That's me with my family out in California last year. I am so thankful for their undying support and love they give me in all of my endeavors. They make me into the best person I can be and I am forever grateful.
My family and I have lived here in Lexington in the same house for 23 years. My wife, Michele, and I have two daughters who have gone through the Lexington Public Schools from Bridge to Clarke to LHS. I was an at-home dad for seven years and then taught preschool for thirteen years at Hancock Nursery School here in town, helping children succeed in their first school experience.
This is why serving on the School Committee is right up my alley. Giving our children what they need to succeed is vital. As a teacher, a town meeting member, and a youth organizer, I have been driven to support families in helping their children succeed – to learn and grow and become well-rounded participants in our community. I’m a detail-oriented team player who will hit the ground running to serve the needs of kids and our town, always seeking out diverse points of view before making an informed decision.
And we have many decisions and issues facing us— growing enrollments, the logistics of replacing the high school, reducing student stress, and addressing diversity and inclusion concerns to name just a few. It can seem daunting, but I don’t look at it that way. As a town, we are starting a journey full of challenges, giving us the opportunity to come together and achieve something great. I want to be a part of the answer and work with the new superintendent to propel our children, our schools, and our community forward into a strong future. The solutions are out there.
I look forward to meeting you around Lexington and earning your support.
I've lived in Lexington for 23 years. And in that time I have had many opportunities to get involved with the town and its residents. Take a look below and see what I've been up to.
TOWN MEETING MEMBER
I've been a Town Meeting Member representing Precinct 9 since 2015, as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the Lexington Town Meeting Members Association (TMMA). Currently, I am also the Clerk of the TMMA.
HANCOCK NURSERY SCHOOL
I began my thirteen-year teaching career as an assistant teacher at Hancock Nursery School in 2001. By 2004, I was a lead teacher, known as Mr. B. to the Hancock community. Playing an integral part of a young child's development is so rewarding; I would like to continue doing this for kids from pre-K all the way through high school.
I started staying home with my one-year old when we first moved to Lexington. During my tour of duty, I started a Boston-area at-home dad playgroup, taught a class on how to be an at-home dad, and wrote a column for a dad magazine. I so enjoyed being home for my two girls; I wouldn't have traded it for anything.
I got involved with LexFUN! in 1997 when it was called the Lexington Preschool PTA. I was Secretary of the organization from 1998--2000 and then became President from 2000--2002. The numerous events and gatherings that we organized for children and parents continue to this day to bring joy to Lexington's families.
LEXINGTON YOUTH SUMMER THEATRE
For years every summer, the Lexington Youth Summer Theatre (LYST) put on a musical with the kids on stage and their parents behind the scenes (sets, costumes, concessions, etc.) with the proceeds going to charity. My family was involved with this for eight years. I was on the Board of Directors and was the Producer/Parent Coordinator from 2008 to 2011, bringing 5 productions to fruition.
Editor of the Bridge Elementary School Weekly Newsletter 2003--2007
Editor of the Lexington High School Directory 2009--2011
Copy Editor for the Lexington Annual Report 2009-2011
Lexington Delegate to the 2018 Democratic State Convention
Currently, I work as a legal assistant at The Law Firm of Scott D. Goldberg, P.C. I have worked with Attorney Goldberg since 2014, focusing on personal injury cases from claim to settlement and delving into litigation if necessary.
I'd be remiss if I didn't give you my educational background. I graduated from Duke University with a BA in Philosophy in 1987. I earned an MFA in Film from Northwestern in 1988. Then in 2004, I went back to school and received an Early Childhood Education Certificate from Middlesex Community College.
There are people who make lists and those who don't. I am a list person. And below is the beginning of my list of issues we will have to face in Lexington with regard to our schools. It is not a complete list; it's a work in progress. Read it over, send me your thoughts, and even send me other issues that you think should be on the list.
As we've seen and known for years, our schools are getting quite crowded. Enrollment studies have shown that this trend is going to continue. The key is to prepare for this now, which the School Committee, the Director of Planning and Assessment, and the Enrollment Advisory Group are already doing. When the new Hastings and the new Lexington Children’s Place come online, additional space will become available, but districts will have to be changed or fine-tuned and creative solutions will have to be employed to evenly spread the enrollment.
I saw the stress creep into my daughters’ lives as they reached the high school. Students, parents, counselors, and educators all notice it and know that it must be addressed. But before real solutions can be applied, we’ve got to have a town-wide discussion about it. We’ve built a strong educational system in Lexington, but the stress that accompanies it is not allowing our kids to reach their full potential. School should be challenging but not so competitive that our children’s mental health is threatened.
Approximately 20% of Lexington residents are enrolled in the Lexington Public Schools, which has a budget that is over 70% of the town's general revenue. I don’t know if that is a perfect ratio, but it is a part of a bigger conversation we need to have. How important is it to fund the high standards of a Lexington education? As a Town Meeting Member, I have seen that this is an issue that’s always on the table. I feel that it is essential to get good value out of our educational programs and buildings as well as make sure that the community is supportive.
Lexington Public Schools have participated in the METCO Program (Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunities) since 1968. The program, which has over 200 minority children attending LPS, benefits those who live in Boston and students from Lexington. It is a two-way street; both sets of students have the opportunity to learn about cultures, diversity, and friendship. It has often been suggested that cutting the program will help solve our overcrowding issue and save money. However, I firmly believe that it is a good investment and can only help both communities become more inclusive.
Lexington High School
This is the elephant in the room. The high school was originally built in the 1950s. It has been updated and renovated numerous times, but now it is on its last legs. The education that goes on within it is fantastic, but the facility itself is not. The School Committee has already started the process of evaluating our next step. Still, we need an outreach to the public to educate our community on what it will take to get a building that matches the quality of our teachers. The price tag is going to be hefty. And before we budget that huge sum and figure out how it will be paid for, we’d better get the community talking honestly about it.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
What began as an LPS study into why discipline rates were higher for African-American and special education children has morphed into a much bigger issue: how can the Lexington Public Schools better serve the needs of every student and create a more accepting and inclusive environment? Our new superintendent Dr. Julie Hackett started to tackle this issue even before she officially started, the result being this report, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Lexington Public Schools.” I look forward to getting involved with this call-to-action conversation and implementation to make our schools a high-quality and equitable learning experience for all.
While the above-mentioned study on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion focused on the disciplining of special needs children, there may be other aspects of inequality in this population of students at school that have not been adequately addressed, e.g. educational models, classroom inclusion, and disability awareness. With over 1,000 students in the Special Education Department, it is important that we try to understand how to improve upon our academic models, teaching skills, and schools’ social climate.
The New Preschool Building
Last year Town Meeting approved the funding for the design and construction of a new space for Lexington Children’s Place (LCP), which is currently housed in Harrington. This fall they broke ground; it is scheduled to become operational in 2019. Not only does it provide a new preschool space for over 70 young children, with and without disabilities, but it also frees up some classroom space at Harrington. When I taught preschool, I worked with many LCP students and families along with Liz Billings-Fouhy, the director of LCP.
When I was teaching preschool, we were always focused on the child's domains of early learning development:
social and emotional
gross and fine motor
speech and language
approaches toward learning
These domains, although extremely important in a young child, still are developing as the child goes through elementary school thru high school. I believe they can be adapted and applied to any student attending Lexington Public Schools (LPS).
The cognitive domain is the one we all think of when we think of school. It is primary in education--the knowledge learned thru exploring curriculum and using basic academic skills. Taking a look at test scores, MCAS, and college-readiness assessments, LPS does a pretty good job with this domain. Our goal should be to continue our high standard and improve, if possible.
It is in the social and emotional domain that I believe we have the ability to make some changes to actually make it easier for a child to succeed in the cognitive domain. Dealing with student stress and how young people interact during school could help many students become more comfortable in school and succeed in areas that were hindering their development.
The basic gross and fine motor skills should already be in place by elementary school. Handwriting, art projects, playing musical instruments, and climbing on the playground structures--just to name a few. But as the child gets older, more specialized art, music, and sports activities tend to kick in and contribute to this development. At LPS, we should be able to provide many activities for physical growth, from intramurals to varsity sports, from pottery to oil painting, from marching band to jazz ensembles.
The domain of speech and language is all about communication. At the early stages, it is all about learning how to speak and form words to communicate. As a child moves through adolescence and beyond, we should be able to promote vocabulary growth and communication skills so a child is able to communicate ideas as well as feelings to peers and adults, finding voice in the world.
The last domain--approaches toward learning--has to do with how a child learns. Is the student a visual learner? What about auditory learning? Learning by repetition? In small groups? There are many ways a teacher can reach a student, but an educator must be given time to explore which ways work best for which students. An overcrowded classroom with a poor teacher-student ratio prevents a teacher from cultivating a successful student, which can lead to students "falling through the cracks."
In approaching education, I want to be clear that I believe that this domain system can apply to all students at any stage. If a child, for whatever reason, is not flourishing in one of the domains, they should be given as many opportunities as possible to develop those skills and succeed. When we send a child into the world after LPS as a young adult, they should be a well-rounded and proficient person who has nicely developed in all five domains. If we focus only on academics, then we do the child a disservice.