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Here are the candidates running for Lynn School Committee

Name: Brian Castellanos  

Occupation: Licensed Adolescent Social Worker for the Department of Children and Families 

EducationLynn English High School, Class of 2009; Framingham State University, Bachelor’s degree in criminology; Salem State University, Master’s degree

How long have you served?
One term (2 years) 

What is the most important issue facing the schools and how would you address it?
I would like to see our district continue to promote social-emotional learning, proper nutrition for students and to ensure our staff are well-equipped with the necessary tools and resources. The need has caused a tremendous strain in the lives of many students. Locating and delivering available resources to the city’s education system and families who are involved with human services is vital to reaching full social-emotional learning goals. Establishing effective partnerships would impact equity and the supply of educational resources. Trauma-informed practices and desired professional development opportunities should be available for our LPS workforce. 

What three issues are most important to you? 

  1. Addressing Social-emotional learning needs
  2. Overcrowding and a capital plan to build new schools
  3. Expanding partnerships and grant development to attain additional resources and funding 

What is your biggest accomplishment during your time in office?
I would have to highlight the work that has been conducted to enhance and improve our social-emotional learning programming and curriculum. I worked to ensure that our district was emphasizing student voice and working to expand direct SEL programming to Lynn Public Schools students. We now have a newly updated K-5 social-emotional learning curriculum. I advocated to add additional social workers and personnel to improve our district’s SEL needs. I contributed to the superintendent’s district-wide strategic plan, a collaboration with state agencies, community partners and stakeholders. I connected and advocated to prioritize social-emotional learning initiatives in that plan. 

Why are you running?
I am running because I believe in the Lynn Public Schools. My appreciation for the district comes from a grateful and humbling high school experience. I was a direct consumer of social-emotional services delivered by the district. I was exposed to childhood traumas and extreme poverty as an adolescent. At 13, my mother would abandon my family due to severe substance abuse issues and her battle with crack cocaine. I was faced with tremendous odds and left broken by an emotionally and physically neglected upbringing. At 17, I lost a brother to cancer and became an unaccompanied youth where I slept out of my car. I was a lost young man who suffered from crippling anxiety and instability. These combinations of hardships were life-threatening but what saved me was the public educator. 

I had a team of public servants who changed the trajectory of my life. They showed me the true meaning of compassion. They empowered me to view my life’s adversities as growth opportunities. I aspire to be that beacon of light for others. 

The passion and dedication our teachers demonstrate on a daily basis is incredible and courageous. LPS provides all students opportunities to gain knowledge and valuable skills that are essential for today’s competitive workforce. 

I have been fortunate enough to learn the true value of public service through my past education, professional, board member and community involvement. 

Why should people vote for you?
I have worked diligently to address the needs of my constituents. Through my work as a child protective social worker, I have been able to work alongside LPS staff and administrators. I have been able to gain perspective and insight of the challenges our educators face. I plan on remaining passionate for the issues we face as a district and to ensure our teachers, students and parents are being rightfully advocated and compensated for. Generating innovative strategies to create, implement and assess effective resources to improve LPS is my priority.

 

Name: Donna Coppola

Occupation: Case Manager of a Teen Parent Program

Education:  Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from UMass Boston, May 1993

How long have you served?
10 Terms

What is the most important issue facing the schools and how would you address it?
Space, age and conditions of school buildings

What three issues are most important to you? 

  1. Space & Building Needs, and new schools in the future
  2. Recruit, support and retain new staff.  As well as support and retain current staff with communication and appropriate staff development.
  3. Improve communication with students’ families and increase parent involvement.

What is your biggest accomplishment during your time in office?
Successful opening of Thurgood Marshall Middle School.  Continued access to ALL students of FREE sports, clubs, band.  Breakfast and lunch program.

Why are you running?
I am running because I know that the success of the Lynn community rests on the success of Lynn Public Schools.

Why should people vote for you?
I have proven to be a strong advocate for students, staff, families and the citizens of Lynn.

 

Name: John Ford

Occupation:  Retired from General Electric and Massachusetts State House

Education: B.S. Sociology (Northeastern University), Masters in Education (Cambridge College).

How long have you served?
18 Years

What is the most important issue facing the schools and how would you address it?
I think that all would agree that it is overcrowding. The most prudent and fiscally sound issue is to build your way out of it with new schools. We have 10 schools that are over 100 years old, one is 99 and another is 98. We are in need of so many schools ASAP, that building cannot happen quickly enough. We must use portable classrooms, and if we do not continue to procrastinate and act now, we can have one at English in the Fall where the student population will reach 2000.

What three issues are most important to you?
School/student safety, educational quality/equality, and addressing the vaping/health issue.

What is your biggest accomplishment during your time in office?
Being on the committee and a close part of the entire MSBA/Marshall process. It was very enlightening going into Boston for the early meetings and being part of the project that delivered a beautiful new school on time and under budget.

Why are you running?
I thoroughly enjoy being on the School Committee. I take the job very seriously and work it every day. My four daughters received a great education from the Lynn School System and I will work to ensure that all Lynn students get the same education. As I stated earlier, we must address the over- crowding issue and reduce class sizes. I am also concerned with the increase in vaping  and the pulmonary health issue associated with it. I want to work for the next two years to see these issues addressed.

Why should people vote for you?
I know that I possess sound common sense decision making. I have over thirty years of business management experience. I have 8 years of constituent service at the Massachusetts State house. I have been trained in dispute resolution and negotiation skills. I have a B.S. in Sociology from Northeastern and a Masters in Education from Cambridge College. I am on the Board of Lynn Stop the Violence and spend time working with kids trying to show them alternatives to bad choices and the value of education. I am a very passionate member of the Committee and know that I am a valuable asset. I ask for one of your votes on November 5th. Thank you.

 

Name: Lorraine Gately

Occupation: Introduction to Engineering Design teacher at St. Mary’s High School, Retired Lynn Public Schools science teacher

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Goddard College, Master’s degree in Education from Cambridge College

How long have you served?
This is my second term.

What’s the important important issue facing the schools and how would you address it?
The most important issue facing our public schools are our school buildings. We need new schools desperately. 

What three issues are most important to you? 

  1. School  buildings
  2. Class sizes, especially in secondary education looking forward to the new structure to the school day for high school students.
  3. After school that include homework help, and enrichment programs. 

What is your biggest accomplishment during your time in office?
My biggest accomplishment this term was to share some ideas on the middle school overcrowding with Dr. Tutwiler which I believe led to the new Discovery Program at LVTI.

Why are you running?
I am running because I have been a highly dedicated teacher for the Lynn Public Schools for 33 years. My love for my students and fellow teachers and staff led me to run for the school committee.

I truly enjoy being their voice on the school committee. I believe we still have a lot to do to improve our schools’ climate and culture.

I would like the opportunity to continue to serve on the committee to see our city get new schools, improve our climate and culture, and reach and teach all of our students .

Basically an excellent school system for all students is what I would like to see in the future. 

Why should people vote for you?
People should vote for me so I can continue to serve them on the school committee and continue to voice their views on the major issues.

Please consider Lorraine Gately: No. 5 on the ballot, for one of your six votes on Nov. 5. 

 

Name: Sandra M. Lopez

Occupation: Interior designer, nurse’s assistant

Education: Attending North Shore Community College, studying psychology with plans to become a social worker

What is the most important issue facing the schools and how would you address it?
One of the problems is the overpopulation at the schools. Some possible solutions are to implement programs that include a meeting with an architect to reevaluate the development of the school, see what solutions we could find to resolve this matter, and look for more possible acres of land for this proposal.

What three issues are most important to you?
Overpopulation of the schools
Budget
Programs for the special kids needs

I propose that we implement more programs to the schools to find possible solutions and set some interviews with the architectectural firm to ask them for possible solutions for the development of school buildings. And for the problem we face with the budget, I propose to speak clearly to the governor to give the actual reality of our community overpopulation and give a good view of the situation our community faces. 

What expertise do you bring to the table?
I worked for the city through the Highlands Coalition. I was the coordinator for the LEAD program in this city for a couple of years. I worked from 2009 to 2015 at KIPP Academy — my role there was in administrative support for the school’s adult program. Part of the time, I was a volunteer. I was a chairperson at LEO Head Start for two years. I volunteered with Sacred Heart Church.

Why are you running?
I am running for all of the people who have needs, struggle to talk and express themselves, for those who need to receive services, for those who face any kind of issues in the school system. I am running because my community needs help and needs to have a mixed School Committee that brings diversity to our community.  And I would like to help all parents with their needs at the school system.

Why should people vote for you?
People need to vote for me because I represent the opportunity for them to be closest to the School Committee and I am going to be their intermediary at the School Committee. I am going to make sure that everybody who comes to meet me goes away with a solution that fits their needs.  

 

Name: Tiffany Magnolia

Occupation: Professor of English/Coordinator of the Honors Program, North Shore Community College

Education: BA in English/Secondary Education Program, St. Michael’s College; MA and PhD in English, Tufts University

What are the most important issues facing the schools, and how would you address it?
Overcrowding and schools in need of repair/replacement are the two biggest issues right now with regards to structural issues in the district.  My daughter’s school has lost their computer room, to make way for a new classroom, and rather than a dedicated library, they have carts in a closet that are wheeled out to the hallway. The physical conditions of the buildings, whether they are holding too many students or in need of deferred maintenance is a city-wide issue, and the solutions are both short and long term.  In the short term, solutions to ease overcrowding like leasing a floor of the new YMCA building and hosting a Middle School Discovery Academy at Lynn Tech should be bolstered by longer term solutions like a strategic plan for building replacement; a process to improve energy efficiency, so that savings can be put into a renovation budget (such as grants for solar or wind and insulation).  The most important issue that isn’t physical is the size of the special education portion of the school budget. While there have been a number of new hires in that department starting this school year, the district needs to make this issue a priority for both staffing and leadership.  

What three issues are most important to you?
Parental involvement, communication, and enrichment are all important issues that are less visible than the above.  Parental involvement, through PTOs, school councils, or even at School Committee is spotty and uneven. School Councils should be operating in all of our schools, as they are a mandated form of parental involvement. In terms of communication, the district’s approach is uneven. There should be clear messaging to parents through a consistent form.  Finally, enrichment is an area on which the district should spend both time and resources. During the elementary years, very little opportunity is offered for, after, or before school enrichment. Something as simple as an open gym before or after school would give younger children the opportunity to build community within the school.  

What expertise do you bring to the table?
I bring over 20 years of educational knowledge and activism to my run.  When I was training to be a high school English teacher, I became very involved with the Coalition for Essential Schools, an educational model teaching the whole student.  Since that time, I have been applying the principles of education as empowerment in my own teaching (at the college level since 1999) and work with the Massachusetts Teacher’s Association. I have worked with K-12 teachers across Essex County in my role as a Political Action Coordinator for the MTA.

Why are you running?
I am running to be a parent voice on the Committee.  As a candidate coming from the perspective of Higher Education, I see many of the paths students from LPS are taking (remember that a lot of what we call vocational education today requires credentialing after high school, so I see those students!).  And finally, I have a sense of what our neighbors in other districts are doing that we might emulate.  

Why should people vote for you?
I have a deep educational bench already, and I have a demonstrated passion for this kind of work.  I have never run for any public office before, and I have always worked in teaching others how to advocate for themselves.  I am running for the first time to do this kind of work on a larger scale.

 

Name: Jared Nicholson

Occupation: Law Professor at Northeastern University

Education: Harvard Law School, Princeton University (majored in public policy with a focus on education policy)

How long have you served?
Two terms

What is the most important issue facing the schools, and how would you address it?
Overcrowding and the physical state of our schools continues to be our most pressing issue. We have amazing teachers, but rising class sizes make it harder for teachers to teach and students to learn. 

We are advocating that the state overhaul its school funding formula and for help from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. We are innovating by adding a new 8th grade option at Lynn Tech and looking to outside partners to find more pre-K classrooms. We need to build on this advocacy and innovation to meet our pressing space needs.

What three issues are most important to you?
1) Building Pathways for Students to College and Jobs: There is unfulfilled potential of our young people who end up struggling and jobs in our economy that go unfilled come at great cost. We can help bridge those gaps by showing students different paths to getting a job in fields that we know are hiring. 

There are several examples of recent progress on this issue, from early college to a new HVAC shop at LVTI to middle school vocational opportunities. Please visit my website, www.jarednicholson.org, for more on this and other issues.

2) Developing Students’ Social-Emotional Skills

Another top priority is developing students’ social emotional skills. Poverty and discrimination have steep social and emotional costs that our kids carry. And to thrive in today’s job market, all students need to come prepared with the right soft skills.

Teachers have always known that social emotional learning is important. This year, we have given teachers more tools with a new comprehensive, evidence-based K-5 social emotional curriculum. Next, we will oversee the curriculum’s rollout and professional development, get feedback from the LPS community and move to the higher grades.

3) Offering More Activities After School

We all know the value of meaningful activities after school. I have worked on bringing wrestling to Lynn for several years and helped start a team at the middle school and high school varsity level. The new LPS teams continue to grow, with record numbers last year.

We are adding other opportunities too, including girls lacrosse. Our “STEAM” (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) extracurriculars are more and more connected to what’s going on around the city. 

What is your biggest accomplishment during your time in office?
I have been focused on building pathways for students to college and jobs. A couple of years ago we started the Technical Afterschool Program, a program for students around the district to learn job skills at Lynn Tech. 

I asked the team at Lynn Tech if we could offer any programs to students at the other high schools who might be interested in vocational training. Lynn Tech Guidance Counselor Brian O’Connell designed and launched a program that exceeded my expectations. 

Why are you running?
I’m running for reelection because I am passionate about public education and its importance to my family and to our community. 

My wife and I want to send our kids to great public schools.

Why should people vote for you?
First, I believe that people should vote for me because I continue to bring a fresh perspective and a record of leadership and achieving results. I am working with my colleagues on an overhaul of the entire suite of policies of the Lynn Public Schools. 

 

Name: Michael Anthony Satterwhite

Occupation: Attorney & Broker

Education: Harrington, Ingalls, Fallon (Elementary); Breed, Pickering (Middle School); Classical, English, McArthur (High School). Associates of Science (NSCC), Bachelors of Liberal Arts (UML), and Juris Doctor (MSL).

How long have you served?
I have served on the School Committee for the past two years.

What is the most important issue facing the schools and how would you address it?
We have more than one “most important” issue facing our schools. We need the proper tools, in the proper environments, for our educators and students. We must correct our space issue and overcrowding, which is caused by unfunded mandates from our state. All children must have the opportunity to reach their full potential. We have plans to temporary correct the space issue, with purchasing some portable classrooms and renting space at ADA and ISD approved spaces throughout the city. We are providing more direct services to our students and hiring more educators. Investing more than ever directly in our educators and students.

What three issues are most important to you?
Student achievement, Special Education and Community Partnerships.

What is your biggest accomplishment during your time in office?
I have kept families and the community informed with information on Lynn Public Schools. I have answered every call and email. I have been active as the chairman of the Negotiation Subcommittee working with LPS unions. Finally, I have been on the interview committee for some of the most important position in the District.

Why are you running?
Everyone has trials and tribulations, some more than others, but as a true Lynn kid the struggle and hunger motivated me to be the man I am today and I wouldn’t change one thing. I would like to change this struggle for our future Lynn students and teach them that just getting over the hump is just that, and there are valleys and mountains to explore that will mold their own journey in life. It is about enhancing the voices of the people that have been silent for too long.

Why should people vote for you?
I was never a follower, no matter the fad or faction.  These days following is praised with social media, and I get that with technology, but there is a misconception that translates into real life and we need a generation of leaders that can comprehend the difference. I listen more than I talk and that is missing in today’s politics.

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