Retiree set to take seat on Pittsburgh school board

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Sylvia Wilson is among three former teachers who won seats on the Pittsburgh Public Schools board in May. A retired elementary school teacher, Wilson spent 26 years in the classroom. After that, she was assistant to the president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. Wilson left that position at around the same time a school board member in her district announced she would not be seeking re-election. Wilson saw it as a perfect opportunity to make the transition from one area of education to another. “I could remain in education, just in a different role,” she says.

Stepping into a role on the school board seemed natural, says Wilson. “It’s not easy to walk away from education. When you step out of the classroom, the desire to work for the children doesn’t disappear.”

People had encouraged Wilson to run for office in the past, but she never considered it until this opportunity presented itself. “I’ve been involved politically for a very long time, and I was happy being behind the scenes. But this was a daring step.”

It was a daring step that paid off for Wilson, who says she was overwhelmed by the grass-roots support she received. In May, Wilson won a seat on the school board, along with two former Pittsburgh teachers, Carolyn Klug and Cynthia Ann Falls.

Although Wilson won, she could face a challenge from a write-in candidate in the November general election. But it’s likely that Wilson will get through the election just fine; and if she does, she will be ready. “I’m a realist. The bottom line is the children. You need to have schools run correctly to have an impact on a child’s education; being on the school board doesn’t change that expectation.” [Adrienne Coles]

August 30, 2013