Letters to the Editor

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Dear Editor:

Greetings! Early voting began this week for the May 2021 elections in Texas. Many different city and school bonds and political races are being reported on the television each morning, and each makes me focus on what we as Stephenville, Texas citizens are facing in our own local election. I often hear people say, “Why vote?” “My vote won’t count for anything anyway.” “What difference can my vote make?” It is no wonder then that, when reviewing the voter data on https://www.co.erath.tx.us/187/Historical-Information, I noticed voter turnout is very low for city propositions, city council members, and school board trustees, unless being held concurrently with a Presidential Election. In fact, in the May 4, 2019 election, the voter turnout for ALL Erath Country Registered Voters was only 9.42% for a total of 1,647 ballots being cast. In contrast, during the November 3, 2020 election, the voter turnout was 70.35% of registered voters for a total of 16,930 ballots being cast. Because the early voting that began this week for the May 2021 elections is not during a Presidential Election it can be assumed, based on past data, that voter turnout will unfortunately be low once again. In Stephenville, Texas, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to vote for the future of our town and our school district…all of which represent the future of the children of Stephenville, Texas.

As a former student of the Stephenville Independent School District (SISD), I was fortunate to have received an excellent education from amazing teachers that were supported by the Administration and SISD School Board. After living in various towns and cities, my husband and I decided to move back to Stephenville, Texas to raise our son. As our son has grown and advanced through many of the SISD schools, we are very thankful that we made the decision to move back to our wonderful, little town. I believe SISD has offered a wonderful education for the children and has employed teachers who are passionate about teaching.

I am also a firm believer in challenging the status quo and to not simply accept the “norms” in education. In today’s society, the concept of “teaching the test” does not help our children nor our teachers. The school system receiving high marks or proficiency does not prepare our children for the real world because there is no bubble to fill in with a Number 2 Pencil at the checkout counter. Not everyone is the same, and every student learns differently and has different paths forward. It is time to start listening to our teachers and our children, especially in the Stephenville School District. This is why I am supporting and voting for Dr. Sonia Sandford for Stephenville Independent School Board of Trustees, Place 3, and encourage you to do the same.

There is a lot of talk as to what role a trustee on the school board can play in impacting student success. For me, I want someone in that role that has valued experience, who has walked the walk of a teacher, coach, administrator, and professor of education. Dr. Sonia Sandford’s experience demonstrates her passion for quality education and commitment to ALL students, regardless of their interests, career path, or economic status.

Dr. Sonia Sandford has spent her career as the go-to resource for developing and implementing excellence in the classroom despite the many challenges state and federal entities have imposed upon on our teachers. Not only does she know what works and what doesn’t, Dr. Sonia Sandford knows how to create opportunities for EVERY child!

Most importantly, Dr. Sonia Sandford knows how to put students FIRST. The students are the ones most affected in the educational system, but their voices are usually the least valued if they are heard at all. Typically, the decisions of what is “right” or “the best action” for a student is determined by an adult that does not have any educational experience. It’s like taking parenting advice from someone who does not have kids of their own. For my family and me, that is ultimately the most important attribute in a school board trustee…putting the students FIRST!

Dr. Sonia Sandford is not new to the SISD. She and her husband, Jeff, have raised two children through the SISD and currently have one son still attending SISD as a sophomore at Stephenville High School. Dr. Sonia Sandford has also been a two-time “Educator of the Year” and “Erath County Woman of the Year.” Those honors are not awarded to individuals who simply watch and do nothing or what is deemed “easiest.” Those honors are awarded to individuals who rise up and do what is right! Dr. Sonia Sandford cares deeply about SISD and has visited the SISD schools. She has talked with students, teachers, staff, and the community that encompasses SISD. Again, Dr. Sonia Sandford has shown she is passionate about finding out the issues, listening to concerns and feedback, and is ready to march forward in paving a way for EVERY student and to elevate SISD to be the best possible district it can be!

Dr. Sandford’s Facebook Page, Dr. Sonia Sandford for School Board, says it best: “Dr. Sandford is a believer in education, but also in giving back to the educational process. While she personally found success in the classroom, she knows first-hand how important different pathways in education are for different types of learners with diverse interest and skills. Whether students are college bound, entering the workforce, considering military service, or are planning trade or technical careers, public schools can and should offer meaningful experiences and lay the foundation for future success!”

Dr. Sonia Sandford’s experience as a former public-school teacher, coach, administrator, former university professor, leader in working with the special needs population, and supporter of meaningful extracurricular activities, gives her the advanced knowledge with working with students, teachers, staff, administration, and the community. I want someone who has conquered adversity when faced with challenges, and Dr. Sonia Sandford has faced tough issues and obstacles before. We know how hard COVID-19 impacted the education system since March 2020, but we do not know what issues or obstacles will be knocking at our schools’ doors next. However, I am confident that whatever they may be, I definitely want Dr. Sonia Sandford there to answer that door!

If you don’t believe your vote will make a difference in our schools and our community, please think again. Who do you want to stand up for our children – our students? Do you want someone who has the experience and has faced the challenges in the educational system as a teacher, coach, administrator, professor, and a mother? Do you want your students’ – your children’s – voices to be heard? Then, join me and let’s elect Dr. Sonia Sandford to Place 3 on the SISD School Board! Make your vote count because I know you will want her to be answering that door when the next issues or obstacles come knocking!!! Vote Dr. Sonia Sandford for Stephenville Independent School Board of Trustees, Place 3!!!

Thank you for your time! God Bless!

Sincerely,
Micah (Lesley) Russell

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