From Classroom Seat to Board Seat: A Historic Win for Fisher Student

January 18, 2024

On Tuesday, Jan. 2, Isaiah Santiago, a sophomore at St. John Fisher University, made history as he was sworn in as the youngest member to ever serve on the Rochester City School Board.

Isaiah Santiago at his swearing-in ceremony for the Rochester City School District Board.

Santiago, who is a psychology major and political science minor, was elected to the board by citizens of Rochester. The Rochester City School Board is a seven-member board that directs and oversees the operations of the school district, one of the largest in New York State.

As a product of the district—Santiago graduated from the School of the Arts—he is passionate about creating an environment where students can learn and thrive and brings a unique perspective to the board.

“I understand the issues our district is facing on the inside and the solutions students, parents, and teachers want,” he said. “I knew, in running, that I had the opportunity to do something that was bigger than myself, and send a message that young people are ready for change and that we can be a part of that change.”

Santiago is focused on creating a “pipeline of success” for students, preparing them for career and college readiness by modernizing the curriculum, advancing the use of technology, and focusing on trade programs and career and technical education.

“We need to be socially innovative and make changes that reflect younger generations,” he said.

An advocate for mental health awareness in young people, he is also committed to expanding the services offered by the district, including restorative practices and de-escalation training.

“We need to make sure we are giving students solutions in life,” he said.

Santiago was unanimously voted to be chairperson of the Community and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, and he looks forward to collaborating with the larger community as well as city and county government.

“We have to work together across government lines and agencies to ensure we are providing good services to our young people,” he said.