MY PLATFORM

A safe return to the classroom

The disruption in educational routine may have long-term effects on our students, families, and staff. Having appropriate support in our schools will be essential as our students move to in-person learning. I will advocate for more formalized programming in our schools to support this transition and beyond.

Communication

As a school committee member, I will encourage open and transparent communication by working with the district to field effective staff and family satisfaction surveys, fully disclosing results, and taking actions based on findings.

Student achievement

I will encourage a proactive and collaborative approach for our district to assess and implement policies to improve outcomes. This is especially important as we transition to more and all in-person learning.

More about my positions

What is my reason for running for School Committee?

I am eager to contribute and participate in a more impactful way in my community. I’m invested in our schools, having served in leadership volunteer roles in multiple PACs and on various committees. I believe I can make a more significant impact as a member of the Tewksbury School Committee.

Do I have children who attend the Tewksbury Public Schools?

Yes. I have three girls: an 8th grader at the Wynn, a 6th grader at the Ryan, and a 4th grader at the Trahan.

What issues are important to me?

Relative to our schools I find these issues to be important:

  • Prioritizing social and emotional learning and supports;

  • Assuring safety measures and mitigation strategies are explored and applied in our schools as we look to increase learning time in-person in school;

  • Adopting proven methods to evaluate and measure student achievement and improve outcomes for all learners;

  • Advocating for open and transparent communication and ongoing use of satisfaction surveys in accordance with district policy;

  • Increasing enrichment and educational opportunities for students to further their learning; and

  • Staff development and satisfaction.

What particular experiences or skills have prepared me to serve on the school committee?

As a volunteer, I have proven my dedication to improving the school experience for all. In return, I have gained insight into and understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges facing our school community. I believe I bring a balanced outlook and have earned the trust of many parents in the district.

Professionally, my 20-plus years of experience as an ER nurse have trained me to listen, weigh options, and examine issues from all points of view before making decisions.

I’ve had the opportunity to participate on hiring/search committees for general and special education educators as well as for a building principal. I participated in the process to open our district's first STEAM lab and coordinated family-focused and districtwide STEAM nights. I was active on the friends of the new school building committee. I am active at the three schools where my children attend and have held PAC positions for many years. I currently participate as a parent member of our district reopening task force, and I am an appointed member and vice chair of the Trahan and North Street Reuse Committee.

Why should I be elected?

I understand the purview, limits, and responsibilities of a School Committee member. I have a proven record of being committed to our schools and dedicating my time and energy to improving the experience for all of our students and families.

What differentiates me from the other candidates and/or current committee members?

We are fortunate to have a diverse group of School Committee members and candidates. I will bring my understanding of our daily school operations to the table. I offer balanced insight into the student, parent, and staff experiences. As noted above, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute on school and town wide committees and am current with policy in our schools.

Is membership on the committee compatible with my present position?

I currently work at MGH as a resource nurse in the Emergency Department. Election to the school committee will not interfere with my position.

Over the past five years I have worked as a school nurse in a substitute capacity in the Tewksbury Public Schools. I would not continue working in this capacity if I am elected.

I serve on several committees in a volunteer capacity. I would resign from most committees to commit myself to the School Committee.

How am I promoting my candidacy?

I have a strategy to get my message to our community through virtual meetups, social engagement, signage, and mailings. That message: I am committed to our public schools. I am a fair and even-minded person. I listen, I work collaboratively, and I will be an asset to our School Board.

As a committee member, if I were faced with making cuts to the budget, where would I look to make those cuts?

Should our district be faced with budget cuts, as a School Committee member, I would first ask, What do we prioritize?

I will be in communication with our Town Manager. I would listen to district and building administrators, department heads, lead teachers, and parents. I will fully understand how any proposed cuts will affect our schools and our learners. I will be a strong advocate for finding additional grant money where possible.

Could I support a committee decision that I did not vote in favor of?

Yes. I respect the process. I have experience working on committees and understand when it’s time to make the best of a decision and pull together as a team. I would expect colleagues to do the same.

What do I believe is the role of a school committee member in relationship to the superintendent? Principals? Teachers and support personnel?

From a practical standpoint, Massachusetts asks local school committees to perform three functions:

  • Hire, terminate and evaluate the superintendent. My experience on hiring committees provides insight into what makes for a successful candidate.

  • Annually approve the budget. My experience in mediating the needs of various constituencies enables me to weigh competing priorities.

  • Write policies that guide and drive procedures within our schools.

My experience in how policies play out “on the ground” in classrooms provides critical perspective.

Do I have any personal connections that may lead to a conflict of interest?

No.

As a school committee member, what kind of communication do I want with the TTA?

Open, honest, professional, respectful, fair, timely, and consistent communication.

What is my position on employee salaries in our district? What can be done to improve salaries and make them more competitive?

I recognize that competitive salaries keep good teachers in our district. Through the process of collective bargaining, inequities with other districts can be addressed.

What are my thoughts on the district’s programs for special education students, English language learners and gifted students?

I will support structuring the general education curriculum to support learners of all abilities and continue Tewksbury’s success in assisting teachers with differentiated learning support.

What is my level of knowledge on out of district placements and high needs populations?

In my role in the schools, specifically in the health office, I have experience in supporting staff and the families of some of our high-needs students. I understand the supports that are required to have success in the classroom. I’ve talked with many families over the years that have been faced with and made the decision to have their children placed out of district.

How can the School Committee be accessible to the community including the teachers?

I would advocate that:

  • The town examine and potentially improve the call-in capabilities at School Committee meetings;

  • committee members commit to being responsive and transparent in communicating by email and phone; and

  • Members consider offering office hours if there is interest.

How do I view high stakes testing? What are my concerns regarding student achievement?

I recognize the value in using objective data to assess student achievement. I think this year it is a priority to give attention to reflecting on individual student outcomes.

What changes would I like to see in our district?

I would like to see more formalized social-emotional learning (SEL) programming across the district, with staff and teachers receiving continuing education on how to utilize and integrate SEL programming in their practices. This would be enhanced with communication with students and families to increase awareness of the benefits of the SEL resources in our schools.

How do I feel about the Redmen mascot and do I support changing it?

When our town had the opportunity to speak collectively to this issue, I was in the minority in speaking in support of changing the mascot. Currently, use of Native mascots is at the state legislative level for review. It is not my intention, nor is it my agenda, to revisit this issue if elected to the school committee.

What changes should be made on the state/local level regarding public education?

As a School Committee member I would be more focused locally.

On the State level, I would like to see improvements made to provide districts better tools to measure student outcomes; specifically, making them more equitable and able to generate a complete and nuanced picture of a student’s academic, social, and emotional wellbeing.

How would I handle individual requests or favors from special interest groups?

I would follow the Conflict of Interest policy issued by the state.

What is my vision for education in this community?

I am proud of the education that our kids in Tewksbury are currently receiving in their classrooms. Many of our teachers are innovative, dynamic, and holistic educators. I would urge our district to adopt these best practices that are already being applied as district goals.

Tewksbury has the potential to lead in educational practices amongst our local communities, with intentional proactive versus reactive approaches to change.

In what ways am I committed to growing my knowledge of current educational practices to support this position?

I am an educationally curious person. I follow the Mass. Department of Education guidelines and recommendations, and I will continue to ask questions, seek understanding, and be open to opportunities to learn more about practices within and outside of our district.

Questions? Email me at Garabedian4Tewksbury@gmail.com