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Sandra Young’s career as a teacher has taken her around the world, from a three-room schoolhouse in Oregon to a U.S. Department of Defense classroom for military children in Germany.
Even though she is retired, Young does not intend to step away from education just yet. In her bid for the Berkeley seat on the Williamsburg-James City County School Board, Young said she would bring common-sense approach and a commitment to protecting American freedoms to the dais.
Young, 71, moved to the Berkeley District after retiring from teaching in 2012. She said she decided to run for the School Board because she was “very concerned” about what is happening in the school division.
“The more I talk to parents and students, the more impressed I am that we’re doing something wrong with the constant testing,” Young said. “It’s removing every bit of joy that should come from learning and that’s not right. It should be fun for the teachers, it should be fun for students and parents should feel like they’re getting their money’s worth from the school system.”
To counteract the negative effects of standardized testing, Young proposed teaching the Standards of Learning around themes interesting to children. She recalled teaching one girl who was so excited about a domestic and big cat theme that she helped plan the lessons, offering to “do the spelling” and finding library books on the subject.
“You could cover all the standards every year by having interesting themes,” Young said. “The kids were excited. There should be that passion and excitement.”
If elected, Young said she would take a hard look at the budget, particularly expenses for the fourth middle school, and re-evaluate school schedules to make better use of empty classrooms.
The Berkeley seat is being vacated by incumbent Ruth Larson, who is running for the James City County Board of Supervisors. Young will face opponent John “Rio” Riofrio in the general election.
As a leader, Young said she is a listener who likes to collaborate and gather people with good ideas and “get better ideas.”
She said schools need to instill pride in the U.S. and should protect American freedoms that students can exercise, such as free speech. Young noted the WJCC harassment policy and the importance of using language in the text of that policy that does not discriminate or shut down free speech.
“Schools are in the business of protecting children,” Young said. “A lot of the policies we’re developing are punishing individuals for things they didn’t even know they were being punished for.”
After a four-year term, Young said she hopes to bring a common sense attitude toward the challenges of students and teachers and ensure they can exercise their freedoms in the classroom.