Editor’s Note: The following are responses from School Committee incumbent Margaret Donnelly, who is seeking another term in the general election for Tuesday, Nov. 8
The questions were posed by Waltham Patch and the answers have only been edited for clarity and readability. Check out our other election coverage.
Current Employment: I’m a member of the Waltham School Committee.
What is your professional background?: I was a teacher in the City of Marlboro for 36 years. I have a Bachelor of Arts dengree in Psychology from Regis College and a Masters in Education in Guidance from Boston State College. In addition to that, I have 64 graduate credits in educational and administrative areas.
Why are you running for School Committee?:
I am running again because I still see a need for consistency, efficiency and accountability in the system. I can contribute to the schools in many ways. My nearly 16 years of experience is invaluable. I have served with four prior superintendents as the new superintendent, Dr. Susan Nicholson. I have worked with numerous other School Committee members.
Working with people in a team situation is a skill that I have developed over the years. We must work together for the good of the students, staff and schools.
My lifelong love of learning and education is the driving force for my motivation to continue on the School Committee. My experience is an asset and gives me great satisfaction to continue to contribute. Working with administration, staff and parents is very enjoyable. If I can make a positive difference in the academic success of a child, then I feel fulfilled. If I can clarify issues or help parents and staff I also feel fulfilled. If I work to accomplish goals that we have set and fulfill those goals, then I feel fulfilled.
There are times when we need to be agents of change, which is not easy, but if the end result is beneficial then I consider it a success. When I look back at many at the many accomplishments that have been achieved over the last several years, I am proud to have been part of them.
I enjoy the rewards of my service, some of which are:
- Experiencing the many successes and achievements we have had.
- Seeing the students while visiting the schools. You can feel the learning.
- Watching the many dedicated and enthusiastic teachers in action.
- Hearing the parents speak highly of programs, teachers, and schools.
- Supporting and facilitating things that are beneficial to staff and students.
- Being thanked by staff, students, parents and others.
How are your skills useful for representing constituents?:
The skills that I have are useful for representing constituents. I am a diligent worker who always does her homework. We have so much to read and learn. I read educational and professional journals and articles every day both online and in print. We receive many documents prior to each School Committee meeting.
I have a lifelong love of learning and educating others as demonstrated by my professional and personal history. My extensive experience of a career in teaching and 16 years on the School Committee gives me a solid background for this job.
I am a good listener and want to hear all sides of issues in order to make the best decision. Others have found me fair and reasonable. I believe in compromise to reach a goal making it a win-win solution.
I network a great deal in the community and at the state level and have several contacts to call on when the need arises. I use the teamwork approach and work with others who are willing to use that approach. Our constituents are the students, staff, parents and other community members. I am available to them by phone and/or email at all times.
If elected, what issues would be your biggest priority and why?:
A major priority is the renovation of the High School. Now that we have finished the other schools, we must begin a major renovation of that building. We have filed a Statement of Interest with the Massachusetts School Building Authority and will proceed as quickly as the state allows. We will do a feasibility study and also find out what percent reimbursement we will receive from the state. One immediate requirement is updated and larger science labs. This is a multi-year project.
Another priority is to increase the technology that we have as soon as possible. The infrastructure needs updating and the ability to increase capacity. Equipment such as servers, computers need replacement, updating and repair. We need hardware, software and licenses. New equipment needs be purchased such as overhead LCD’s, and Smartboards, which are necessary teaching tools of today. More wireless access points are needed throughout the system. They are presently only at the High School. We need more staff to keep up with the workload. Our schools are very dependent on technology.
Alternative Education is another priority of mine. We need to design and implement a program for students who are not succeeding in the traditional setting. There are some ideas that have been looked at this year but it seems to have stalled. We need to put this on the front burner so that we do not lose students.
We also need to restructure the administration to include human resources as a specialty and we need to continue to look for a highly qualified Director of Special Education.
Why should voters re-elect you when you have already served for several years?
It is not a matter of how many years, but of experience and performance. Education today is a complicated process requiring a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience. Education is a specialty. The School Committee is analogous to a Board of Directors. Working diligently, putting in an enormous amount of time and effort as well as fulfilling all the requirements of the job should be the first reason one would want to vote for an incumbent. Over and above that, going beyond the basic requirements of service is desirable.
I have done a very creditable job for the Waltham Public Schools. I brought my many years of work experience and began my service as if it were a new job. I studied, learned and put this knowledge to good use. In addition to that, I volunteered to serve on many boards and committees that were helpful. It became a full-time job and a new profession for me. My strong work ethic and commitment to the staff and students of Waltham has not gone unnoticed. I received an award from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees for my “dedication to the children and public education of Massachusetts” and was appointed to the All-State Committee.
If re-elected, the Waltham Public Schools, its students and staff that will benefit.