Jacqueline Kelleher, Waterbury, and Ashley Woods, Warren, are two write-in candidates for the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board. Both were invited to answer the same questions that all candidates – on the ballot and as write-ins – were given in the last three weeks. Woods declined to answer the questions.


VR: What, in your opinion, is the role of an effective school board member?

Kelleher: The effective school board member should work collaboratively and productively with other board members to achieve an agreed-upon mission and vision: improving outcomes for children and youth and ensuring access, equity and opportunity through the educational system the community trusts and values. An effective board member should be a critical thinker and ask for information that informs decisions. I will be an effective board member because I believe in our public schools, maintain channels of communication, listen to community feedback, handle stress, manage conflict and strive for consensus, focus on important issues and am open to learning from schools, other board members and the community.


VR: What traits and/or experience do you think are important for a school board member to have? What has prepared you for this position?

Kelleher: I’ve been in education since 1996. I’ve been an advocate for my children with disabilities so know the experiences families have. I’ve served four years as a school board member for Connecticut's largest urban school district. As an AOE staff member, I’m familiar with state rules and drafting policy, so I’ll have a great lens with evaluating school policy and ensuring alignment with state and federal requirements. My experience in these areas will make for a smooth transition and I’ll be able to hit the ground running. I love being able to apply my knowledge and experience as a form of community service and I would be honored to share it with HUUSD.

VR: What issues in your town and/or the HUUSD community are most important to you? How do you plan to address them?

Kelleher: I’m concerned with the critical shortage of educators and support staff Vermont faces and aim to work with the state, higher education, other districts, and community partners to ensure we attract, and retain a qualified workforce. I’m dedicated to understanding equity/success gaps in my community - achievement, graduation/drop out, discipline, etc. and being proactive in ensuring we address inequities. I’m eager to engage in the work and problem solving we anticipate for the implementation of Act 173 and strengthening our VTmtss and Early MTSS framework. I’d like to ensure we have strong family engagement and look forward to getting to know the needs and desires of parents and guardians.


VR: What are your top priorities if elected to the HUUSD school board?

Kelleher: Support the new superintendent and establish a good working relationship, evaluate our district policies which serve as a road map for our district and build public support and understanding of our public education. 

VR: What do you think are the greatest strengths of the HUUSD? What do you see as areas for improvement?

Kelleher: I think the board does a great job communicating its activities to the community and demonstrated an engaged process during the latest superintendent search. I look forward to learning from the board what the board thinks are areas of improvement and I promise I will be part of the solution. This is such an exciting opportunity! I am hungry to engage in this work.

Woods and Kelleher are among the candidates seeking a seat on the HUUSD Board. Current board chair Torrey Smith, Duxbury, and vice chair Tim Jones, Fayston, are not seeking reelection. No one is vying for those seats. Jeremy Tretiak, Waitsfield, is also not seeking reelection. Bobbi Rood is running for the Waitsfield seat. Cindy Senning, appointed to fill the balance of an open Duxbury seat last summer, is seeking election to the remaining two years for that seat, while Victoria Taravella is seeking a three-year term for the Waterbury seat vacated by Caitlin Hollister. Scott Culver, Waterbury, is not seeking reelection and write-in candidate Jacqueline Kelleher is running for that seat. Jonathan Clough, Warren, is not seeking reelection and write-in candidate Ellen Kucera is running for his seat along with Woods.