This fall, five candidates are running for election to two seats on the Pickerington Schools Board of Education.
Incumbent Keith Kristoff and challengers Christian Johnson, Cathy Olshefski, Tezlyn Reardon and Barry Sutherland all will be on the Nov. 5 ballot in the race.
In addition to Kristoff's current seat, the candidates will be vying for the seat held by Michelle Waterhouse who opted not to seek reelection.
Johnson, 28, lives on Harbour Town Drive. She has a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Kentucky State University and a master's degree in recreation and sports management from Ohio University.
She is a student mentor at Pickerington High School North and co-founder of Pickerington Parents About Students, Success, Equity and Diversity.
She's also a board member of the Columbus Urban League of Young Professionals.
"I believe changing times call for new leadership," Johnson said. "Pickerington has the distinct privilege of housing residents from all walks of life.
"There is beauty in the uniqueness and differences that make up its ever-changing population.
"As a school board member, the community trusts us to create a diverse educational space where all students are reflected.
"My goal is to be transparent, accessible and accountable. I will strive to ensure every staff member, student and family in every neighborhood is respected, valued and represented equitably in our schools," Johnson said.
"I am fully immersed in putting our students first, and those who are leading the community should be open, understanding and forever evolving for there is power when people move in the same direction. It truly takes a community to raise a child."
Kristoff, 59, of Manchester Drive is seeking his second term on the board. He's married to Lori Kristoff, and the couple have three children: Kelli Kristoff-Stemple, Josh Kristoff and Zach Kristoff.
Kristoff has a business management degree from Ohio University.
"During my first four years on the school board, I learned a lot about the details of our educational system and enjoyed the opportunity to have a positive impact on the students of Pickerington," he said.
"Working together with my fellow board members, I am proud of our schools' accomplishments, such as bringing back art and music, establishing a comprehensive K-12 drug prevention and treatment program and improvement on our state report card.
"I'm excited for our future."
Olshefski, 58, of Sheldrake Court is seeking a return to the school board after being elected in November 2009 and again in November 2013.
She said she had planned to seek a third term in November 2017 but was disqualified from running after it was discovered there was a mistake in her signatures petition.
Olshefski has degrees in finance and management from Indiana University, where she also has a minor in accounting. She is married to Randy Olshefski, and the couple have a son, Will.
She is a member of the 100+ Women Who Care Fairfield County, Grace Fellowship Church, the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce, Pickerington Education Foundation and serves on committees of the Pickerington Food Pantry.
Olshefski also is on the Pickerington Schools leadership team.
"My two-year absence from the board led me to quickly realize how much I miss it," she said. "I miss serving this community. I miss working alongside rock-solid educators and administrators and parents in pursuing the common goal of excellence in education.
"And I miss watching out students develop into well-rounded, productive members of society."
Reardon, 43, lives on Hobart Street and has an 11-year-old son, Tyson.
She has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Massachusetts and a master's degree in business administration from Franklin University.
Reardon is the board director for the Pickerington Youth Athletic Association's third- through sixth-grade boys basketball program, as well as a PYAA boys basketball coach. She's also involved in the Franklin County Local Outreach of Suicide Survivors and served as the group's board president from 2016 to 2018.
"As a mother with a student in the district, I believe we have many opportunities to improve the educational experiences for our children while maintaining fiscal accountability and responsibility," she said.
"I have never been one to complain about something without having at least an idea of how I would fix something if I were in the position. I'm also not one to sit on the sidelines and wait for things to happen.
"I truly believe that if you want to see something change, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty."
Reardon said she believes school leaders should understand the importance of change and "remaining agile in order to react swiftly as issues or opportunities arise."
"Doing the same thing over and over or not adjusting to change because 'that is the way we have always done it' is counterproductive and irresponsible," she said.
"In order to continue to evolve with changes in policies, technologies and strategies, it is imperative to remain open-minded to new ways of doing things, even if it is something that has never been done before.
"Along with change agility, I believe strongly in accountability and transparency in order to inform and educate stakeholders for any organization or group.
"Parents, students, administrators and the Pickerington community are all the primary stakeholders in the performance of our schools."
Reardon said there's "a perceived divide between the school district and the community over decisions and plans that are being made."
"Many stakeholders feel out of the loop with how money is being spent, why changes are or aren't being implemented and plans for improvement in the district," she said.
"I want to help to bridge that divide by meeting regularly with those genuinely invested in our schools and working with other community officials to determine how we can come together to work smart, efficiently and collaboratively."
Sutherland, 54, of Preston Trails Drive is the father of Madison, 21, and Justin, 19.
He's a graduate of Otterbein College, and he's currently a board member of the PYAA football program. He's also an eighth-grade football coach for Ridgeview Junior High School.
"I have had a lot of time coaching and being a part of the kids' lives," Sutherland said. "For me, it's a natural extension of all the years of coaching, as well as community involvement.
"Being a longtime resident of Pickerington and having had two children come through the school system, I want to help our community continue to have success in all aspects of education and to maximize our resources to further improve our kids' education."