I grew up in Westfield, MA and graduated from Westfield High School in
In 2002, while working for the youth department in Achim, Germany, I
evaluated after-school and summer programs offered by the city and
community organizations. City officials adopted recommendations from my
final report, resulting in stronger community support and a more efficient
In 2003, I graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Politics.
Shortly thereafter, I moved to Cambridge and quickly became involved in
local politics, working as the field coordinator for Avi Green's race for
State Representative. I have also volunteered for many local and state
candidates, collected signatures for ballot questions and currently I am
working at the Department of Environmental Protection.
- More active School Committee - As a school committee member I will
work to strengthen the networks of communication between the school
committee and the parents, teachers, and students. I believe that in
order to make sound policy, the school committee needs to hear from
the public and those involved in our schools.
- Closing the achievement gap
- Continue and expand partnerships with local businesses, non-profits,
colleges and universities to increase out of the classroom programs
- Increase teacher involvement in out of the classroom programming
" Ensure that teachers have the necessary resources, professional
development and support.
Superintendent Thomas Fowler-Finn's Contract - Based on what you
know today, would you support an extension of this contract and, if so,
for what term and under what conditions?:
During two candidate forums several incumbents gave vague responses as to
whether or not they would renew the superintendent's contract. Basically,
they hadn't come to a conclusion yet, even though the vote to renew the
contract is about two months away. I find this very disappointing because
they have had an opportunity to work with him for about 2 years and by not
answering this question they are doing a disservice to the voters.
I have not had a chance to work directly with the superintendent, which
is why I will vote to renew his contract. Yes, I have heard mixed reviews,
but his record speaks for itself. Under his leadership, our schools have
gone from on-watch, to good standing, having met Adequate Yearly Progress
for two years in a row as of 2007.
Life is not a multiple-choice test. Many important lessons are learned out
of the classroom. It was at a gubernatorial campaign rally in Springfield,
MA, where I first encountered the world of politics. I was immediately
drawn to the excitement, the passion of the supporters and also the
passion of the non-supporters. If it wasn't for my high school teacher,
Mr. Shepardson, and his assignment of getting involved in local campaign
work, I may never have gotten 'the bug' as many people describe it.
I am passionate about out of the classroom learning because it is where
students can explore their interests, skills, and hobbies and also grow as
individuals. Like I mentioned above, I want to expand partnerships with
local businesses, non-profits, colleges and universities to increase out
of the classroom programs.
Enrollment and the Marketing of Public Schools vs. Charter
Schools and Private Schools:
Increasing and maintaining enrollment is key to continuing the progress of
Cambridge Schools. Even though there is an increase in Kindergarten
enrollment, we need to be in communication with parents to ensure the
satisfaction of their children's education.
School Department Budget and Capital Needs (including CRLS
renovations), and the Disposition of Surplus Buildings:
I foresee the budget being very tight over the next few years considering
the 96 million dollar renovation of the high school. We need to begin work
on reducing our long-term expenditures and one method is to reduce our
energy costs, which are now 15% of the budget. I believe that my position
and the resources available to me at the DEP, will allow me to play a
vital role in cutting energy costs. Before we make any cuts to the budget,
I would like to analyze where we could reduce our costs across the board
instead of removing or drastically cutting programs or staff.
We need to keep surplus buildings open for a swing space during the
high school renovations. After the completion of the high school
renovations, the school committee must work together with the city and
investigate what the needs are of both the school system and the city as a
whole. Cambridge needs building space for the Department of Public Works,
a fire headquarters and a location for the schools' central
administration. I would like to keep all options open while encouraging
feedback from citizens.
MCAS and Measuring Student Achievement:
First, we need to look at the results of the MCAS scores. What are the
trends towards success? Sometimes the means of improvement and success can
be seen over the long term, which is why we need to closely monitor
results and maintain a database of test results. Teachers need to be
encouraged to share their methods of success to improve scores. Where the
results indicate needed improvement, there must be enough resources,
professional development and support. I also want to hear suggestions from
teachers, students and their parents.
School Safety and Student Behavior:
School safety is a high priority for me and I will work to ensure that
students have safe and healthy learning environments.
Parent Involvement and School Councils:
I think parent involvement is crucial for successful schools. I support
school councils and as a school committee member I would like to meet with
them on a regular basis, informing them of the school committee agenda
while listening to their feedback.
School Committee's Website:
Committee Assignments - these need to be posted on the web. People need to
be more aware of what the committee members are focusing on and who to
contact directly for specific issues.
Budget Figures and MCAS results need to be displayed on the website and
reported to the public in a clearer fashion.
This candidate has not yet responded to the following topics:
3) School Department Administration:
5) Controlled Choice, Student Assignment Policies, and the
8) Elementary Schools and Curriculum:
9) High School Programs and Curriculum: