Blake Sawyer and his wife have all their bases covered in Richardson ISD. Their son at Westwood Junior High is busy preparing for his freshman year at Richardson High School. Their daughter enjoys fifth grade at Arapaho Classical Magnet, where she nourishes her love of science and art. Their little one is in Pre-K at Dobie, where they “teach the tiniest to be the mightiest.” With kids on three different campuses, some busy parents might be focused on “me and mine.” Instead, Sawyer says he’s ready to step onto the school board and help students all over the district.
“I think having kids in so many different phases of life and development allows me to see the work we need to do for all our kids in the district,” he says. “Also, having a three-year-old in the district means I will be here for a while and want to advocate for everyone along the way.”
A former Apple engineer now working as director of national operations for a software company, Sawyer is challenging incumbent Eric Eager for one of RISD’s two at-large seats. Two years ago, he ran unsuccessfully for the seat now held by Chris Poteet. He has served on RISD’s Technology Advisory Committee, working to develop more security around student devices and more transparency for families about device interactions. He served on the Social Emotional Learning Family Involvement Committee, working to coordinate SEL lessons at school with stakeholders in homes, and he was on the Strategic Planning Committee, brainstorming creative ways to achieve district goals.
“In addition to my experience and passion for our public schools,” he says, “three things that I think qualify me for this role are my ability to listen first and speak second, wiring that allows me to approach a problem logically and with a level head, and my desire to find common ground with people of all walks of life. JFK once said, ‘What unites us is far greater than what divides us.’ I take this to heart in any interaction, and when it comes to our schools, I want to find ways we can all work together so that our students get an excellent education.”
Sawyer says his focus will be to return RISD to the high standards not seen across the district in many years.
“Somebody once told me that an organization could be known for one thing,” he says. “What I would love to see change is that when people from across Texas or the country think of RISD, they think of excellence. Excellence in the way we teach our children. Excellence in the way we equip our teachers. Excellence in the way we manage our resources.”
Sawyer says his goal has been to help others exceed their expectations and reach their full potential.
“Through work experiences, such as serving our community at a local church, helping others as a digital forensic examiner for a nearby police department, or encouraging my employees to take pride in their roles, I have lived out this goal to everyone I come in contact with. Also, having been a foster parent, I know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to complex problems but that every individual needs compassion to succeed.”
Sawyer sees change coming to the district, and he believes trustees have the power to shape those changes in ways positive — or negative — for students.
“I am excited to see where the board will head in the next three years. There has been a lot of change within RISD recently, and hopefully, that change will be for the betterment of our kids. When we moved to the district in 2009, we did so because we wanted to ensure our kids were set up for success, and these past three years have been hard. I want to advocate for betterment of everyone in the district, regardless of neighborhood, beliefs, or nationality. Having seen the unanimously approved budget and the approved bundled continuing expenses, some tough conversations will come soon. I think, based on my history and experience, I have particular qualifications and interests in making sure we come through those decisions in a way that equips RISD (from students to staff to community) to a district known for its excellence.”
You may read our feature on Eric Eager here. Election Day is May 6. Early voting begins April 24.