School Committee Candidate Q&A: Julie McMahon

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School Committee candidate Julie McMahon.

School Committee candidate Julie McMahon.

Julie McMahon is running for reelection to the School Committee. The Watertown Election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

1) What inspired you to run for School Committee?

Originally, I made the decision to run for school committee 4 years ago. I have a strong commitment, dedication and interest in education. My degree is in early childhood education.

I am a parent, I have two children. My oldest son Cody just graduated from Watertown High School and went on to UNE and my daughter Cali is currently a Sophomore. I have had the opportunity to have children in Watertown elementary, middle school and high school. This allowed me to see both the successes and challenges our district faces at each level.

I had been involved in PTO as an active member and president. I have owned and operated Caterpillars to Butterflies Preschool in Watertown for the past 16 years so I have sent hundreds of children into our education system.

All of these experiences led me to the following conclusions. I believe our greatest resource are our teachers, that our schools need strong and consistent leadership and that the schools need to be funded at the highest level possible. I realized all the things I felt were really important were the issues the Watertown schools were struggling with.

Our teachers did not have contracts, our leadership was not consistent, and our schools were definitely underfunded. Hoping to make a positive change I decided to run for school committee. During the last 4 years I saw these things get accomplished and many other wonderful things happen in Watertown Public Schools. This is why I’m continually inspired to run again and see all the magnificent things waiting ahead of us.

2) What do you see as the biggest issue for the Watertown Public Schools and why?

The biggest issues I think we face are continued support, unity and opportunities.

We need to make sure we are supporting our children on every level. Academically: classrooms that provide the best learning environment for each child in it. Socially: that are schools are supporting a culture of acceptance and safety. Guidance: That our guidance department has the ability to listen to our kids and help them figure out whats best for them. Support for our instructional assistants, teachers, administrators and superintendent. Listen to them they know what they need for successful schools.

Create policies that always support the best interest of the children. Support our families as they support our schools.Support our secretaries, food service, janitors, all the people who make our schools work.

Unity: Continue to work together, respectfully and unified with the town council to be sure all the wonderful things that are happening keep moving forward. So many amazing things have started. We need to be certain that the funding for these programs continues.

Opportunities: Provide all of our children with the greatest opportunities,among them;camp sunshine, work study, global citizenship, sports,music, art, life skills, food service, drama, foreign languages, continuation of engineering, fab lab, writing labs, math labs, science, technology, internet access, air-conditioned upgraded buildings or new buildings (high school).

3) While schools are your focus, working with the Town Council and town administration is also part of the job. What would you do to have a good relationship with people on the Town side?

I believe there has been a lot of relationship building between the Town Council, administrators, teachers and the School Committee. I think we have spent time listening to each other and seeing issues from all points of views. This was clear during the last budget presentation. I believe its important to treat each other with mutual respect so we can move forward with the best results.

4) What is your opinion of the Common Core standards, and how much do you think they should play a role in shaping education in Watertown?

I don’t feel common core standards are the right choice for our education system. I think it adds unnecessary struggle, confusion and anxiety to our children, parents and teachers. These are not the qualities that I believe make for engaged, enthusiastic, inquisitive, life-long learners. I disagree with standardized tests as I feel they are only beneficial as a evaluation tool. They are not at all reflective of the teachers abilities and are most importantly are no indicator of a students future success.

5) Tell us about yourself – your family, background and qualifications to be a School Committee member.

My husband and I are lifelong residents of Watertown. We both attended Watertown public schools from kindergarten and graduated Watertown high School class of 1984. My mom, my in-laws, both my sisters (one of whom was a special ed student), my three brothers-in-law, one sister-in-law and now my own son are all WHS alums. My daughter is currently a sophomore at WHS. My two nieces are juniors at WHS.

My preschool has allowed me the pleasure of meeting families for the past 16 years, with children that we send off into the public schools, my God, children are currently in elementary school.

My children have been able to be part of middle and high school sports, My son has been to Camp Sunshine and part of the careers in medicine youth leadership forum.

I have been involved in PTO at every level. The elementary, WHS all-night party and l even had the honor of being the PTO president at Watertown Middle School. I have a lot invested in our schools. My family has been involved in watertown youth sports, the Watertown Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Watertown Children’s Theatre, dance classes, musical instruments, Boy Scouts, Watertown Recreation programs, dance, Relay for Life and countless other community programs, I have a lot invested in our Watertown community.

All of these experiences have given me a great opportunity to meet children and families. I have made lifelong friendships. I have the unique ability to check in with the kids to see what our schools are during right and what we may still need to work on. I am grateful they are glad to share their insight.

The things I think make me a good School Committee member are: I don’t have any specific agenda, I don’t want to micro manage, I know I don’t have all the answers but will try to help you find the answers, I am a good listener, I work well will others, I treat everyone with respect, I have learnt patience, I support our children, teachers, administrators and superintendent. I feel the schools are in a better place then they were 4 years ago. I believe I always act in best interest of Watertown’s children. Positive things happen when you act in a positive way.

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