Retired teacher and Kenai resident Lorraine "Sammy" Crawford was appointed to fill a school board vacancy in 1998, then elected to retain the seat. She is now running for a second term.
"I'm running because I care about education. I'd like to see the public schools continue to improve," she said.
Crawford brings 30 years of award-winning teaching experience to the board.
Prior to retiring in 1996, she taught history and government in peninsula high schools for a generation. In 1988, she was the Alaska Teacher of the Year and a finalist for the National Teacher of the Year. In 1993, she won a prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. She twice chaired the district social studies curriculum committee and served on the state committee that set the Alaska history standards, now part of the statewide Quality Schools Initiative reform movement.
In addition to her teaching experience, she has served on other boards and been active in numerous community service groups. She brings to the board a unique perspective of one who has seen the direct impacts board decisions have on students, she said.
Crawford describes herself as a strong advocate of public education, but sees room for improvement.
She is optimistic about reforms such as the standards movement, and said she feels privileged to have been involved with the current Quality Schools Initiative from the beginning back during the most recent Hickel administration.
Her top priority is to provide the best education to the most students.
To do so, the district must attract and retain the best teachers -- challenges with tight money and a national teacher shortage looming, she said.
"One of the things that has me concerned is that the morale of teachers is at an all-time low," she said. "With declining enrollment, it is really hard to be specific about raises."
The employees are central to making schools work for the students, she said.
"It is a people business. We are not making widgets here," she said.
The district's greatest strengths, in her opinion, are its employees on all levels and the parents, who lead what she called "an amazing" level of community support.
The district's weaknesses are the declining enrollment and related financial shortfalls. The district should work on better addressing the needs of families now home schooling, she said.
Longtime Soldotna resident Rosie Reeder said she is supporting Crawford in the election.
Reeder described Crawford as an insightful, hard-working person who has won the respect of adults and students and will always do what is best for Kenai Peninsula children.
"She has been on both sides," Reeder said. "The word that keeps coming to mind is 'dedicated.'"
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