New Waltham High School
Construction of the new Waltham High School is underway. The physical building is being constructed to implement an educational plan that will integrate disciplines, using a project-based approach, to give our students hands-on experiences in preparation for college and career. I will support the work that needs to be done to fully implement the educational plan when we move into the new building. In addition, I will work on long term planning for the existing high school building, as space is needed for the Dual Language School, Central Office and the Parent Information Center.
My ultimate goal is for each and every student to achieve their maximum potential and to graduate college and/or career ready. How we make this happen, is by identifying needs (both individual and systemic), and then offering supports and making changes to meet those needs. An example is Waltham High School’s chronic high drop out and low graduation rate. For several years, I have been involved in conversations with staff about these issues. Often times, our students drop out because of demands outside of school, such as the need to work or childcare. The typical school day hours do not work for these students. I am proud to be a part of a steering committee which has worked to start up an alternative high school (Waltham Opportunity Institute) with flexible hours and credit bearing courses, so that a greater number of our students will be able to graduate with a high school diploma. Older students will also be able to access classes in the Waltham Opportunity Institute, which is being launched this school year. I want to continue my work on the steering committee and to support the growth of this important initiative.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
As a social worker, I have always been interested in a holistic approach to education which focuses on a student’s social, emotional and mental well-being, as well as their academic achievement. When I began my tenure on the Waltham School Committee, I joined the Social Emotional Learning work group. This group has focused on identifying district-wide social emotional learning curriculum and practices, offering support and professional development to educators and bringing SEL to the forefront of our classrooms. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has published an Accelerated Roadmap which emphasizes relationship building and sense of belonging as key factors in the return to schools this fall. I will continue to support this important work.
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