Let me start by saying “thank you” to our Duluth community for your support of our kids, families, teachers, and staff of the Duluth public schools. When the pandemic started in March 2020, our community responded by lifting our schools up and stepping in to quickly fulfill the needs of our kids, teachers, and staff. Whether that was by bringing in additional cleaning supplies for our kids' classrooms or making cloth masks for our bus drivers and paraprofessionals, these actions had a meaningful impact on our kids and staff. Duluth showed up for our kids and families, and I will be forever grateful and inspired by the kindness and generosity of our community and the hard work and dedication of our ISD 709 staff.

I am a mother of two boys, one who attends Piedmont Elementary and one who attends Lincoln Park Middle School. I see firsthand how the decisions we make in the boardroom echo in the classroom. I have watched with pride, both as a mother and school board member, my sons’ teachers’ unwavering commitment and innovative teaching strategies grow my sons’ educations.

As a school board member, I am committed to providing the leadership to set a strategic vision that focuses on our kids’ daily experiences in our schools and budget priorities that mirror our community’s commitment to all our kids. As we all witnessed, when our teachers and staff have the resources and leadership they need, there is very little they can’t accomplish for our kids.

For example, our food-service staff and bus drivers prepared and delivered almost 1 million meals to our kids and families. Our paraprofessionals took care of the children of our frontline workers. Our teachers delivered personalized and meaningful instruction both on the computer and in the classroom. Our families leaned in to support their children's education at home in new ways. We accomplished all of this together for our kids.

I believe the next chapter for the Duluth public schools must focus on a budget and a vision that supports every child every day. That means financially supporting staff and programs that focus on closing our graduation rates between our students of color and our white students. That means building the technology infrastructure to support our students and staff in this next phase of public education. We have challenges ahead and big problems to solve, but when we work together we can provide a fun, safe, and challenging learning environment for every child in Duluth.

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“Education is above all a matter of love and responsibility handed down from one generation to another,” Pope Francis once said.

My service to my Duluth community is my expression of love for the kids, families, and ISD 709 staff. I take this responsibility to heart for your kids and mine. It has been an honor and a joy to serve as an At Large School Board member, and I hope I have earned your vote on Nov. 2. (I can be reached at kelly4duluthschoolboard@gmail.com.)

Kelly Durick Eder is an incumbent running for one of two open At Large seats on the Duluth School Board. She wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page. Election Day is Nov. 2.