Educator seeks open Brunswick school board seat

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BRUNSWICK — The School Board will be losing a longtime member after this November’s election and gaining a member with a background in education.

In District 4, newcomer Celina Harrison is running to fill the seat being vacated by Corrinne Perrault, who is ending her tenure on the School Board after 18 years.

Each of the races for the board’s At-Large, District 3 and District 4 seats are uncontested. Chair Joy Prescott is running unopposed for her At-Large seat, and District 3 Board member Teresa Kelly-Gillis is also the only candidate running for her seat.

Harrison, who is making her first run for public office, said she chose the School Board because she has a fifth-grader and a third-grader in Brunswick schools, and she wants to be “actively involved in their school community.”

Harrison is an adjunct lecturer of engineering at the University of Southern Maine’s Gorham campus, which she also said makes her “sort of like the customer of what comes out of schools in Maine.”

“I get a lot of students who have recently graduated, so I see firsthand, I think, what might be lacking when students come out with a high school diploma,” she said. “So for me, I have a unique perspective that I would like to focus on achievement, academics (and) making sure students are ready if they choose to do the college route.”

She said she thinks “there should be no shame in doing a vocation,” and she would like to promote it for students who feel they should take that route.

Though joining the School Board will be her first elected board position, Harrison also serves on the board of Arts Are Elementary, a Brunswick nonprofit aimed at bringing visiting artists to local K-5 classrooms.

She said she has talked to her predecessor, Perrault, who will be leaving the board after nearly two decades this year about the responsibilities of the role.

And, Harrison added though being unopposed for the District 4 seat makes running a “little bit easier” for her, it would be “wonderful” if there were others “jockeying for the same spot.”

“The best candidate hopefully would win, and that would probably, maybe, be more meaningful,” she said. “And it would be great for the town if you had that many people that cared and wanted to be involved.”

Ultimately, coming from a family of teachers, she said making sure educators feel supported by the School Board is important to her.

“I hope the teachers feel that we are supportive of what they do because … it’s such a hard job these days,” she said. “They just do so much that I feel like they need to feel supported as much as possible.”

Prescott is seeking her third term on the School Board after being elected in 2012, and Kelly-Gillis is seeking her second term.

Both incumbents said they are looking forward to serving on the board again.

Prescott also said the board has “certainly faced constraints” related to the budget this year and in years past, which are “likely to continue both at the state and federal level.”

Because of that, she said, working with stakeholders such as the Town Council and the public to bring awareness to both the needs of the schools and the “positive benefits” they bring to Brunswick is important.

Kelly-Gillis said last month she has enjoyed working with a  board that is “kind and respectful to one another” even when members’ views differ.

“I look forward to continuing the great work we are doing for all the children of Brunswick,” she said.

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

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