinson Elementary School enrichment ship—a job so large and unwieldy that it was later split into four roles. In time, I filled one of those seats, and to this day, I can’t understand how Paula managed it, while making it even more comprehensive and fun than it had been previously. Her efforts in laying the groundwork for Hutchinson’s most lucrative fundraiser have remained to this day, and we are still so thankful for her efforts. The thing about Paula is, while I’m sure she wanted to give Hutchinson a lasting way to raise money, she was absolutely doing it for the kids. She just wanted to provide fun, engaging activities that our kids may or may not have had access to otherwise.

This is Paula, pure and simple. Distill her motivations, and you’ll find that she is 100% focused on improving outcomes for our children. Her approach is comprehensive; she is concerned with academics and also with giving children the experiences and tools needed to build confidence within themselves, to go forward in their journeys with a solid understanding of who they are. That is truly what I want in an advocate with our superintendent. When I’ve asked her for guidance, since her children are older than mine and also such great kids, I have found her to be very focused on academic achievement, but also extremely supportive of my children’s musical, artistic and sports interests. They should absolutely start out in honors classes—but have I also signed them up for the Pelham Music Festival? Would they be interested in rugby? I am thankful Paula takes the time to see who my children are and what is positive for them and their mental health, since ultimately that is what determines how successful they’ll be in their classes.

In a world where Covid-19 is our new reality, where our children’s mental health, physical health and learning were impacted by virtual and hybrid schooling, that is where the focus should lie. If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that standard ways of measuring success do not always tell the whole story. We need to focus on emotional wellness, on creativity and affirming all kids—those who are and who are not neurotypical. This is what ensures they perform well academically, and what will make Pelham unique in Westchester. I trust Paula to do this. Her track record in this community is proof that she amplifies diverse voices and advocates for those who are not getting the help they need from our district. Her dedication to help pass the bond to fund the new Hutchinson, her work on the board of education advocacy committee and her work on both the Pelham Art Center and Pelham Music Festival boards is proof of this. She puts her time and talents towards advancing our community to meet these goals on the many local boards she has been and will continue to be a part of.

Like many of you, I looked at both a map of Metro North stops and great schools and landed in Pelham for our excellent schools. I’ve been a parent in this district for eight years, and it is truly special. I want to see our district continue to be competitive in Westchester, while focusing on the development and performance of our children. For me, Paula is the first choice to accomplish this. I ask you to please join me in voting for Paula Wood on May 17. Thank you.

Lynda Banfield

43 Chestnut Ave.