Question: What are the two most important issues facing Somerville right now, and what would you do on the Board of Aldermen to address those issues?
Although I am running unopposed, I have been out door knocking for the past five months and what I hear regularly from Ward 7 constituents is the need to continue to raise the expectations we have for all our students. Somerville has made significant gains in our MCAS scores, but we need to continue to support our students and teachers in their efforts to drive every student to achieve. I will advocate for programs and services that address the varied needs of all our students. We must challenge all of our students, at, below or above grade level through differentiated instruction and provide our teachers with the supports needed to meet this goal. One way would be to reach out to the many teaching colleges in our area, and formalize how we recruit and place student teachers in all of our schools.
The second most important issue is building stronger connections between families, schools and community. Family involvement is essential for schools to succeed. Families need to have easy access to information about school events, student assignments and progress, along with a clear understanding of the curriculum and how to best support students. This could take the form of an overview of upcoming topics at the start of the year and when starting a new unit. I’m hearing from students and families frustrated because some schools offer certain programs or projects and others do not. If something is working well at one school, others schools could benefit by incorporating it. We need to develop better mechanisms for applying best practices and programs across the district.
Question: Tell us about your background.
I have a 7th and 4th grader in the Somerville public schools and have lived in Somerville for over 20 years. For the past twelve years I have primarily been at home taking care of young children and elderly parents. This has allowed me to volunteer extensively in our schools. I have been a math and literacy tutor, Cochair of the Improvement Council at the Healey School, room parent, Special Education Parent Advisory Committee member, and PTA member. I bring in-depth firsthand knowledge of our classrooms and the importance of supporting our students and teachers.
Currently, I am the Somerville Special Education Advocacy Project Fellow at Massachusetts Advocates for Children, an agency devoted to advocating on behalf of children who face significant barriers to equal educational and life opportunities. I am learning both the intricacies of individual student cases and how other districts implement their special education services. I will offer insight into the fiscal and academic strategic plans necessary to implement equitable and efficient special education services.
I am also a writing instructor mostly working with senior citizens writing memoir. Last year I taught a class through the Somerville Council on Aging, and have worked with the Memoir Project at Grub Street, Inc. and the Boston Council on Aging.
I have been a union organizer and academic and financial aid advisor at the Harvard Extension School.
Question: Why should Somerville residents vote for you?
I have demonstrated my commitment to Somerville students through my extensive volunteering in our schools, supporting the unification of the Healey School, attending West Somerville Neighborhood School events and visiting public housing in Ward 7. I have strong ties with families from across the district. While a majority of Ward 7 families send their children to WSNS, many families send their children to schools throughout the district. I am committed to representing the families of Ward 7 on the School Committee, however, I will make decisions that ensure all Somerville students receive an excellent education. I believe that no matter which school a child attends that education should be consistent with the best practices occurring throughout the district.