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Mervan was born in London, England and raised in the Bronx. After attending Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, he joined the first Teach for America corps as a teacher in Los Angeles in 1990.
In 1994, Mervan moved to Cambridge to teach at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School. In his twelve years at BB&N, Mervan taught English and drama, coached multiple sports, and worked in the school's Admissions Office.
Seven years ago, Mervan helped to found Beacon Academy, where he is now the Associate Head of School. Beacon is the only school of its kind in the country: an intense "bridge year" between eighth and ninth grades. In a single year, Beacon students make two or even three years of academic progress – they close the Achievement Gap. The vast majority of the school's alumni go on to thrive at highly-competitive secondary schools and colleges.
Outside of school, Mervan serves as the Governor's Appointee to the Massachusetts Humanities Board. He recently joined the Board of Directors at Concord Academy. And for the past 17 years, he's directed a summer film and drama camp for young people in Cambridge.
In his personal time, Mervan loves producing and reviewing films, cooking for his wife Lucy, and enjoying Cambridge's parks with his dog Sparky. He and Lucy look forward to one day raising a family and sending their children to Cambridge Public Schools.
School Department Administration and Superintendent
However, this doesn't mean that we should give the Superintendent a "blank check." As a member of several Boards of Directors and as a school administrator, I know how to ask the right questions and ensure real accountability.
It's not our job to micro-manage district operations. As a School Committee member, I'll stay focused on what's always been most important to me: academic excellence.
School Department Budget and Capital Needs
For example, our K-3 early literacy program is strong. By investing directly in teaching and learning, we're setting a strong foundation for every student. And CRLS is an excellent high school. Through focused and strategic investments, we've built a wealth of strong programs and completed a spectacular renovation.
However, despite high per-pupil spending, many of our schools still show pronounced achievement gaps across socioeconomic lines. We can do better. As a School Committee member, I will dig into the budget line-by-line and find new ways to get the most for our money.
The Innovation Agenda
We have plenty of evidence that the district will be able to do this job well. Cambridge's K-3 early literacy program is incredibly strong, and the resources we've focused on CRLS are paying off in a spectacular renovation.
Now it's time to extend this level of quality. I agree with Superintendent Young that our new campuses will retain a greater number of our strongest students as they rise to the secondary level. And as a middle-school teacher, I'm excited to place particular emphasis on the developmental needs of students on these new campuses. I will work with the administration to ensure the strength of the academic program and that our facilities are appropriately renovated.
This will require us to strike a balance between two important priorities. First, we'll need a consistent Upper School program that creates pathways toward success for all students. But second, we must also recognize the distinct strengths and challenges of each school in our district – and we must empower each school community to pursue its own unique brand of excellence. We need to afford families the chance to connect in their new communities and involve them in the process as we go through this planning year.
The necessary balance isn't easy to find. To get the job done right, we'll need intense, ongoing collaboration between parents, teachers, administrators, and School Committee members. And I believe that I'm the right person to help facilitate this collaboration. At every school where I've worked, I've been the kind of "connector" who builds bridges between parties and finds practical common ground.
Controlled Choice, Student Assignment Policies, and the "Achievement Gap"
Given these findings, it makes sense for our district to try and "balance" schools by class and race. But unfortunately, Cambridge's Controlled Choice system is not meeting its goals. First, our schools are not balanced. And even more importantly, our attempts to create balance do not seem to be leading to excellent academic outcomes for all children.
I don't think that Controlled Choice should be dismantled entirely. And I don't claim to have a "magic bullet" that can fix it. But as I talk to parents, teachers, and administrators throughout the district, several themes are becoming clear:
Enrollment and the Marketing of Public Schools vs. Charter Schools and Private Schools
I look forward to going out into the community and marketing a school district that demands the absolute best from its students, cultivates comprehensive parental involvement, and pursues an aggressive recruitment and hiring strategy that ensures the success of our students.
Teacher Evaluations, Performance Measures, and Contract Negotiations
An effective evaluation strategy incorporates multiple metrics such as meaningful student and parent surveys, systematic classroom observations, measures of professionalism and school community participation, and fair assessment of test score gains for students in each teacher's classroom. Moreover, we must provide our teachers with the appropriate opportunities for improving their practice and supporting them to grow.
Educator evaluation is a critical issue in our schools. Teachers influence student achievement more than any other school-based factor, and school leaders provide the environment and supports so teachers can do their job well.
The importance of effective educator evaluation has been highlighted at both the federal level, by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama, and at the state level with new regulations on evaluations. In the upcoming years, Cambridge will need to align the current system with the state regulations. We must take a holistic approach and set a high bar for our students and our educators.
CCTV Candidate Video (2011)
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