Running forWard 7 Board of School Committee
Running as Non-Partisan Election
I am a first-term school board member with 5 years of experience working in Manchester schools with City Year. I coached City Year’s tutors and mentors, collaborated with teachers and administrators, and facilitated professional development. I’m also an Episcopal deacon and grassroots community organizer. My goal is to strengthen Manchester’s future by preparing our students for lifelong professional success and engaged citizenship.
I've been on the school board since 2022, serving on the Facilities & Finance and Student Conduct committees.
Current jobI am the community engagement manager for City Year New Hampshire. I recruit idealistic, service-oriented young people to do a year of service in Manchester schools, lead some of their professional development, and make community connections to support our corps members and the Manchester community.
I led teams of full-time volunteer role models and tutors for five years in Manchester schools as part of City Year. Americorps Members I trained and directed used individualized learning objectives to get students up to proficiency in literacy and math. They developed positive relationships with students and also gave coaching in attendance and socio-emotional skills.
I left City Year in 2019 to work as a community organizer, developing grassroots leaders to address issues in their lives, such as housing and environmental degradation.
Time lived in NHI moved to Manchester to be in City Year in 2012, right after college. I've found a home and community that I love here.
I have a degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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Why are you running for this office?
We’ve made excellent progress in my first term. We’re closing opportunity gaps, operating under a responsible budget, and filling staff vacancies that affect student outcomes. However, much of that work is ongoing and needs continued initiative and accountability, so I’m humbly requesting my Ward 7 neighbors vote to return me to the Board for one more term.
What qualifies you as the best candidate for this office?
Having worked directly with our students, I care deeply about their futures. The future of their individual lives and our city is affected by the quality of our schools today, and I will always put students first. I have the right values–equity, community, integrity, service–and experience to guide our school district in the right direction, and the relationships and knowledge built over my first term to do it effectively.
What are your thoughts on the Manchester School District's relationship to city government?What candidates running for office in Manchester for races (other than your own) do you support?
When I imagine Manchester in 2050, it will be thriving if our students learn strong academic and life skills today. We need our schools to overcome our students’ barriers to success to have the clean, safe, and prosperous city we all want. The current School Board has pursued this goal with a balanced, responsible budget. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen has been supportive and approved additional funds when they come from the State. I do not see the need for a change to the Charter now. But, if a time comes when the BMA is preventing our students’ growth and success, I would eagerly fight for any changes necessary.
What are your thoughts and plans for the number of public schools needed in Manchester (with breakdown of elementary/middle/high schools in that number?)
Superintendent Gillis’ 12 elementary school, 4 middle school, and 3 high school model is based on sound analysis of demographic trends and space requirements. In the current facilities process, I have my eye on several things, including (1) ensuring interest payments on debt do not limit future operating budget needs, (2) facilities’ suitability for competency based education and a community schools model, and (3) ensuring Ward 7 and Center City are not underserved.
What are your thoughts/plans on improving grade-level proficiency scores?
Filling staff vacancies for teachers, paras, and interventionists will help us give students the individualized instruction they need to get back on grade level. It’s tough in this labor market, but I’m holding the administration accountable to it at every meeting. Second, we need to make sure kids are prepared to learn. Even the best reading lesson won’t do much for a student who’s absent, hungry, or has a toothache. A community schools model where services like nutrition, health care, and social work are offered in the building can ensure students get the most from the school day, and it also engages family at the school building. We’re already doing this with the city agencies and community partners like Amoskeag Health, and I’m always looking for how to expand our student services.
How would you address student equity?
This is a major issue in our schools and a priority of mine to address. The District has ongoing inequity affecting English Language Learners (about 2,000 or 1-in-6 of our students!), special education students, and students from historically marginalized groups, including students of color and students in poverty. In the current term, we have formed a Multilingual Advisory Committee, replaced the ineffective ELL director, hired bilingual family liaisons, and formed student groups to promote student voice. We also allocated funding for an external group to provide professional development to staff to reduce incidents of discrimination. Finally, filling staff vacancies will improve outcomes for special ed students whose required services are currently not being provided. This is exactly the ongoing work that I hope to continue in my second term. It’s critical to Manchester’s future that *every* student develop their full potential.
What are your thoughts on extra-curricular offerings in Manchester public schools?
Manchester has many extra-curricular offerings such as athletics and programs offered by community partners. The current Board has expanded and improved Athletics, including beginning new programs as the middle school level, such as wrestling.
What are your thoughts on per-pupil expenditures/costs per student?
Manchester spends one of the lowest amounts per pupil in the state. Other things being equal, this is good, but the truth is that it’s inadequate to meet students’ needs. The ideal is to ensure every student can grow into their full potential and to do it with no waste. Additional funding is needed to address unhealthy and outdated facilities, attract and retain our best teachers, and bring down class sizes. However, additional funding should come from the State, not local property taxes. The State’s adequacy funding is no where near adequate, which is unconstitutional, and this issue is currently the subject of litigation and advocacy.
What are your thoughts on attracting and retaining high quality Manchester School District staff?
What are your thoughts on the Manchester School District's relationship with private schools, charter schools and other school districts that have tuition agreements with Manchester?
Manchester is uniquely positioned to offer magnet programs, such as for career and technical education, dual language instruction, and for deaf/hard of hearing students. These programs should be supported and expanded to offer our students more choice and attract tuition-paying students from neighboring towns.
What are your thoughts on and plans on school safety?
The District received a multi-million dollar grant to improve school safety this year and construction had already begun to secure points of entry and emergency communications. Other improvements and plans are confidential, but please know that this is a priority for the Board to which the administration has been very responsive. It’s a matter I hear from constituents about and always respond by taking action.
What are your thoughts on and/or plans for addressing remote learning/other uses of technology in local education?
Remote learning and in-class screen time is inferior to instruction from a teacher and especially small-group, individualized instruction from a teacher. However, remote learning does have a role on snow days, for example.
What are your thoughts on or plans for addressing vocational and career-focused educational initiative?
Career and Technical Education should be a priority in the District as it gives students choice and financial security, and it helps our local economy, which is short-staffed in career paths as diverse as nursing, early childhood education, and welding. The District can and should do more to support MST. I will be advocating for stronger CTE offerings as a new high school is discussed.
What are your thoughts on as well as plans for addressing issues and costs related to Special Education/IEPs?
It is our legal and moral responsibility to provide every student with an adequate education. IEPs need to be created accurately and with engagement from families. When services are necessary, they must be provided, which requires filling staff vacancies, especially for paras. When services are unnecessary, they should be eliminated to free up funding. We recently hired a new Student Services Director who is taking a fresh look at existing IEPs with exactly this purpose.