Andrew Hames is among three candidates running for one of two open seats on the Sitka School Board.

My name is Andrew Hames, and I am running for a seat on the Sitka School Board.

I was born and raised in Sitka, and I attended Sitka schools for my K-12 education and graduated from Sitka High in 1998. During those years I had many wonderful teachers, several who directly inspired my choice to pursue a career in education.

I have a degree in Music Education, and I spent six years as a public high school and middle school teacher in Blackfoot, ID, teaching choir and other music classes. I also spent ten summers as a teacher at the exceptional Sitka Fine Arts Camp teaching choir, vocal solo, and musical theater.

In 2013, I moved home to Sitka permanently with my family for the opportunity to represent the fourth generation of family involvement with Hames Corporation, learning retail grocery store operations from the ground level up. This was a jarring change in careers for me, but I believe my experience as an educator and businessperson makes me an ideal candidate for School Board.

As a teacher, I often heard voices outside of education advocate that “schools should be run more like a business,” in that they need to operate efficiently within their budgets, be less fearful of risk-taking, incentivize top performing educators through merit-based pay, and do a better job “selling the product” of public education in light of the options parents and guardians have when making school choices for their children.

While I agree with the reality of budgetary constraints and maximizing cost-effectiveness, for me, the comparison between business and education largely stops there. While both involve teams of people working together in a common purpose or goal, the primary motivations and measurements of success are starkly different.

Our school staff is tasked with not just educating our students in a measurable way, but also caring for and guiding their physical, emotional, and mental development. I believe the overwhelming majority of people who work in public education do so because they are passionate about teaching our children, and that leads to rewarding work. Our administrative staff, teachers, paraeducators, counselors, kitchen crews, janitors and custodians, and bus drivers are all essential workers who strive hard to create a community for our students, the future of our society, to learn, grow, and thrive.

The educational community is strongest when administrative staff feel connected to their district office and are given the ability to make positive decisions to set the direction for their school. It is strong when teachers feel supported and are held accountable as the trusted professionals that they are. It is strong when our schools have vibrant community-supported extracurricular programs that introduce our students to new activities and new ways of thinking.

We are certainly facing a challenging road ahead, and I am eager for the opportunity to sit at the table with other school board members and advocate for funding for each of our schools and the vital programs they provide to our youth.

Thank you for listening, and please remember to vote on October 6th.