As the school gets ready to begin a major construction project, the governing board of the Woodside Elementary School District on May 12 chose school parent Silvia Edwards, who has a background in construction and a history of civic involvement, to fill the remaining months of retiring board member Rudy Driscoll's term.
Board members said they had a difficult decision to make with seven strong candidates for the position.
Mr. Driscoll announced in April that he would be resigning before his term ends to allow his successor to be in place at the beginning of the school year rather than midway through. In order to serve past December, Ms. Edwards must be elected in November.
Ms. Edwards, who has lived in Woodside for 10 years, has three young children who will be in kindergarten and second grade next year. She said in her application that she moved to Woodside "because we wanted to send our children to Woodside Elementary School."
She is a member of the town's Circulation Committee, which works to balance the needs of automobiles, pedestrians, cyclists and horses in Woodside.
Ms. Edwards has a bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Virginia. But what board members seemed to value the most in her resume was her experience in construction. After law school, she said in her application, she spent several years managing residential home building projects. She and her husband also built their home in Woodside.
Board president Wendy Warren Roth said that Ms. Edwards is "the one candidate who comes to us that has some actual direct building experience." She said she appreciated Ms. Edwards work with the town on safe routes to schools. "She understands her role would be acting on behalf of the entire community and that's a hard thing to do at times," Ms. Warren Roth said.
Board member Kevin Johnson said he also appreciated Ms. Edwards "background with building and facilities."
Board member Claire Pollioni said she appreciated Ms. Edwards for something completely different: When Ms. Edwards was asked what she is proud of at the school "one of the first things you said is the children," Ms. Pollioni said. "I really appreciated your child-first demeanor."
Other candidates were Nancy Hollister, Julie Levenson, Joel Hornstein, Susan Doherty and a husband and wife who both applied, Jack and Terry Sculley.
All the candidates are parents of students at the school. Among their credentials were MBAs, a master's in education, several law degrees, memberships on other boards, and backgrounds in science, technology, finance and communication.
Before nominating Ms. Edwards, who was unanimously approved by the board, Mr. Driscoll praised all the candidates. "I think that Woodside would be lucky to have any one of the candidates," he said. "Each candidate could not say enough positive things about the students, teachers and staff." Mr. Driscoll said all of the applicants wanted to give back to the community and were proud of the school. All, he said, mentioned "how inclusive and welcoming the school is to their families."
After the meeting Ms. Edwards said she felt "honored" for the appointment "particularly because the field of candidates was so exceptional."
Although each candidate had different experience and qualifications, she said, "I believe that each of us has the same goal -- continuing Woodside Elementary School's tradition of excellence."