School Committee

School Committee: Beth Anne Cornell

I am the mother of three children, including a fourth grader at the Carlton Elementary School, and I am entering my eleventh straight year as a Salem Public School parent. At Carlton, I have served as PTO Secretary, as a member of the School Council, and on principal and teacher hiring committees. Additionally, I participated as a parent representative on the initial Innovation School proposal. 

Professionally, I am a full professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Wentworth Institute of Technology, where I have taught writing, literature, and humanities courses for almost twenty years. I have been a member of the American Federation of Teachers since 2001.

During my tenure at Wentworth, I have written program curricula, participated in strategic planning, hired university leadership, and managed budgets, in addition to teaching thousands of undergraduate learners, the vast majority of whom have been the products of the Massachusetts Public School system. In addition, in 2014 I was elected by my colleagues to Chair the Faculty Senate.  As Chair I led an initiative to build a university-wide shared governance structure that now includes representation from Wentworth’s Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, and students.

In 2018, I received the university’s President’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Institute.

Why are you running for School Committee and what particular skills can you bring to the position?

I am running for school committee because I believe the hard work and enthusiasm that Salem residents bring to everything we do in this city can be channeled into improving our schools. If we work to establish consistent structures for engaging stakeholders, communicating with the community, and sharing and assessing data, we can create an exceptional school district that challenges and inspires all of our students. 

This means building structures that will outlast individual school committee members and superintendents. It means moving away from reactive decisions-making and toward proactive and informed strategic thinking.

This is where my academic leadership experience can benefit our district. I learned a great deal serving as the Chair of my university’s Faculty Senate.  I learned that I had to do a lot of listening if I was going to understand the experiences of students, faculty, and staff, and that I had to facilitate ground-up communication and communication policies if we were going to hold ourselves accountable to one another. More concretely, I learned how to initiate and assess a strategic plan; how to identify shortcomings and celebrate successes; how to balance data-analysis and best-practices with the lived experiences of community members; and how to build systems of engagement and communication where none existed.   

This is the kind of leadership experience that I will bring to the Salem School Committee. 

If you could make any change in the school budget that was recently passed, what would you change?

What I am most focused on going forward is clarity and transparency in the budgeting process. This past year was the first time principals were offered an opportunity to discuss their school’s proposed budget in a public setting. This effort at transparency should be celebrated and built upon going forward.  In addition, School Committee members must develop consistent mechanisms for assessing the needs of teachers, principals, and the Superintendent.  Again, as with all of our planning and investment opportunities, the budget should be proactive, thoughtful, and rooted in data. 

The district is beginning a search for the next Superintendent. What are three key characteristics you are looking for in the next Superintendent in Salem?

  1. A drive to create a consistent structure for engaging community members, including teachers, parents, students, support personnel, and district partners (the Salem YMCA and Boys and Girls Club, for example).  In order for the district to improve, we must put in place a consistent structure for collecting information and assessing data. 

  2. A sense of urgency with regard to establishing clear and consistent communication throughout the district. This includes guiding school leaders on effective communication techniques, leveraging existing technologies to improve communication with students and families, and advocating for the resources necessary to improve communication district-wide.

  3. A focus on teacher retention and morale.  Teachers throughout the district need to be supported, engaged, and celebrated. It is the Superintendent’s responsibility to develop a culture in which teachers are encouraged to communicate with district leaders about their challenges and successes, and in which teacher expertise are respected by principals and district leaders.

 
What will you do to advance the goals of a more equitable education for all students in Salem?

In education, equity means giving every student the support they need to succeed. In my twenty years as an educator, I’ve learned through professional development and personal experience that when it comes to the classroom, equity is about inclusion. It’s about celebrating the unique identities of the students in the room and creating a safe place in which to learn. Equity is also about fairness and access, providing each student with the tools they need to succeed, with special attention to students with social, economic, physical, cognitive, or language challenges.

 It is the role of the School Committee to fund and assess the structures, curricula, and personnel that support equity. Where I can be most effective is in calling for consistent community engagement and continuous assessment of district strategies for achieving equity. 

We must be strategic and research- and data-driven in how we approach equity. But we must also be personal and inclusive. As a School Committee member, I will advocate to establish clear mechanisms for researching best practices and for the continuous assessment of student data and district strategies. For these mechanisms to work, they must continuously engage diverse stakeholders including teachers, parents, students, and community partners. The School Committee and Superintendent—regardless of who holds those offices— need continuous community engagement in order to effectively fund and support equity initiatives.

 

 

School Committee: Kristin Pangallo

I am the mother of two Bates elementary students and a chemistry professor at Salem State University. I earned a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Bates College and my Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography from the MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science & Engineering. Following that, I completed post-doctoral work in toxicology at Rutgers University.

I taught in an adjunct capacity at Boston College and North Shore Community College before starting an appointment as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Colgate University. In 2013, I joined the Salem State University faculty as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and I have taught there ever since. Many of my students are graduates of Salem's public schools.

I served on the City of Salem's Renewable Energy Task Force, today called the Sustainability, Resiliency, and Energy Committee. At SSU, I serve on the Academic Policies Committee and as a Bates Elementary School parent I have served on the Bates School Council.

As a faculty member at Salem State, I have my college students conduct water quality experiments with students from the Horace Mann Laboratory School. I have volunteered for STEM career counseling and science demonstrations at the Collins Middle School and the New Liberty Innovation School, and I've brought hands-on science activities into classes at Bates Elementary School.

Why are you running for School Committee and what particular skills can you bring to the position?

I am a parent, educator and a scientist. I am running for School Committee because this combination provides me with a unique perspective of our district. As the parent of two Salem elementary school students, I am invested in this district and the challenges that we face. As the professor of graduates from the district, I am very familiar with the successes of our graduates and with some of the challenges that we have yet to remedy. As a scientist I will use evidence to examine the policies and ideas brought before the committee. Just as I do in my academic work, I will always seek to constructively improve our district - both in what we are doing well and where we need to improve.

If you could make any change in the school budget that was recently passed, what would you change?

My most immediate concern surrounds how funding is allocated to the different schools for their supplies. This seemingly small line item can represent an enormous burden to our teachers and families - if schools are not adequately funding their classroom supply budgets, then supplies must be purchased by the teacher or the families of the school. School supply lists for this fall contain items such as ’tissues’ and ’soap’; it is inappropriate and potentially a health-risk for these essential items to be requested from families rather than provided by the district. This problem is also symptomatic of our district’s larger challenges of leadership, organization and communication. Requests like this are inappropriate and demonstrate a breakdown of the budgetary process.

The district is beginning a search for the next Superintendent. What are three key characteristics you are looking for in the next Superintendent in Salem?

We must find a strong leader whose experience and characteristics match our needs as a district. As an SSU faculty member who has served on faculty hiring committees, I recognize that when hiring it is essential that the committee has an excellent understanding of the requirements of the job. Not just a list of responsibilities, but a day-to-day understanding of what the challenges of the job entails. Thus, in order to hire an excellent superintendent I am looking for these three things out of the process:

  1. The hiring committee should include a current or former Superintendent from a neighboring or comparable district. This person will be able to provide insight into the day-to-day details and intricacies of running a school district that cannot be provided than anyone else.

  2. The candidate must have a vision for the district that aligns with our community’s strengths and challenges, and have a practical plan for how to achieve the goals that they envision.

  3. The candidate must have the experience to support the agenda that they lay out to accomplish their goals for the district.

What will you do to advance the goals of a more equitable education for all students in Salem?

We must examine the current programs in place and evaluate them based on evidence. When we establish that a policy or program is succeeding, we should amplify it so that all students have the ability to access it. When our School Committee is discussing important issues and votes, we should ensure that even those families who lack the means, access, or affluence to be able to attend a Monday evening meeting at 7pm have an equal opportunity to be heard and respected.

We must ensure that every student - no matter what their language of upbringing, their gender identity, their nation of origin, their skin color - every student, has the same opportunities, education, and resources as their peers. This requires continual education and training not only for our students, but for our faculty and staff through practical and informative professional development. Finally, we must ensure that our curriculum provides the support required for all students to find the opportunity to succeed, as well as to provide challenging material required for our students to achieve excellence.

School Committee: Donna Fritz

  • Grew up in Peabody and graduated from Peabody High, class of 1993

  • Bachelor’s degree from Clemson University, class of 1997

  • Moved to Salem and married Mike Fritz in 2001, a Salem native and SHS graduate, class of 1990

  • Program Director at Germaine Lawrence Inc., a residential treatment center for troubled teenage girls, for 8 years

  • Currently, a part-time employee of Hamilton Hall, a National Historic Landmark on Chestnut St. in Salem. 

Why are you running for School Committee and what particular skills can you bring to the position?

I have been an involved PTO parent for 9 yrs.  I have developed positive and trusting relationships with parents and teachers and have been attending school committee meetings for the last few years.  I work part-time and will have the time to visit the schools during the day, inform the committee about every day parent and teacher concerns and have a pulse on what the parents need to know and when. I have worked closely with principals at WHES & CMS to plan information nights and discussed policies, such as, a cell phone policy. I have been a Program Director at a Residential Treatment Facility for trouble teenage girls and the president for two different board of directors. I believe my leadership, project management and meeting facilitation skills will be an asset to the school committee.  

If you could make any change in the school budget that was recently passed, what would you change?

I am concerned about the student behavior in our classrooms and would like to see specific money put toward trained behavior specialists and PD that is focused on managing acting out behavior in the classroom. I would like to re-evaluate the number of administrative positions we have and see if we can increase the number of positions that work directly with students.

The district is beginning a search for the next Superintendent. What are three key characteristics you are looking for in the next Superintendent in Salem?

  1. Leadership skills- we need a leader who will be able to set a vision for our school district, communicate that vision and assist our administrators, school committee, teachers and families to work towards that common goal.

  2. Experience working in an urban district- we are an amazing city meeting the needs of students from all over the world, supporting students with all types of social emotional challenges and physical disabilities.  We also have average learners who can get overlooked.  An understanding of how to work with and communicate with all of these families as well as support the staff who are working with students is a vital role the next superintendent will face. 

  3. Excellent budget management skills-someone who understands how to back our programs with a budget that will work and avoid unnecessary spending. For example, we have changed curriculums several times in recent years. This seemed like a waste of money and created frustration for teachers. 

What will you do to advance the goals of a more equitable education for all students in Salem?

  1. Strive for an equitable budget

  2. Programs with a focus on reaching all learners

  3. One of my biggest concerns is teacher and administration retention. I believe if we have a school system where teachers are well trained, and rewarded for the work that they do, all of our students will benefit from a better education.