April 2021 Election - Candidate Profiles

APRIL 2021 SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION
Two seats on the seven person Board of Education will be filled in the Tuesday, April 6 election.  

CANDIDATE PROFILES

Each candidate has been asked to answer the following questions and to provide their personal information.  The District has not edited the candidates’ responses prior to publication. Candidates are listed in order of how they will appear on the ballot.


Jerry Rossi (incumbent)

Why are you seeking election to the Grafton Board of Education?
I’m seeking re-election to the board because I love being part of such a high performing district.  I enjoy working with and supporting the GSD administrative team to help keep the district going in the right direction.
Explain how your personal and professional experiences will make you an effective board member.
I feel I’ve been an effective board member for the past four years because I prepare for meetings, put thought into the agenda items we’re being asked to consider and because I feel my views align well with our administrative team.   I believe myself and our district leadership team care deeply about the education of our communities kids, about their social and emotional well being and want to continue to reach new heights of academic excellence.   I’ve questioned things when needed, spoke up when I agreed and disagreed and I believe I’ve added value during my time on the board.
I also feel that having three children in the district’s schools helps keep me fully invested in the direction the board sets.

What are your personal philosophies that will help you best represent the Grafton electorate?

My overwhelming philosophy is that a position on the board is one of governance, not management.  Superintendent Nelson and his team manage the district, the board helps set direction, represents the community and provides decision making on high level issues.

Personal information

Family:  wife Tracy, daughters Olivia, Sofia and Emilia
Number of years residing in the district:  12 years
Education:  BA Business (finance) from Bethel University, MN
Profession:  VP of Sales for American Century Investments


Shawn Taylor

Why are you seeking election to the Grafton Board of Education?
I believe in community service and have always valued education. Also, my children are in the Grafton schools and I have experience with working in the district’s classrooms. This is a welcome opportunity to use my education and diverse experience to help guide and protect our community’s schools. 

Explain how your personal and professional experiences will make you an effective board member.
My background in the military, work in the federal government, and the trades, as well as college degrees in both business and education are a strong foundation for being a member of the school board. These varied experiences have enhanced my natural temperament to be a good listener, collaborator, and problem solver.

What are your personal philosophies that will help you best represent the Grafton electorate?
Our priority for the Grafton schools is, to the best of our ability, prepare our students for this diverse 21st century world. The board members must be transparent, collaborative, and engage in respectful dialogue. I pride myself, on being a team player who will research the issues before making a final decision. I believe the quality of the teaching staff here is excellent and must be supported while also being good stewards of our taxpayer dollars.

Personal information
Family:  Single parent to three children (17, 16, and 11)
Number of years residing in the district:  12 years
Education: A.A.S. Aircraft Metals Technology; B.S. Business Information Systems; and M.S. Teaching and Learning
Profession: Teacher/Math interventionist


Mary Widmann

Why are you seeking election to the Grafton Board of Education?
I’ve been teaching since I was 18, started at Jubilee Christian Preschool in Franklin (where I grew up) and I worked there full time while putting myself through college. I’ve taught in Muslim, Catholic, public and private, urban and suburban schools. I am a reading specialist because my passion is reading, and I believe teachers make schools great and the partnership with parents makes anything possible. In my current teaching role, I provide reading intervention and work to build strong relationships with families to better help their child find success. In addition to teaching, I have volunteered as a local Girl Scout leader, VBS and acolyte coordinator at St. Joseph Parish.
I am seeking election to share my time and talents by serving as a community representative for the Grafton School board; Grafton has a reputation of having great schools, and I bring the perspective of both proud parent and dedicated teacher. The leadershipteamwork, relationship building, and self-management skills I have learned throughout my teaching career and volunteer work have prepared me for the important job of shaping our community, since the board is responsible for setting the vision and direction of our school system.

Explain how your personal and professional experiences will make you an effective board member.
I have experience as a classroom teacher and specialist so I understand how to make decisions and actions which create a climate that promotes educational excellence.  I will back up my decisions and actions with facts and data.  I will maintain the organizational structure by collaboratively working with the superintendent, school community and other stakeholders to make sure tax dollars are not wasted.  I will be transparent and accountable through fiscal responsibility, hiring and retaining the best teachers and school leaders, and discussing and adopting budgets that meet budgetary guidelines. I will also continue to promote blending personalized learning with innovative opportunities that prepare today’s students for college or future careers.

What are your personal philosophies that will help you best represent the Grafton electorate?
Life, like teaching, is a process of continuing to learn from others and I have learned life is unpredictable and you never know what is coming next, but surround yourself with people who will support your hopes and dreams… four years ago, my husband was diagnosed with leukemia and we spent several years learning to be grateful and live with no regrets.  Faith and family proffered support while friends and neighbors throughout the Grafton community carried us through.  Last summer, someone shared a motivational quote that really spoke to how I was living the past few years: “One run can change your day, many runs can change your life.” This past summer I was challenged to run a 1000k race and after I completed it I joked, “What should I run for next?” and here I am running for school board!  Anyone who knows me will describe me as independent, strong, motivated, determined and committed to making things better.

Personal information
Family:  Mother to 3 honor students: Emma (16, GHS), Ben (14, GHS), and Abby (12, JLMS). Widow/Married to Jarrod (NASA and Navy defense engineer) for 16 years.
Number of years residing in the district: Moved from East Troy (lived there 10 years) to Grafton back in 2013.  I grew up in Franklin, but found historic Grafton beautiful and welcoming, wanting to make it the place of my family's forever home.
Education: BS in Early Childhood Education and Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence (Focus: Reading, English minor), MS in Curriculum and Instruction, Reading Teacher and Reading Specialist licensure, MS in Administrative Leadership (Principal and Director of Instruction licensure)
Profession: District Reading Specialist and Interventionist



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