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My Mom, Sandy Hayes

Guest Blogger, Nicole Hayes, is the oldest child of Sandy Hayes and a 2012 graduate of Inglemoor High School. She originally wrote this as a Facebook post.

My mom is Sandy Hayes, and she’s been on the school board for NSD (Northshore School District) since 2009. Probably you saw her at graduation, which all the school board members attend, and one of them will speak at. You may remember her mostly because she’s the final speaker before you get to throw your cap and leave!

I can talk about “unprecedented times” (her new most hated phrase), but what it boils down to is this: She’s run unopposed three elections in a row. And in those 12 years, NSD has had some major changes. They added another high school! Switched from junior high to middle school! Renovated two schools, built a new elementary school, renovated Pop Keeny, increased graduation rates, increased SAT and ACT scores, expanded access to mental health counseling, and made sure all students had access to 7 period days. Who else was in IB (International Baccalaureate®) and music, and had to fight for that 7th period?

Furthermore, she’s been involved in state lobbying through the WSSDA (Washington State School Directors’ Association) since her first election. I remember a conversation when she was first invited to run for the board: She promised my siblings, my dad, and me that this would be one weeknight a month, maybe a second one. That’s all. Two nights a month. Yeah, that didn’t last long. Anyone who knows Sandy knows that she goes all-in for things she cares about, and there’s nothing she cares about more than quality education. I think she’s now spending the equivalent of 15 hours a week on district related work, whether for the school board or state lobbying. And it’s all unpaid! No one can say she’s not committed.

All of this is to say: The reason her last two elections were unopposed is it was transparently obvious that no one could bring more to Northshore School District than Sandy Hayes.

So what changed?

Well, as you may know, we’ve been in a pandemic 😛

What you may not know is that Northshore was one of the first districts IN THE NATION to stop in person schooling and switch to online. (It may even be THE first! It’s a little hard to tell.) This happened in the first week of March. Shortly before that, my parents came to visit me in Florida (I am no longer in Florida, but 2020 was an interesting year on so many levels). I was a first-hand witness to her growing horror and frustration as it became clear that…

  1. …COVID-19 was not a minor outbreak
  2. …something was going to have to happen to protect people and
  3. …neither the federal nor state governments were ready to step up to protect children in particular.

I’m so incredibly proud that my mom, elected with the charge of educating children, said, before anyone else in the country, that we can’t educate children if they’re dead. We can’t educate children who are mourning their parents or grandparents or guardians. We can’t educate children if their teachers are dying. That the first step to “educating our kids”? Is to take care of them physically and mentally.

Since March 2020, while Northshore students have gotten a multiple week head start on every other district, Sandy Hayes has, either as a school board member, as a lobbyist, or as her own person:

  • Made sure that every student has a computer at home, whether that’s their own, their parents’, or provided by the district.
  • Made sure that every student has internet access at home, again either through their parents or through a free, district-provided hotspot.
  • Talked nearly ceaselessly with other board members, the superintendent, school principals, members of staff, the Northshore Schools Foundation, NSD-related volunteer groups, the teachers’ union, and state elected officials to keep the emphasis for the 2020-2021 school year where it needed to be: Keeping children safe AND able to learn.
  • Organized (with help from other parents and librarians!) a book drive which provided more than TWENTY THOUSAND free books to students during a year when libraries were closed. The number of books in the home is one of the primary predictors of a child’s educational success.
  • Supported a meals program which provided breakfast and lunch to all children 18 and under, whether or not they were NSD students (at first this program was 5 days a week, then it expanded to 7 days a week).
  • Continued working with English Language Learning students, especially with those on the verge of graduation, to make sure that they can get their high school diploma despite incredible odds
  • Accidentally became the state leader of a push for right-to-repair, particularly (but not exclusively) for school technology. And then was interviewed in Bloomberg!

So why, WHY does she now have two opponents? Because she has consistently taken the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. Because she has reliably put the safety and welfare of children above political grandstanding. Because she has tirelessly worked to support student learning at home, going above and beyond to provide resources especially to those marginalized in our society–students of color, students who don’t have legal US residency, disabled students, and students living in poverty.

Some people find this sort of behavior unnerving. She’s a firm believer in restorative justice, doing advocacy work with a local group since 2016. She volunteers hours upon hours of her time (did I mention school board directors don’t get paid?) to improve the lives of the voiceless. For people indoctrinated in a belief system where you only get what you can TAKE, every man for himself–that’s scary. To have someone so endlessly work to help those who will never, ever be able to give her anything material, to consistently give without receiving anything in return but a warm feeling–that’s strange! Of course they’re threatened by her and are running against her. The terrifying level of misinformation aimed at the severity of COVID-19 is just one more factor.

This is the first time my mom has run in a contested election. It’s the first time she’s done any fundraising at all (last election, someone tried to donate money to her and she had to tell them she didn’t have anything to spend it on!). It’s the first time she’s had a website! And honestly: She doesn’t like the spotlight. When she reads this post, she’s going to be horribly embarrassed.

But what was true in 2013 and 2017 (and 2009) is true today: Sandy Hayes is the best candidate for Northshore School Board, District 4.

Please, if you live in NSD or know someone who does: Vote for Sandy Hayes for School Board in both the primary (August 3rd) and general (November 2nd). And if you don’t live in NSD? There are school district members nationwide who are working just like my mom is, to improve the lives of children. Read their statements. Ask them questions. And vote.