Emily Shanley is running for school director in the Phoenixville Area School District, located in Chester County. She is a registered Republican and the owner and operator of a local pet care business. 

Why are you running for school board? 

I am running for school board because I have a passion for education and know that my business experience and solution oriented attitude will bring a valuable perspective to the board. With a strong background in both cultural and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) studies, I understand the value of a well rounded education and, most importantly, the importance of helping our students succeed. I am a lifelong Schuylkill Township resident, and I love this community. By serving on the school board, I hope to help make a brighter future for our students, our district, and our community.

What are the most important issues facing your district?

While the current board here in Phoenixville just recently finalized the new redistricting plan and successfully concluded the new superintendent search, there are still many issues ongoing which are important to our students and our community. Upcoming, two of the most important issues I foresee are keeping the Hares Hill building project on schedule and on budget, as well as making the transition to newly redistricted schools as smooth as possible once the new building is complete.

However, thinking more broadly, there are three main issues which I will prioritize on the board. I believe that the school board must always put students first in its decisions, so my first priority will be academics and ensuring that students have all the resources and support that they need to succeed. Our district must always strive for academic excellence and seek to implement the best and most effective curriculum and teaching practices possible to help our students learn.

My next priority will be fiscal responsibility. The board has a duty to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is being used effectively and responsibly. Some members of our community are facing real hardship in the current economic climate, so it is more important than ever that the district seek all possible grants and state and federal funding to ensure that we aren’t further burdening families with constant or excessive tax increases. Additionally, a third priority will be community engagement. I believe the board must foster open dialogue and constantly consider different perspectives, backgrounds, and ideas, and there is definitely room to make the current communication practices and policies more effective and transparent.

What is your professional background/experience?  What skills would you bring to the board?

I received a bachelor of arts degree in Art History with minors in Math and Physics from Case Western Reserve University. Now, I am a pet care professional and local business owner. I started my dog walking and pet sitting business, Bryn and Friends Pet Care LLC, in early 2017. In addition, I am the newsletter editor for and serve on the board of directors of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society, which meets monthly at the First United Methodist Church in Phoenixville to discuss hobby horticulture and conservation.

I am motivated, organized, and detail-oriented. Running my own business has taught me the importance of communication and of considering a wide variety of ideas and opinions. I’ve learned that sometimes you need to actively engage in discussion, but sometimes the situation calls for simply listening thoughtfully. On the board, I am prepared to foster open dialogue both with the community and within the board itself.

Have you run for political office previously?  Have you been politically active?

Yes, I unsuccessfully ran for School Director in the Phoenixville Area School District in 2021. While I don’t believe that the school board is or should be political, for the last three and a half years, I have been very active in our district, attending almost every board meeting and keeping up-to-date on all district issues. 

Are you running with other candidates?

No, I am not running as part of a slate or officially with other candidates. However, knowing that whichever five candidates the community selects will have to work together, I am actively seeking to converse and generally keep a good relationship with my fellow candidates. To learn more about my campaign, please visit my Facebook page.

What is the most important role of the school board in your opinion?

I believe that the purpose of the school board is first and foremost to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students. To me, this means that the primary goal of our schools should be to enable students to become upstanding and successful members of our community, while always recognizing that success can look like many different things.

We contacted the Democratic and Republican committees in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Montgomery counties and asked them to share the questions with their school director candidates. Broad + Liberty will post the responses throughout the summer to assist voters in learning about the candidates running in their district. The series is open to any school director on the ballot in November. Please contact barosica@broadandliberty.com for more information.

Broad + Liberty is a nonprofit media endeavor dedicated to sharing voices and stories that are shut out of other media outlets. @BroadAndLiberty

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