LEDYARD BOARD OF EDUCATION CANDIDATES
Mike Brawner is running for re-election to the Ledyard BOE where he currently serves as Chairman of the Finance and Negotiations Committees. Mike has served on the BOE since 2015. Mike and his wife Maureen have been residents of Ledyard for over 19 years, and have three children; Emily, Megan, and Kevin, who are all proud graduates of Ledyard Public Schools. Mike is employed by General Dynamics Electric Boat and has been heavily involved in community service and youth team coaching for years, including Ledyard Youth League Baseball, Parks and Recreation Basketball and Softball, and serves as the President of the Ledyard Athletic Booster Club.
Mike believes in a fiscally responsible budget that does not spend more than the town can afford while ensuring program cuts and overcrowded classrooms do not penalize the students. Mike pushes for proactive, budget-conscious, long-term school technology, and infrastructure planning to minimize continuous tax increases. He also recognizes that open, 2-way communications between the Board of Education, the Town Council, and the community are essential for a successful Ledyard Public School System.
Brandon Graber grew up in North Stonington and graduated from Wheeler High School. He later attended the University of Lowell, where he earned his BS in Physics. After a short time working around the Northeast, he returned to Southeastern Connecticut, where he has lived in Ledyard since 2007 with his wife Lorraine. Their four children attended the Ledyard School System, where they participated in many athletic, musical, science, math, and social organizations. Three of them graduated from Ledyard High School as Ledyard Scholars. Brandon has been very active in the Ledyard community. He has coached many youth soccer teams, served as the Ledyard Soccer Club treasurer, chaperoned music trips, Gettysburg trips, and trips to Philmont Scout Ranch for 100-plus mile back-packing adventures. He was also a member of the District Round Table for the Mohegan District of the Connecticut Rivers Council.
Brandon is enjoying his time on the Board of Education. He brings his strategic planning and emergency preparedness expertise from being a Superintendent of Technical Services in the Health Physics Department at Dominion Energy. He has participated with CABE, Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. The training that CABE provides broadens the mindset of what it takes to represent a community. Brandon believes in the three pillars of education: the students, the educators, and the community. Each of these requires a strong foundation supported by fiscally responsible policies that bring each pillar to its highest achievement. Brandon's decisions balance the need of all three pillars to provide services to prepare our students to be productive members of society. Each student has a special place in Ledyard and deserves the community's support to provide a safe and effective environment to learn and develop physically, intellectually, and socially.
Steve Munger arrived in Connecticut from Japan in 1993 as a Navy Master Chief Petty officer and his family moved to Gales Ferry in 1996 after he retired with over 24 years of service. He lived in New Jersey until joining the Navy at the age of 17 after graduating high school. His love for sports had allowed him to wrestle through his mid-40s and he has coached wrestling in Ledyard since 2014. His commitment to our youth led him to involvement in local politics and to continue that commitment as a member of the Board of Education. He managed a supermarket for 12 years and currently supports our military by working for Balfour Beatty Housing. He has been married for 42 years to his wife Eileen, has a son Michael who serves as a Ledyard soccer coach and referee, and two grandsons involved in Ledyard sports.
Steve believes in small and effective government and is committed to ensuring the children of Ledyard receive the best education possible.
Anthony Favry has been a Ledyard resident for more than 14 years. He has been married to his wife, Kristin since 2004 and they have two children in the Ledyard school system. Anthony leads the national group life and disability practice at MetLife where he's been employed for over sixteen years.
Anthony's hope for the BOE is to have members that support a healthy, respectful group dynamic versus conformity. During his tenure on the BOE, Anthony has advocated for community inclusion and full transparency to foster respect within the community as well as encourage the community's trust in the school system. He approaches key strategies and decisions that impact the school system long-term rather than single-issue resolutions. Anthony has worked hard with the members of the BOE and Superintendent to build trust and a symbiotic relationship with the Town Council and Mayor, as well as the other town committees. He believes that healthy public schools and accountability of teachers and administrators will not only attract people to the town, but it will also build pride and respect within the community.
Whit Irwin moved to Ledyard in 2005, intending to stay for three years, and became a lifelong resident. He married Holly Irwin in 2002, and the couple has three children: Conor (deceased), Gretchen (16), and Charles (less than one year). Having spent more than 27 years in the U. S. Coast Guard, primarily as a rescue helicopter pilot, he is dedicated to public service. He has spent much of his life devoted to learning or educating: earning his Bachelor’s from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1992 and his Master’s from The College of William and Mary in 2004, teaching cadets at the Coast Guard Academy as a member of the Superintendent’s staff, the Commandant of Cadets’ staff, and as an associate professor for a total of five years, serving as adjunct faculty at Connecticut College for another five years, filling in as a substitute teacher in the Ledyard and LEARN systems, and instructing basic and advanced flight techniques for more than eight years. He currently works for Sonalysts, Inc. as an Operations Research Analyst.
In the short time he has served on the BOE, he immediately contributed to understanding the progress of COVID in the community and surrounding areas and how it affected students and the school systems; he drove resolution-centered discussions and made difficult decisions. His behind-the-scenes work has forwarded the Board’s goals and helped to guide public discourse. Whit is committed to ensuring students become personally invested in their education because a strong education is a foundation for a healthy future and a strong community.
Laurel Wiers has been a resident of Ledyard most of her life, leaving for only the seven years it took to pursue her Master’s degree. She and her husband Eric were married in 1996 and have three children in Ledyard public schools. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has been practicing for over 20 years. She started Lighthouse Counseling in Groton more than ten decades ago, which has since grown into a group practice serving New London County. She is also the author of Betrayed, Not Broken (Morgan James, 2015) and a national trainer for Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), teaching other clinicians how to treat PTSD with this specific model of therapy. Laurel spent three years serving as an adjunct instructor at the college level. She taught classes at East Carolina University in the Child Development and Family Relations Department and taught a semester at Mitchell College.
Like it was for so many others, the year 2020 led Laurel down a road where she began to pay closer attention to the local and federal government. As a result, she explored opportunities to become involved with and serve her town. Laurel believes in small government and open communication among community members. She believes students are best served when parents, teachers, administrators, community members, and the students themselves are involved in the dialogue around educational decisions. She believes ongoing feedback from the community should influence policy and goals so that the schools are a reflection of what the community wants versus individual agendas.