Meet Tom Edwards
Tom Edwards stands alone on the Sarasota County School Board. He is its only moderate voice advocating for the freedom of teachers, the rights of ALL students and parents, and the preservation of public schools from the destructive, political winds of privatization.
In his short time on the school board, Tom is the only one who stands behind his words and has proven his commitment with the following accomplishments:
- Building creative community partnerships is one of Tom’s strengths. After many failed attempts to develop a Trades Academy in the school district, Tom partnered with the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange to create the first one at Riverview High School. Non-college-bound students have hands-on, skill-building learning leading to careers after graduation. The success of this academy is being duplicated in two additional high schools.
- Recognizing that the community is facing a shortage of healthcare workers, Tom brought the Sarasota Technical College with Sarasota Memorial Hospital and the City of North Port to develop a two-year certificate program at a future Health Care Academy. The academy is in the final phase of planning and solidifying funding sources.
- Because Sarasota County must compete with other communities to attract the highest quality teachers, bus drivers, and food care workers, Tom teamed with community leaders and the Housing Authority to develop an innovative plan to ease our housing shortage. His fellow board members chastised him for working on this issue and said they had more important ones to consider.
- Tom doesn’t just say he’s here for the students, he proves it by being the only school board member to visit every district school, interacting with teachers and principals, and attending schoolwide events. In addition, he is the most vibrant supporter of communitywide activities ranging from town hall meetings to performing art shows.
Tom has over 40 years of successful entrepreneurial experience as the co-founder and owner of two thriving New York businesses. Also, he has 11 years of small business advocacy at the state legislative level within the New York State General Assembly.
In the aftermath of Covid, Tom became aware of the mental health crisis facing students and teachers. He joined the board of the Lee and Bob Peterson/Sunshine From Darkness Foundation to determine ways of delivering health and wellness help to those that need it.
Most mornings, Tom can be found rowing approximately 10,000 meters on the intercoastal waterway. This avid Masters-level rower co-founded the Newtown Rowing Initiative to introduce high school students to the many benefits of this sport: learning advanced life skills, enjoying a healthy and recreational experience, and opening up a new avenue of collegiate scholarships.
As a Sarasota County School Board member, Tom has a proven track record of standing up for the democratic values this community cherishes and leading the district with integrity, intelligence, and innovation.