Moorestown Board of Education member-elect Sheryl Sawin comes to the table with more experience as an educator—by a wide margin—than any other member of the board.
As a former college professor, as well as having experience in several other avenues of education, Sawin is hoping she can bring her expertise to bear on a number of areas within the board’s purview, particularly curriculum.
“I have a very good handle on how students learn … and the resources that are needed for that to be done well,” she said, noting that she also has background in assessing the effectiveness of educational programs. “I’m intellectually interested in the educational process, and personally committed to it.”
Sawin has three children in the school district: Maggie, a senior at the high school; Benjamin, a high school sophomore; and Evelyn, a first grader at Baker Elementary. She lauded the curriculum changes at Baker—as well as the other elementary schools—but said, “I don’t like to pass (judgment) on anything I don’t have expertise on. This is only based on my experience as a parent, and a professor of writing and reading.”
Speaking of writing and reading, that’s one area of curriculum Sawin would like the district to place a greater emphasis on, as well service and experiential learning for middle and high school students.
Sawin’s background as an educator could also come into play during contract negotiations with the union this spring. Though her experience is at the college level—not public schools—Sawin said she “understands the culture” of being a teacher.
“And I think part of the problem with the last round of negotiations is there was a real culture clash” between the teachers, the administration, the board and the community, she said. “And one that was really unnecessary.”
The key to avoiding the kind of bitter impasse that plagued the last round of negotiations, Sawin said, is for both sides to truly listen to each other and understand where the other is coming from.
“Everybody thinks they know best,” she said. “But people don’t always stop to think why someone might be taking the position they’re taking.”
Sawin will be sworn in the board of education meeting at 7:30 tonight in the library at William Allen Middle School.