PITTSFIELD – As the Pittsfield school committee says goodbye to two members and welcomes former mayor Sara Hathaway and educator Vicky Smith to the group, parents, educators and district staff ask for more communication and time facing committee members in the New Year.
“I hope this school committee will be more involved in the community and really hear what they have to say – parents and students,” said Melissa Campbell, teacher at Herberg Middle School and president of United Educators of Pittsfield during of an audition. session with Hathaway and Smith at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Wednesday evening.
“Teachers tend to have a voice and we hope we stand up for our parents and families, but it’s really important to really collaborate with people as well,” Campbell said, adding that she felt there was a mismatch between community and district. decision makers.
Hathaway and Smith, who won the committee election in November, said they also felt the distance, noting that the realities of running an election campaign had kept them from knocking on doors or having the chance speak in person to families and district staff. .
During the 1.5-hour listening session, the new committee members took in the pulse of the district, hearing from Campbell and UEP board member and Egremont Elementary teacher Karen McHugh as well as ‘Andrea Schaller, a district parent and Williams Elementary School. Member of the board.
Schaller said she and other parents were looking for advice on when and to whom to raise concerns on topics such as face-to-face learning during the pandemic, reinstating math honors programs in college and fair salaries for district teachers, paraprofessionals and support staff.
Hathaway and Smith said they would consider communicating clearly with families on how to contact school principals, district administrators and the school committee. They also said they would be interested in “meeting people where they are” and visiting schools with students, attending PTO and school council meetings, and organizing others. listening sessions.
Campbell said teachers would strongly support school committee members to increase visits to schools and classrooms and see how students and teachers behave as they navigate a rigid schedule, the tests of the Condition and pressures on performance and the additional stressor of the coronavirus pandemic.
McHugh and Campbell both pushed elected members to advocate for more teacher autonomy to complete the curriculum, focus less on standardization of tests, and create dedicated spaces for students to focus on their skills. socio-emotional.
Campbell said that greater teacher autonomy could be key to the district’s concerns about teacher turnover and the decisions of students and families to attend other school districts.
“We are all here because our main concern is the children of our community; we want to see them grow, be successful and be productive and reach their highest potential, ”said McHugh. “It’s not just a segment of the community that can do this. It must be all of us.