Erica Brockmyer, a 2003 Schenectady High School graduate and former program director with the Schenectady Boys & Girls Club, is seeking a seat on the Schenectady school board in May.
Brockmyer, who now works as a school counselor at the private Emma Willard School in Troy, previously worked nearly nine years at Boys & Girls Club centers in Schenectady. While working at the Mont Pleasant clubhouse, Brockmyer helped implement programs focused on bolstering the social, emotional and mental health of the city’s youth. She also worked as a substitute teacher in Schenectady schools, filling in in classrooms across buildings and grade levels.
She said running for public office has been “an inkling in the back of my mind” in recent years and that her passions and interests ultimately lead her to the school board. She said she could no longer complain about problems without getting involved to fix them.
“I really have a passion for education and the experience the kids in Schenectady are getting in school,” Brockmyer said in an interview last week.
Two Schenectady school board seats are up for election in May, and the newly-elected members will join the board in July at a critical juncture as the district grapples with the long-term impacts of the pandemic, potentially transitions to a new superintendent and maps out how to utilize tens of millions of dollars in forthcoming federal aid.
Current board President John Foley last week said he does not plan to seek reelection, and Andy Chestnut, the other board incumbent whose seat goes up for a vote this spring, said he was undecided on running for another term. Samuel Rose, a 2006 Schenectady High School graduate who ran for school board last year, has announced a bid for the school board on May’s ballot.
As a Schenectady student, Brockmyer worked on the school newspaper and played basketball, which she continued in college. She cited a recent Capital Region BOCES study of the district focused on staff concerns and organization, which found a culture of fear and mistrust in the district, and said she would be interested to see the results of a similar study of students’ attitudes,
“If we were to do that same assessment with kids, what response would you get back from them?” Brockmyer said. “We need more input from the kids.”
Brockmyer said “accessibility” was core to an effective school board and said district leaders and board members should be creative in finding ways to connect to and engage with parents and community members. She also called for more specific probing of district officials at board meetings and said board members should ask for specific timelines when requesting follow-up information from district officials.
When asked about working at a pricey private school, Brockmyer, who lives in Schenectady with her husband, mother and two dogs, said she wanted to broaden her experience in education and that her work at Emma Willard would inform her role on the school board.
“It’s part of my journey,” Brockmyer said. “I’ve been working in the community for so long with the youth of Schenectady, I wanted to broaden my perspective in a way of understanding how things can work better.”
Prospective candidates for the school board must collect 50 nominating signatures and submit paperwork to the district clerk by April 28. The election is scheduled for May 18.