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School Committee Candidate Spotlight: Tanya Lewis

What is your name?

Tanya Lewis I am currently a sitting School Committee member and should note that the views and opinions expressed in this questionnaire are my own and not reflective of the Sharon Committee’s position on any of the matters discussed in this questionnaire.

Which School Committee term are you running for?

One-year

What is your personal experience or background with PreK-12th grade public education in Massachusetts?

I have two daughters in the Sharon Schools. One in high school and the other in middle school. In addition, my closest friends are educators, all at some point educators in K-12 th . Finally, as an undergraduate I developed science course content for a Saturday academic enrichment program for middle school girls in Boston.

In your opinion, what are the hallmarks of a “good school district”? How do you measure if a school district is deemed “good”?

The hallmarks of a good district are the following. 

  • Joyful children excited about learning new things and interested in improving old things. 
  • Teachers who create safe, interesting and challenging learning environments. 
  • Parents, teachers, administrators and staff who feel supported, consulted and listened to as key stakeholders involved in the education of our children. 
  • A community of people who feel the belong together working to educate our children. 
  • A community in which the children and teachers are exceeding proficiency expectations I would measure this using surveys of students, teachers, parents, administrators and staff. I would also add a district report card with metrics agreed upon between key stakeholders to track performance prior to DESE assessments.

What do you view is the role of the School Committee in the way the district functions?

“The School Committee is accountable for how schools and students perform.” The School Committee supports the District through budget and policy to improve outcomes for students. The School Committee serves as duty bearers responsible for ensuring the rights of students are protected and the needs of all our students are met. Specifically, the School Committee does the following: 

  • Ensures that a Superintendent is hired with a clear vision for what a world class education looks like for Sharon students 
  • Works with the Superintendent to establish a vision for our District 
  • Works with the Superintendent to establish a diverse and inclusive school environment 
  • Holds School Administration accountable for addressing the opportunity gaps experienced by students 
  • Develops policy that protects the rights of children in our District and directs the activities of the District 
  • Holds Administration accountable for operating consistent with the approved strategic plan 
  • Approves a budget that addresses the needs of all students and teachers 
  • As an elected body the School Committee serves as a bridge between the school district and the community

Please describe your thoughts and feelings on input from various stakeholders (educators, parents, and students) on informing decisions.

I believe that it is critical to seek input from stakeholders who are impacted by the school district and those who have an impact on the school district. It will continue to be my approach to hear from all stakeholders to arrive at the most robust decisions for our District.

Sharon is home to a very diverse public school district. The district is working on moving past just the celebration of diversity and toward creating a culture of inclusivity and belonging for all students, families, and educators. In your words, please explain the difference between “equality” and “equity” in a diverse public school system.

The underlying principle of equality and equity is access. However, the focus is different. Equality focuses on giving every student access to the same education. While equity focuses on providing every student access to the opportunities that will help that individual student to be successful. Equity takes into account that all students do not start from the same place and each student has different needs that must be addressed to help them achieve their full potential.

In your opinion, what would it take to maintain a healthy relationship between the School Committee, Administration, the Sharon families and the Educators in the school?

The answer to this question is to create an inclusive environment. A key platform issue for me, an inclusive environment is one in which people feel safe sharing how they feel about a particular topic, which results in an exchange of ideas leading to elevated thinking and a sense of belonging. In an inclusive environment, all opinions are heard, respected, and even welcomed. Differences in viewpoints are not considered to be problematic but rather as an opportunity to understand a different perspective. An inclusive environment will allow us to overcome our differences and work together. I believe, When We All Work Together, We Can Achieve Anything!

What questions do you have for the educators in our district?

First, I want to thank the educators in our district for all they do to help our children achieve their full potential. I’d like to know what the School Committee can do to help our children receive an exceptional education?

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