What is your name?
Which School Committee term are you running for?
What is your personal experience or background with PreK-12th grade public education in Massachusetts?
My experience is as a parent through the lens of my 3 children in addition to family members who have gone through the Massachusetts public school systems in different districts.
Overall, Janelle and I have found that it can sometimes be challenging to navigate ensuring that the needs of your children are met, particularly when you have children with special needs. Some districts excel and some do not.
We’ve also found, in general, that educators and administrators do a really great job overall. We’ve consistently, across districts, have been impressed with the quality and caliber of educators that our children have been fortunate to have.
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 is one that has a well formulated district strategic plan. That plan should be broadly focused on the goals of the community, the educators, and the administration. It should focus on ensuring that each individual learner is empowered and enabled to achieve their own, individual, highest potential irrespective of other factors that they come to the table with. A district with a Superintendent at the helm who listens to the smart people they have working with them as colleagues. A Superintendent that makes tough decisions in alignment with the goals referenced, and holds all involved accountable towards executing a delivery of education to all learners at all levels in the most equitable way possible ensuring a focus on producing high achieving, well-rounded learners.
What do you view is the role of the School Committee in the way the district functions?
The School Committee should focus on providing oversight of the budget, is responsible for policy, and is responsible for the hiring, firing, and managing of the Superintendent to the District Strategic goals and other challenges and/or issues that arise within the schools. While the School Committee also should be able to have some influence on some additional matters given that the School Committee is a representative body representing the community, the School Committee should balance that limited influence to ensure that we are mindful of allowing and empowering our educated educators to use their expertise in problem solving that is evidence-based and not meddle into tactical affairs but rather stay high focused on strategy, execution, and accountability. Understanding this distinction is key and important to ensuring that there is a good relationship between the Superintendent and the School Committee overall.
Please describe your thoughts and feelings on input from various stakeholders (educators, parents, and students) on informing decisions.
A School Committee member is a representative of the town elected by voters. Therefore the communities input is imperative. The Superintendent, Administration, and teachers the the experts in delivery of education and therefore should be responsible for the construction of evidence-based educational practices to our children. Input from all stakeholders referenced is paramount and should be taken into account.
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.
Equity is providing all students the individual access to an education that allows them to achieve their highest potential. This gives every child the best opportunity to succeed at every level of our school system. We owe that to students and learners as a community. Equality means distribution of resources evenly across everyone irrespective of the situation or status. If we truly value diversity, equity, and inclusion then our goal should be focused on equity in our school systems for all of our students.
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?
Assume positive intent when engaging in dialogue.
Be curious and not defensive.
Approach people with respect in all engagements – don’t make things personal.
Listen to understand, don’t just listen to respond.
Actually pause and go beyond hearing – listen, process, and digest others point of view.
Understand going into the discussion that you won’t always agree with everyone on everything and that’s ok.
Remain focused on the higher level goal – we are at this table to focus on problem solving and creating an optimal situation for students and teachers – always!
Ultimately, the answer here is simple and is something that not only do the educators teach our children daily but I know many parents teach their kids. We have only to embody those simple values in order to achieve the desired outcome.
What questions do you have for the educators in our district?
What are your biggest challenges as educators? How can the parents and the community better support your work and efforts? What would you change in the school system if you had an opportunity to? Why? We often focus on our challenges which is appropriate, tell me what are the areas that give you hope?