Chrya Sanderson

Chrya Sanderson

Chrya Sanderson is running for reelection for Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education Seat B.

Sanderson was born in Texas and raised in Arizona but moved to the Fairbanks North Star Borough in 1973 after her husband was stationed in Alaska. Sanderson has three children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

She has lived in the North Star Borough for 47 years and has worked for FNSB schools for 34 years. Sanderson was hired as a kitchen aid in 1984 and worked a variety of positions including as a classroom aid beginning in 1995.

“I realized this was my love and passion to work for students,” Sanderson said.

Sanderson is currently a teaching assistant for the Alaska Native Education Program at North Pole High School. Previously, she worked as an emotionally impaired teaching assistant and a mentor for at-risk students.

In addition to her professional experience, Sanderson has served on boards of several educational committees. She was president of the Education Support Staff board, on the board of directors for the National Education Association Alaska. Sanderson is currently a member of the Alaska Association of School board and a member of the Career Technical Education task force. In 2014, Sanderson was selected as Education Support Professional of the Year.

Outside of work and official leadership positions, Sanderson volunteers with her church and was board director for the Fairbanks Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program.

She is running for reelection “to finish what I started.” Specifically, Sanderson said she wants to continue working with the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program, so that students are able to pursue multiple pathways after graduation. She wants to continue to build partnerships with local businesses, which will help both students and the local economy.

Another priority for Sanderson is the budget and assuring that funds are moved to promote the “safety and well-being of students and staff.”

Sanderson, who describes herself as “an education advocate” and “creative thinker,” said that she is “looking forward to serving the community and creating opportunities for students.”

Candidate Q&A

1. Are you satisfied with efforts by the school district address diversity equity and inclusion?

Starting with the creation of a task force of community leaders and key administrators, the district has made strides to address concerns of stakeholders. They have invested in diversity trainers for staff, and brought in community leaders committed to the challenge of equity and inclusion. I am satisfied with those efforts while recognizing that there’s still work to be done to get staff the knowledge and tools they need.

2. What are your thoughts on closing a school building to save money? What is a fair process for choosing a school to close?

Closing a school should not be considered before research into the structural integrity of the building and potential for refurbishment have taken place. That cost analysis must be the base of dialogue on the subject. Community members, the district facility maintenance director and key stakeholders should all be at the table for any such discussion.

3. If you were in charge, how would you handle Covid-19 mitigation?

It is critical to keep students in school, for their education, and for our workforce to remain viable; staff and students need to be safe; so that those things may take place, I believe in following local and CDC guidelines. These guidelines and mitigation measures need to be consistently reviewed. As a major employer, we must recognize the need for potential extended leave for our employees for Covid-19 related illnesses.

4. Should smartphones be allowed in school? Why or why not?

It is more realistic to ask how we can manage the overwhelming presence of smart phones to keep them an aid to learning and not a distraction from it. Having the maturity and self-discipline to navigate access to a device without allowing the device to distract from one’s purpose is a life skill. It will take parents and guardians in partnership with educators to get our students to that place.

5. When was the last time you visited a public school and for what purpose?

I am a frequent visitor to schools. I accept any invitation to partner with staff in meeting the needs of students. I enjoy being in the schools! Seeing the hard work of our families and educators manifest in engaged young people keeps me connected to my purpose on this board. They are counting on us to keep their schools running smoothly and safely for all.

6. What makes you qualified to hold this office?

I have spent the past 35 years advocating for Alaska’s students as a professional educator. I have great respect for the work that is being done in this district, and I am humbled to be part of it. I am a passionate advocate for our students and their families, and for the creative teachers who greet them every day and prepare them for the world they will be entering.

Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 907-459-7544 or mthomas@newsminer.com.

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