The following represents the candidate’s responses to the Current’s School Committee-specific questions. Jump back to Election Guide
Years in Marblehead: My husband, two boys and our rescue dogs moved here almost 12 years ago. We chose Marblehead over surrounding communities because we prioritized having a strong public school system to enroll our children in. Both of my boys have had wonderful experiences in the Marblehead Public Schools, which started with their attendance in the Integrated Preschool program and continues today. My eldest boy is now a sophomore at Marblehead High School and my younger is in fifth grade at Village School.
Occupation/education: I have a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Boston College and am the school counselor for the Tower School, which provides me an invaluable window into the educational world. I worked for the Marblehead Counseling Center for many years as well, specializing in work with children and adolescents. I believe I am uniquely qualified to ensure that the needs of all Marblehead children are addressed and met.
Appointed positions and/or elected offices: I have been a member of the Marblehead School Committee for five years and served as chairperson for three of those years.
What are the three reasons/issues motivating your decision to run for election?
For starters, I have enjoyed my time on the School Committee and it has given me significant opportunities for growth. I am excited for the possibility to continue to work with school and town leadership to build the best public schools possible. Additionally, I want to continue to work with administration on the projects that are ongoing. In my time on the School Committee, great strides have been made on the financial responsibility, fidelity and transparency of the school department. Using this to continue to advocate for the ever evolving needs of the schools is of the utmost importance to me. Finally, I strongly believe that leadership positions should be filled with people who are level headed and focused on calm, forward-thinking leadership. I believe this is the way that I have led during my time on the School Committee and would be honored to continue in this way.
Is the general override for the $2.5 million supplemental budget going to pass? If it doesn’t, how should the School Committee respond?
I am very hopeful that the override will pass. The School Committee has passed a budget based on the supplemental override that will allow the school district to keep the current operations of each school building. Should the override fail, there are teachers who will lose their job and programs that will no longer be available for children. I am very hopeful that this does not become a reality. It is catastrophic in my opinion. The School Committee has also passed a budget that delineates the cuts that will happen. There are no additional responses to be had should the override not pass. It will be an incredibly unfortunate situation that will be seen by other communities as a black mark on Marblehead. I believe the schools are the crown of our town. Cutting services, especially to the schools, is not what keeps a town vibrant and thriving.
What is your understanding of recent trends with respect to parents sending their children to private schools instead of keeping them in Marblehead? If you see this as a problem, how will you address it on the School Committee?
As someone who works for a private school, I believe the decision on where to send your child/children to school is deeply personal and reflects many different factors that can change through childhood. I also believe deeply in a strong public school system. This is why I continue to want to be a part of the School Committee. Support for our teachers is the best way to ensure that public schools remain strong. Teachers are being asked to do more than ever within their classroom environment. Small classroom sizes, adequate funding for resources, support staff for students in need and compassionate administrators are important factors for teachers to feel equipped to effectively educate children today. There are aspects of each of those points that the School Committee can have an impact on. Over the past five years I have focused on these pieces and they will continue to be important keys to building an exemplary public school system for Marblehead.
Many Massachusetts public school districts are doing more to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Is this an important issue in Marblehead? Why has funding for a DEI coordinator and DEI programming been so controversial?
For me, DEI should not be the controversial issue it is made out to be. Its main target should be for all students to feel positive and ready to learn when they come to school. DEI is not about making some students feel bad at the expense of others. One story that spoke to me about the benefits of DEI being a focus in school districts was from a district similar in demographics to Marblehead. They noticed that their high school boys were underperforming on the MCAS compared to the girls. They focused their DEI work on identifying why the boys were doing poorly and addressed the achievement gap. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is continually putting forward educational requirements regarding DEI that districts must meet. If Marblehead Public Schools choose not to fund some kind of a coordinator position, these mandates from DESE will have to be addressed by current employees of the school district, who already have full job descriptions to attend to. All of that said, there are many areas of need within Marblehead Public Schools and balancing those needs to the full benefit of kids and teachers is of the utmost importance.
There’s a perception in town that there are “factions” on the School Committee. Is this accurate and, if it is, what can be done to make the SC more harmonious and effective?
I strongly believe that the narrative of factions of the School Committee have been grossly overblown and dramatized by negativity on social media. It is frustrating when any board is criticized for rubber stamping business but then also criticized when there is a healthy (if heated) public conversation about matters within their purview. When the School Committee makes decisions, it becomes one voice. Sometimes that voice reflects what I believe to be the best way forward and sometimes it does not. I believe that each member comes to the table with the best of intentions and a desire to do good work. Continuing forward with that mindset will contribute to a well functioning committee and will set a productive tone for a strong public school system.