Letter: Support for Sherri VandenAkker

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I would like to express my support for Sherri VandenAkker to continue her seat on School Committee. Sherri was appointed in December of 2017 after Gary Nihan needed to step down for health reasons. Mr. Nihan, thank you for your service to the students of Reading.

As a resident who has watched almost every School Committee meeting since Sherri was appointed, I can say that I have seen qualities in her that I want to see on that committee going forward. She is thoughtful, inquisitive, and intelligent. She cares deeply about the Reading Public Schools. A few years ago, Sherri developed an RCTV program called ”RPS Today” so residents could be better informed about what was happening within our schools. This is a connection that is difficult for those who no longer have students in the schools, and one that I feel is so important. Our schools are an enormous asset and one that our residents should be proud of. This can happen if they are exposed to the many ways that our schools enrich our community. Sherri identified a disconnect and figured out a way to bridge that gap by developing this informative program. Her creative approach to problem-solving (as demonstrated with “RPS Today”) will no doubt allow her to help the School Committee handle future challenges.

I am a former teacher and current parent of students in the Reading Public Schools, which provides somewhat of a unique perspective when considering this vote. Sherri’s background in education is invaluable as the committee discusses curriculum and the research that drives important decisions around it. She has spent 25 years in the field of education and that is apparent. I have watched multiple meetings where Sherri has made a comment or asked a question and I can tell that she really gets it. That is what I go back to when I hear mention of the need for change. Change is good but above all, I feel that we need expertise and experience to drive our district and our students forward. Sherri is, in fact, new to School Committee and because of that she brings a fresh perspective, yet she appeared almost immediately comfortable in her role. This was impressive and exciting to observe. A background as an educator is not a prerequisite for the committee, but it is most certainly an asset and I would venture to guess, enabled her to take on this role with ease.

I hope that you will watch the Candidate Forum on RCTV either on cable or YouTube to see what I am talking about. I think you’ll be impressed. Please consider Sherri VandenAkker for School Committee on April 3rd!


Julie Ross
Kensington Avenue

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