Amber Withycombe, a parent of two Maplewood Richmond Heights students, and Director of Institutional Giving for the Saint Louis Art Museum, has announced she is running for the MRH Board of Education. She provided this statement about her candidacy for the Board of Education.
Richmond Heights resident Rachel Goltzman is also running, and incumbent Ralph Posey has also filed.
Amber Withycombe’s statement:
I am excited to announce my candidacy for the Maplewood Richmond Heights Board of Education in the April 6 election.
Our school district plays a central role in the vitality, stability, and diversity of our community. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened economic and racial inequality, brought new urgency to expanding educational equity, and revealed the extent to which our families depend on MRH and each other. It has also compelled us to seek a new level of leadership and direction from our Board of Education. I have profound respect for the commitment that our board has shown throughout this crisis, and my decision to run is rooted in a desire to support the important work they have undertaken and continue to advance.
Like many of you, I have been motivated by the upheavals of the pandemic to devote increased energy to civic participation. I have become an active member in MapleGOOD, co-managing the Hygiene Heroes mini-pantry, contributing to the MRH Student and Family Support Project, and participating in a community working group for the unhoused.
Driven by a desire to maintain affordable housing and support more inclusive development policies, I recently sought appointment to the Maplewood Planning and Zoning Commission. In June, I collaborated with community and business leaders to organize the Maplewood Families March for Black Lives. These experiences have allowed me to see the immediate and catalyzing impacts that civic engagement can have on improving circumstances for our neighbors and our families.
Through this work, and in my conversations and collaborations with families, neighbors, educators, administrators, community leaders, and elected officials, I have identified four key areas that I will prioritize as a member of the board:
Equity: Our district’s commitment to educational equity must remain at the forefront of everything we do. The pandemic has widened existing social and educational disparities. As we endeavor to safely return students and educators to the classroom, we must center the district’s ongoing work in diversity, equity, and social justice to inform our recovery framework. We also must ensure equitable accommodations for those who are unable to return in person until a vaccine is widely available.
Recovery: Safe re-entry for students and staff is just the beginning. The disconnection and trauma brought on by the pandemic will require continued flexibility, creativity, and perseverance from all district stakeholders. We will need to leverage the forced innovations of the past year to close opportunity gaps, enhance wrap-around services and instructional supports, and repurpose new investments in technology to advance student success.
Transition: With the upcoming selection of a new district superintendent, we are poised to enter a period of transition and discovery. The board will take an active role in helping to lead and manage this change, which will eventually influence all aspects of district operations.
Growth: MRH is a model for educational excellence among our region’s school districts. Enrollment will continue to grow, and with it the need to develop new planning tools, including a renewed five-year comprehensive school improvement plan.
I will approach these efforts with accountability and transparency, and with a focus on communication and collaboration. I have more than 20 years of professional experience in higher education, workforce development, and the arts. I have worked for public university systems in five states, closely managing institutional budgets through economic hardship, and I have a keen appreciation for the impact of strong public governance.
Currently, I serve as Director of Institutional Giving for the Saint Louis Art Museum, where I develop and manage corporate, foundation, and government partnerships. I live in Maplewood with my husband, Joshua Kryah, and our two children: Eavan, an eighth-grader at MRHMS, and Ansel, a sixth-grader at MRHE.
I look forward to serving our district and its families, and I welcome your questions and comments at AmberForMRH@gmail.com or 314-669-5240. Follow @AmberForMRH on Facebook to learn more about my campaign.