BRATTLEBORO — Matthew Schibley has been appointed to the Windham Southeast School District School Board by unanimous vote to fill a vacant seat until the March election.
Schibley was one of seven candidates for the seat left open when former board member Lana Dever resigned in June, citing her need to focus on her family.
The executive director at The NEARI School in Easthampton, Massachusetts, Schibley started that position in August. The NEARI School - officially, the New England Adolescent Research Institute - is a 12-month day school for learning-disabled, emotionally disturbed, neurologically challenged students ages 7-22.
Schibley holds a master's degree in counseling psychology from Antioch University. He is a licensed clinical mental health counselor in Vermont.
He previously served as director of residential life and interim dean of students at The Greenwood School in Putney. Most recently, for six years, he supervised an outpatient mental health clinic and school-based program with Health Care & Rehabilitation Services (HCRS) in southeastern Vermont.
Schibley lives in Brattleboro with his wife and their two sons.
"We're grateful they attend Green Street School," he said. "When I heard of the board vacancy, I felt compelled to throw my hat in the ring because I care about Brattleboro and the students in Brattleboro. I care about our educational system, and so I thought if there's an opportunity to help, I'd stand up for that."
Asked, as all candidates were, how they feel they could contribute to the process of dealing with the current and ongoing sexual abuse investigation coming to a close and trying to bring justice and healing to the community, Schibley noted his experience as a clinical mental health counselor.
"What I think I could bring to bear is sort of a focus on the entire community impact and ensuring there is a place for all of those needs to be met and those voices to be heard," he said. "I feel I could bring the mental health component to the table."
The six other candidates were Brian Hughes, Rich Leavy, Rikki Risatti, Colleen Savage, Liz Hibbard Strong, and Laure Olivia Sweetnam.
"I'm certainly looking forward to serving the town and the school board and supporting it more going forward," Schibley said after his appointment.
Following a 14-minute executive session, Board Chair Kelly Young called the deliberation - the board's third attempt to fill Dever's seat - "pleasantly difficult because the first time around we received no candidates expressing interest and then we received one candidate that had to withdraw for personal reasons."
She thanked all seven for their interest in "helping us serve the community and students" and encouraged them all to run for a full term in their respective towns' Annual Town Elections in March and "continue to participate."
This News item by Virginia Ray was written for The Commons.