Eight Candidates Vie for Open Board of Education Seat

Friday, October 27, 2017, 3:03 pm
Karessa Wheeler

Above: L-R Top row. Terah Chambers, Jamie White, Debbie Walton, Todd Swales; L-R Bottom. Stephanie Grimes, Rufus Jackson, Chris Martin, Andrew Brisbo

Following Monday’s departure of Trustee Yasmina Bouraoui, eight East Lansing residents have submitted applications to complete the last year of her term on the East Lansing Board of Education.

Board members will interview the candidates and make a decision following their regularly scheduled meeting on November 13.

The candidates are:

  • Andrew Brisbo, parent of two children currently attending Donley Elementary. In his letter of interest, Brisbo said his older daughter has special needs so he has a great interest in special education and social services within the District. He has spent 13 years working in state government.
  • Stephanie Grimes, an administrative assistant who graduated from Career Quest Learning Center in Lansing in 2015. She has worked at Bruegger’s Bagels and Taco Bell, and says she “is a product of” the East Lansing School District and “truly cares about education, teachers who work extremely hard and have our kids best interest in their hearts need a voice on our Board."
  • Rufus Jackson has been both a student and a parent in the District, with two children in MacDonald Middle School and one who graduated from East Lansing High School in 2017. He has served as a football coach since 2009.
  • Christopher Martin, former elementary school teacher who is now an assistant prosecuting attorney. He said he would “support and amplify the efforts of teachers who work to be difference makers.”
  • Todd Swales has a student in kindergarten at Pinecrest Elementary and has professional experience in the automotive and service arenas. He cited his strong organizational and financial skills in his letter of interest.
  • Terah Venzant Chambers is an Associate Professor of K-12 Educational Leadership in the College of Education at Michigan State University. She is a member of the ELPS District Bond Work Group and has a first grader at Glencairn Elementary. She regularly attends Board meetings, served on the Community Bond Committee, participated on a school board panel on opportunity gaps and worked on the Yes for Excellent Schools bond campaign. Her research is in traditionally underserved student population and she says she wants to help schools “support academic achievement and school engagement for all students but particularly for students of color.”
  • Deborah Walton, currently President of the MacDonald Middle School Parent Council, has been an active volunteer with Donley, Whitehills and MacDonald Middle School. She has organized science nights and math festivals and served as a Girl Scout Leader. She has also served as President and Vice President of Donley School Association, Donley representative on the District Parent Council, Vice President of the MacDonald Parent Council, and Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Enhanced Academic Achievement for the DPC. She worked as an aeronautical and astronautical engineer at NASA Ames Research Center, which makes her “well-suited to analyzing the data regarding our district and making impartial data-driven decisions to benefit our entire community.”
  • James White has been a lawyer for 18 years and previously worked for the Ingham County Health Department Adolescent Division, traveling to numerous schools presenting health education curriculum. He has three children currently enrolled in East Lansing School District, who attended Haslett schools last year. He has been a youth coach for numerous sports and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Ingham County Bar Foundation.

Bouraoui was elected to the board in November 2014. Her term is set to expire Dec. 31, 2018.