Four candidates are vying for two seats on the Yarmouth School Committee in the June 13 election.

Sarah Norsworthy, Christina Patrick, Taryn Southard and incumbent Michael Wilbur, in interviews with The Forecaster,  discussed meeting the increased needs of students and the growing debate around the role parents should play in school curriculum.

Sarah Norsworthy


Norsworthy said her biggest priority is ensuring that all students feel welcome and supported in school and she hopes to craft policies that will facilitate that.

Norsworthy, who has worked as a classroom teacher and literacy coach, is currently employed by the Maine Department of Education, though she does not represent them when speaking as a candidate, she said.

“How we respond to our students is what allows them to have a sense of belonging and purpose and connection in school,” things that have become more needed in recent years, she said.


“A large issue facing schools is balancing input from parents and community members while prioritizing students and educators and their experience in school,” she said.

She said there have been misunderstandings around certain issues, and problems can arise when personal or individual concerns get taken to a larger scale than necessary.

For instance, she said, she recently sent an email to the School Committee about her concern with cultural appropriation at a school event. A committee member used their personal email to forward her message to a conservative website, which published it and ridiculed her.

“Schools across the country are wrestling with it and Yarmouth is no different,” she said.

While it’s important to listen to and understand concerns from parents and community members, “I don’t think that parents should be dictating what happens in schools,” she said. “I, as an educator, am a professional and schools need to be trusting educators on these issues.

“The role of the policy making board is to be really clear about what our policies are, and the beautiful part is that there are places in our policies that allow for public forums and people with expertise to come in and share, and that’s an important part of the process,” she said.


Christina Patrick


Patrick has worked for multiple education-based nonprofits, as well as in career development at Bates College and at the high school level helping with post-secondary transitions.

“It’s important that every student has a trusted adult in their school building,” she said, adding that they have seen an increase in emotional and social needs from students in recent years.

Patrick said that’s it’s also true for teachers.

“We put a lot on our teachers to hold, and I want to make sure teachers have the space and opportunities to thrive with their emotional and physical health,” she said.

Yarmouth has struck a good balance of communication between teachers, students, parents and administrators, she said.


“Broadly speaking there’s a really healthy relationship in our town between parents and educators,” she said. “We’re all deeply invested in our kids.” 

She said she hopes the committee can create space for “conversations that honor what parents know and their expertise about their kids, and what teachers know and their expertise in pedagogy.” At the end of the day, she said, “I center students in all my decisions.” 

Taryn Southard


Southard, a literacy coach with Portland Public Schools, was a classroom teacher for 16 years and has worked in administration.

The demographics of Yarmouth schools are changing, she said. With more asylum seekers arriving in Cumberland County, “we’re receiving more economically disadvantaged and multilingual students.”

She said about 5% of Yarmouth school students are multilingual, compared to about 3% statewide. 


“I see us working more on providing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the district,” she said. “A lot of those initiatives are not in this year’s budget.”

A closer look at Yarmouth schools’ teaching theories and practices is needed “to make sure they align with our diverse population,” she said.

While she hopes for improvements in those areas, she is not coming in “with any particular agenda,” she said, and hopes to “be a listener and then build policies that support our diverse school population.”

Michael Wilbur 


Wilbur is seeking reelection after completing a three-year term on the school committee.

As a second grade teacher and the father of a middle schooler, Wilbur said he’s seen firsthand the emotional and social effects of the pandemic on students in the last few years.


“Lost learning is the biggest challenge, and that’s both educational and social,” he said. “Kids need more across the board” than they did previously, he said.

Of debates around parent involvement, he said, “We see a certain population pushing for parents’ rights. The discussion in Yarmouth has been quite civil, and when we come up against controversial issues, people have listened to each other.”

The committee recently finished working on “a fairly controversial trans and gender fluid policy that has generated strong feelings, but it’s always been civil,” he said.

Parents have a say in their children’s lives at school, he said, but “I’d be reluctant to say to my kid’s teacher, ‘I know more than you do about this.'”

There are opportunities for parents to get involved, he said.

“The school committee is really only responsible for setting the policy and setting the budget,” which he said is important to remember. “People want us to get into the weeds … that’s legally not our purview, so we have to tread very carefully.”

Polls will be open June 13, at the Yarmouth High School gym, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This story was updated May 25 to correct where Christina Patrick worked in career development. 

Comments are not available on this story.