Citizens elected four new members to the East Lansing Public Schools Board of Education Tuesday.
Tali Faris-Hylen, Kath Edsall, Terah Chambers, and Amanda Cormier received the highest percentages of votes out of the 10 school board candidates. Their terms will begin in January.
All four new board members are mothers of children who are or will be students at ELPS, and have been involved in public education in various ways over recent years.
Edsall, one of two incumbents, has served on the board for eight years. She became active in the district when the oldest of her eight children started school in 1996, and said that the inequities she noticed within the system were a motivating factor to run for the board.
“When it became clear to me that we weren’t serving our marginalized students, I felt I had to get more involved,” Edsall said. “During my tenure we have worked to address racial inequities and add more support for these children.”
Second incumbent Terah Chambers, who works as a professor in Michigan State University’s College of Education, said that she was also driven by a desire to make sure students of all backgrounds and identities were being adequately represented and advocated for by the district’s administration.
“I've been serving on the school board for the last five years,” Chambers said. “Part of the motivation to continue is wanting to support our students, teachers, and administrators in the important work that we have been engaged in to support all students, but particularly those from minoritized identities. In addition, I'm Black and believe strongly in the need for school board members who reflect the demographics of their school district community.”
Faris-Hylen, a communications professional, has been involved with parent-community councils in East Lansing schools for over a decade. She said running for school board felt like a natural next step in her service in public education.
“I never want to take for granted the strides East Lansing has made to become an inclusive district,” Faris-Hylen said. “Our educational system is the backbone of our democracy and we have to continue to advocate for more support at every level.”
Cormier, a former special education teacher and Larry Nassar survivor, decided to run for the school board when she noticed how politicized boards across the country had become – often without the input of teachers.
“I wanted to be a voice as a former educator who has been in the classroom for students and teachers who often are left out of those conversations,” Cormier said. “I know firsthand what it looks like when a board puts its own self-interests before the needs of the community.”
All four new board members expressed gratitude to voters and the community after Election Day.
"I'm thankful to this community for continuing to believe in the work we have been doing to make sure every child receives an excellent, equitable, socially just education as well as the supports they might need to access that education," Edsall said in an email.
Chambers thanked voters in a campaign Facebook post Wednesday.
"We showed how powerful we can be when we stand up for what is right," she said.
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Cormier said that she felt humbled and excited to be selected by voters to serve East Lansing Public Schools.
"I'm excited to use my experience as an educator to advocate for the students and teachers of East Lansing," Cormier said. "I know this board will achieve great things for this district."
Faris-Hylen said in an email that she was especially energized by the strong turnout of young people at the polls, particularly MSU students.
“We owe a lot to MSU students for being active and engaged citizens that care about everything on the ballot from our voting rights, to a woman’s right to body autonomy, to local school board elections,” Faris-Hylen said in an email. “Public education is the backbone of our democracy and MSU students understand that and came out in droves to exercise their right to vote and make a difference.”
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