Falmouth teen brings student perspective to state Board of Education

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FALMOUTH — Liberty Ladd hopes to give her generation a voice in the creation and implementation of statewide education policy.

Ladd, a 15-year-old sophomore at Falmouth High School, was recently selected as the student representative from the 1st Congressional District on the state Board of Education. She will attend her first meeting June 14.

“Education is the driving force behind our state’s success,” Ladd said in an email about why she sought one of two student spots on the board. The 2nd District is represented by a student from Jackman.

“Without adequate learning environments, the students in Maine would not have the capability to reach their full potential,” she said. “In order to ensure students are prepared to become prosperous members of society after their years in school, the voice of the students must be taken into account.”

Ladd was selected to serve after completing an application, which included her academic record, letters of recommendation and an essay. She was then one of six students who went through an initial round of interviews.

That field was narrowed to three, who were recommended to Gov. Paul LePage. He nominated Ladd, who then had to go through a public confirmation hearing in the Legislature’s Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

“I believe I have the capability to convey the feelings and concerns of students on issues which affect their future,” Ladd said. “(My role is to) take feedback from the student level and voice their perspective on the issues to the voting members of the board.”

The two student representatives to the state board do not vote, but they “bring a wealth of information and insight to (our) work,” Martha Harris, the board chairwoman, said.

“Our students have been fantastic,” Harris added. “They are enthusiastic and very involved with our work … and (their) questions and comments are very insightful.”

The Maine State Board of Education, which includes nine members, advises the commissioner of education “in matters concerning state education laws and makes education policy recommendations to the legislative and executive branches,” according to the board’s website.

The board is an independent body and its mission “is to provide policy leadership that promotes a public school system whose graduates will meet current and future learning standards.”

Although Ladd has yet to attend a meeting of the board, “from the members I have met so far,” she said, “I can tell the board is filled with intelligent, diverse and capable individuals who bring a variety of different perspectives to the important and constantly evolving conversation of improving education.”

Ladd is the daughter of Bart and Christina Ladd. Her father is a pilot and former Georgia legislator who ran unsuccessfully for the Maine State Senate last year as a Republican in District 25; her mother has worked as a media director and now manages the family’s rental home business. She also has a younger sister, Lucy.

At Falmouth High School, Ladd plays varsity field hockey and softball. She’s also a member of the Women’s Rights Advocacy Club, the Civics Club, the Debate Team and the Improv Club. In addition, she coaches local youth teams.

Ladd said she is not sure what her future holds, although she is considering a career in education.

But, she said, “Whatever I decide to study or to pursue as a career, I do plan to use my knowledge in a way that educates those around me. As a student I thrive on information in all forms. The more information (we have) helps us build up a general knowledge about the world and, because of this, education in all its forms is valuable.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Liberty Ladd, 15, of Falmouth, will be one of two student representatives on the Maine State Board of Education.