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School Committee Candidates: Tonya Pickering

On November 2, Sanford and Springvale voters will elect one School Committee member to a three-year term. The candidates are Jennifer Davie and Tonya Pickering. Incumbent Don Jamison is not seeking reelection.

Tonya Pickering was born and raised in Sanford and attended Sanford schools. Her work experience includes several years in the food service industry, and she has also worked as a pharmacy technician. Currently she is employed as an office administrator for a local nonprofit organization.

She has been extensively involved in youth activities, including serving on the Board of Sanford-Springvale Little League. She has also volunteered with Spartan Youth Wrestling and with Sanford -Springvale Youth Athletic Association’s football program. She has been a member of the Sanford Middle School PTA since its inception three years ago. She is the mom of a 4th grader at Pride Elementary and an 8th grader at Sanford Middle School.

Ms. Pickering said she made the decision to enter the race for School Committee after seeing her children regress socially, emotionally and academically in the last school year. After hearing similar stories from other parents, she decided to become part of the solution. “By running for School Committee, it gives me more of an opportunity to hear what is needed and do what I can to help. There seems to be so much division right now…my goal is to bring everybody back together for our kids.”

Ms. Pickering feels that being a versatile person, who can adapt to many different situations and give each one of them her focus and attention, is a strength she can bring to the School Committee. She describes herself as a great listener: “I truly want to hear what people around me are feeling and going through, and want our community to know they are being heard.”

She feels that this year in particular, it is important to focus on children who have fallen behind due to remote learning and who need extra support. She says that kids should not only be learning their core subjects in school, but how to emotionally cope with the continuing changes in day-to-day life. She will advocate to continue the emphasis on social/emotional learning throughout the year.

Her specific area of focus as a School Committee member would be to advocate for all children regardless of their circumstances, whether they excel or are feeling left behind. “I want parents to know I am here to back every one of them.” She is a big believer in options for youth sports, as well as clubs and other extracurricular activities.

Prior to the School Committee’s vote to approve the mask mandate in August, Ms. Pickering sent an email to the School administration in August asking for parental choice on the issue. She now says “I would ultimately like to be able to decide for my children, but for now we are just grateful for them to be coming home five days a week with smiles and positive experiences.” Her particular concern with regard to the mandate, is the lack of an “exit strategy,” or how a decision will be made to reduce or eliminate masking in the schools. “Having a little more data on that would definitely bring many families some peace of mind,” she adds.

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