I've been fortunate to have Jeannie Smith as a close friend for more than 10 years. We met in Manhattan, both got married and began raising our children together in New York City and now in Westport. Jeannie was a critical influence on our family when our child was very young.

Given her background as a teacher and educational consultant, she was able to identify developmental issues with our child and advised us to have him assessed. As a result, he received outstanding early intervention services. When we arrived to Westport, Jeannie pointed us to the outstanding Stepping Stones integrated special education preschool program in Coleytown, from which we have benefitted immensely.

Jeannie spent 11 years as a teacher and reading/literacy consultant in Westchester County, N.Y. She designed an innovative curriculum, including the Ossining Summer Math Academy. Jeannie knew that she had to motivate kids by creating engaging lesson plans, so she spent hours outside of the classroom looking for novel ways to reach each child.

Jeannie gives graciously to her community. To strengthen parent knowledge and foster community among parents, she formed Moms Connect at our preschool, where invited speakers cover topics such as: "Building Math Skills in Your Child" and "Meeting the Benchmarks of Education at Every Grade Level."

Since there are no other educators on the board, Jeannie brings a unique perspective to a board that we Westporters need.

On Nov. 5, vote for Jeannie Smith, "The Educator for Board of Ed."

Mary Esser