Opinions

Why Stewart, why now?
Our Fluvanna school system has made great strides in the past five years. We have received full accreditation and have been recognized by several different organizations as “best in class.” Why? Because of good leadership. We have an opportunity to see our schools continue to be “best in class” by electing Shirley Stewart to represent the Rivanna District for the School Board on Nov. 7.

Why should Shirley be elected to represent the Rivanna District? That is a great question. It comes down to a combination of three things: a passion for education; proven leadership abilities and community involvement.

I met Shirley when she moved here from Vermont in 2011. We were both in the same Fluvanna Leadership Development Program class. We worked closely together and I got to know her very well. After graduation Shirley went on to serve on our steering committee and helped develop the curriculum for subsequent classes. Her insightful questions and willingness to roll up her sleeves and “get ‘er done” attitude was awesome. She has stayed involved in the community since, up to and including her entry into the School Board race.

Shirley has over 30 years of educational experience as a teacher, administrator and principal. She understands what makes “good bones” in a rural school system. She brings a proven track record in the educational field. Her innovative ideas and her keen understanding of the role of the School Board in setting direction and providing resources and developing policy will serve us well.

Finally, Shirley brings a life-long passion for education to the school system. Her work at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, helping to train the next generation of Virginia’s teachers, will serve our school system well as she brings a fresh perspective on current best practices in K-12 pedagogy as well as classroom and school management that our schools will benefit from.

Shirley Stewart is the most qualified candidate for Rivanna District School Board representative. Show up on Nov. 7 and “vote Stewart for schools.”

Rudy Garcia
Fork Union

Create candidate qualifications chart
I remember a candidate in the 2015 elections creating a simple chart to compare credentials among the candidates. Published in the Fluvanna Review in October of that year, I found that chart much more helpful than trying to plow through hundreds of words about each of the candidates to find out where they stand and why I should vote for them.

Of course, I think it would be even better if an unbiased observer like the Fluvanna Review, rather than the candidates themselves, did the same thing for the Columbia District School Board election. I’d like to know what qualifies each of the candidates for the position – their education, their experience, their connection to the public schools and how they are preparing to become a School Board member.

But I’d also like to be able to compare, side by side, where they stand on issues that are important to the schools. For example, whether they believe our schools have adequate resources to give our kids the best education? Do they think we should be doing something to retain good teachers? Should our tax dollars be going to support non-public schools? What can we do to stop bullying? Should there be teacher- or administrator-led prayer in the schools?

I think this would be particularly important for the Columbia District School Board position – though it would be good for all elective offices – because it seems one of the candidates has been pretty open about her credentials and her views, and one just hasn’t. To make an informed vote, I think we need to know more about both.

Paul Crowther
Palmyra Add a comment

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Stewart is an educational leader dedicated to serving public
As principal of Randolph Elementary School in Vermont and an active School Board member for my children’s school, I feel compelled to send a letter of support for Shirley Stewart who is running for the Rivanna seat on the Fluvanna School Board. As a principal and a Board member, I must be a listener and open to hearing all sides. I must have the ability to create and foster positive relationships and mediate difficult discussions.

I find my knowledge of schools has greatly enhanced my ability to support, advocate and communicate with the community as a Board member.

Ms. Stewart and I were principals together for six years, so I am qualified to speak about her strong leadership skills. I can unequivocally say she possesses the necessary skills to be an effective School Board member. She is a woman of great integrity and puts skills to work for the benefit of students receiving a high quality education. Ms. Stewart knows the importance of relationships, how to be a good listener and problem solver and can bring people together for the common good. She knows how to effectively manage a budget that is responsive to both the school’s and community’s needs. Ms. Stewart has an innate way of looking at an organization and figuring out how to make it more effective and efficient. The leadership skills that made Ms. Stewart an amazing principal will make her an asset to the Fluvanna School Board. Given her vast experience and skills in public education, I can’t imagine a better candidate.

Erica McLaughlin
Mendon, Vt.
2015 Vermont Principal of the Year


Linda Staiger is the more qualified candidate
I am writing to indicate my strong support of Dr. Linda Staiger to represent the people of the Columbia District on our School Board. Linda has a long record of professional experience as an orthopedic surgeon and educator. She is committed to continuing the Fluvanna County Public Schools’ record of solid achievements over many years. Since Dr. Staiger was removed from the November ballot for technical reasons after having her candidacy certified by the registrar, we are mounting a write-in campaign to elect her. I urge you to join us in that effort.
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Pullen response is telling
In the article “Candidate for School Board will not appear on ballot” (Fluvanna Review Sept. 14 issue), Andrew Pullen has shown that rather than campaigning on the issues, he is more interested in using intimidation and shady politics to win a seat on the Fluvanna County School Board.
 The Pullen campaign has continuously and falsely implied that Linda Staiger is not a Columbia District resident (she is), even going so far as to have the state police search her home. Mr. Pullen also used a clerical error involving a newly-introduced form which was missed by both Dr. Staiger and the county registrar. He falsely indicates in an email statement to the Fluvanna Review that Dr. Staiger completely blamed our registrar and expected the law to be overlooked. Dr. Staiger’s response acknowledges that the wrong form was submitted and in no way blames the registrar. Additionally, to state that this error in any way shows “lack of personal accountability and attention to detail” is complete hyperbole. Dr. Staiger accepts the State Board of Elections decision and is running as a write-in candidate.
 Mr. Pullen’s behavior and statements give us some insight as to how he might approach a seat on the School Board:  with micro-management, intimidation, nuance and short-term decisions based strictly on the bottom line with no regard for education in Fluvanna. A vote for Linda Staiger is a vote for someone who is passionate about the long-term preparation, welfare and education of our children. She has the character, vision and skillset necessary to represent the Columbia District on the Fluvanna County School Board. Please write in Staiger on Nov. 7.
 
John Hammond
Columbia

School nurse endorses Stewart for School Board
I endorse Shirley Stewart, candidate for School Board in the Rivanna District. As a former school nurse, I support Ms. Stewart’s approach to ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment for Fluvanna students.
Ms. Stewart, with her decades of working in schools as a teacher and principal, recognizes that student health and wellness rely on quality nutritional programs with healthy choices, regular physical activity, a strong health curriculum, and a clean, safe school environment. Furthermore, and here’s the heart of the matter, while Fluvanna County is fortunate to have a nurse in every school, Ms. Stewart believes that student health goes beyond the nurse’s office. It involves all adults, including teachers, cafeteria workers, coaches, custodians, school bus drivers, and administrative staff, promoting kindness, a lack of bullying, and teaching kids to say “no” when they feel unsafe.
As a member of the School Board, Ms. Stewart will advocate for school health programs and policies, which support a healthy learning environment for all our students, fostering self-confidence and academic success. Vote Shirley Stewart for School Board Nov. 7.

Lou Lamb
Lake Monticello
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Staiger seeks Columbia District School Board seat as write-in
I’m running for the Fluvanna County School Board as a write-in candidate from the Columbia District because I want to become a voice for encouraging children, and for bringing the schools and the community together. As a Fluvanna native, I graduated from Fluvanna High School and live on part of our old family farm in the Columbia voting district. I am a retired orthopedic surgeon and now a professional artist.

In June, I had originally been certified by the Virginia Department of Elections as a candidate for the School Board seat. Later, on Aug. 28, elections officials determined that I had filed the financial disclosure form rather than the statement of economic interest form, a fact they failed to notice when they certified that I had met all conditions to be a candidate in June. Extensions are given to candidates in June when a file is incomplete, but my candidacy file was not flagged as being incomplete. When the matter was brought to my attention Aug. 28, I submitted the correct, and very similar, form within hours. The State Board of Elections did not grant me an appeal on Sept. 8, deciding it was too late in the election cycle. Consequently, I am choosing to run as a write-in candidate.

Despite the bureaucratic setback, I’m determined to go ahead with a write-in campaign because the future of the kids in Fluvanna – as well as the taxpayers – is too important for me to go down without a fight. I’ve spent a lot of years in this county and I want to see it grow and improve; a school is an investment in people and the future of a community, just like fertilizer or a tractor is an investment for a farm. Please look at my website (www.staigerforschools.com) for information about the experience I offer the Fluvanna school system and my Facebook page (StaigerForSchools) to see the work I have been doing to fully understand the issues of the Fluvanna school system and the viewpoints of Columbia citizens.

I respectfully ask for your vote as a write-In candidate for School Board in the Columbia district on Nov. 7.

Linda Staiger
Palmyra

Write in Staiger for School Board
I strongly encourage you to write in Linda Staiger as candidate for School Board from the  Columbia District.  Linda is an educated professional with a long family history in Fluvanna County. Her commitment to excellence is unmatched. She advocates for all the children of the county and does not cater to special interests that seek to drain our schools of needed resources. Linda Staiger is a tireless worker sending out connections to all in our district and county. Linda is indeed an exceptional person and an asset to our county.

A strong, healthy school system is the foundation of a healthy community and nation. Without a good and proper education, our students will languish in poverty and lack of will. As a member of the School Board, Linda Staiger will ensure that needed programs will continue and strengthen. She has assessed the needs of our students. Linda Staiger will advocate for programs that will enhance the future success of our students, whether they continue on to college or proceed into the work force. She will listen to the voices of our district and take into account our concerns. Linda Staiger is a force for reason and integrity.

I hope our residents will put aside politics and affiliations to elect this superb candidate. The School Board is no place for decisions based on partisan politics. Our School Board needs qualified members like Linda Staiger with the education, drive and strength to lead our schools in the pursuit of excellence.

Curtis L. Putnam
Columbia District

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Extraordinary experience
On Nov. 7 Fluvanna residents living in the Rivanna voting district (Lake Monticello Fire Station polling location) will have a choice for School Board. Shirley Stewart is, by far, the most qualified candidate to help guide the Fluvanna school system to even greater excellence. Ms. Stewart has exceptional experience to offer Fluvanna, having been a much-loved teacher and principal in a rural school district in Vermont. Ms. Stewart also raised her three children in the Vermont public schools, strongly believing public schools are the great American equalizer.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Ms. Stewart for the past six years from her participation in the Fluvanna Leadership Development Program (FLDP) and becoming a member of the FLDP Steering Committee. One of Ms. Stewart’s goals for becoming a School Board member is to “attract, support and retain a high quality teaching staff.” Ms. Stewart knows from front line experience the challenges and rewards of being a teacher, as well as understanding the school system support that teachers and school system employees need. She will bring that experience to Fluvanna. She is so highly regarded in the field of education that she is employed part-time at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education to help shape teacher interns in best educational practices.

Be sure to get to know Shirley Stewart’s extraordinary background for being the next Rivanna School Board member by looking at her website: www.stewartforschool.com.
 
Kathleen Swenson Miller
Palmyra


Year-round swim team options exist
I very much enjoy reading the Fluvanna Review. It’s very informative on what’s going on around our community. However, your recent article, Sept. 7 edition, concerning the new pool at the Lake has one part that should be corrected. It was talking about the swim parents being concerned with not having any off-season swimming options with the closing of the Health Nutz pool. There is an option: FAST/BASS is a swim team that offers year-round swimming. FAST in the summer months and BASS during the winter. They practice at the Fork Union Military Academy pool four days a week and they also offer swimming lessons for ages 4 and up. If any are interested in lessons or the team they can contact Danny Johnson at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Marcia Johnson
Lake Monticello

Editor’s note: The reporter was referring to casual, non-committed swimming opportunities.

Staiger has passion for excellence

My friend and neighbor, Dr. Linda Staiger, is passionate about many things; for example, science, art, athletics, and teaching. She developed a love of anatomy which led her to becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Her passion for the outdoors is obvious when you see her paintings. Her passion to help children will make her an outstanding School Board representative for the Columbia District.

From my discussions about education with Linda, I know she wants every student in the Fluvanna County schools to have opportunities to discover what they are passionate about and to obtain skills to start them on the path to fulfilling their personal goals and dreams.

For many months Dr. Staiger has been researching and learning everything regarding the operation of Fluvanna County schools.
She will be passionate about being the very best School Board member for our district. I urge you to check out her Facebook page and website, Staiger for Schools, to learn more about this truly remarkable citizen, and  write-in vote for Linda Staiger.

Lynne B. White
Palmyra


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