School Committee Candidate Q&A: Kendra Foley

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School Committee candidate Kendra Foley.

School Committee candidate Kendra Foley.

Kendra Foley is running for a seat on the School Committee. The election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

1) What inspired you to run for School Committee?

I am running for School Committee because I value education – for my three young children, for the children and families in Watertown and for the health and vibrancy of our town. Our schools are a reflection of our town – and excellent schools mean a stronger, safer and more vibrant community.

Two years ago, when my oldest child entered kindergarten, I got involved with the schools through the Hosmer PTO and Watertown Strong Schools. The process of advocating for greater investment in our schools by attending School Committee meetings, attending budget and finance subcommittee meetings, and talking to parents, teachers and administrators convinced me to run for School Committee. I want to help make positive changes in our schools, and I believe that it can be done most effectively as a member of the School Committee.

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

I believe the biggest issue for the Watertown Public Schools is maintaining high expectations for every student.

Although the educational process is different for each child, great systems usually have similar characteristics: strong leadership, aligned and rigorous curricula, high quality instruction, parental involvement, and high expectations.

During my years in the WPS, I had a lot of support from my parents and individual teachers who pushed me to succeed, but I often felt that the system did not have high enough expectations of every student.  We owe it to every student and every family to do that.

We can do more to raise academic expectations across our system by both challenging as well as supporting our students. For example, currently, students need 134 credits to graduate. But, taking a full schedule of seven classes per year would earn them 168 credits. We can raise the bar for all our students and for our system.

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?

Working closely with the Town Council and town administration is integral to the success for our schools. Open and honest conversations as well as a transparent budget process will help maintain trust and partnership.

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?

The Common Core standards represent an agreement between 45 states on uniformly high standards for our children and our schools. Massachusetts has a tradition of supporting high standards and played an important role in the creation of them.

The more important question is how do we help our students achieve these high standards. What are our district’s strategies and goals to support our teachers and educate our students? How do we hold our system accountable for our results?

This is the conversation I would like to be part of as a member of the School Committee.

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

I know and love Watertown.  I was born and raised here. I went through the Watertown Public Schools and graduated from Watertown High School in 1995 and Boston College in 1999. My mother, Roberta Miller, was a Town Councilor, and my father, Alan Medville, has been a classroom teacher and a President of the Watertown PTU Council, so I come from a tradition of involvement in the town and the schools.

As a fifth grader teacher for two years through Teach for America, I experienced both how hard and how rewarding it is to be a teacher – and I realized the transformative power of education.

During the Patrick Administration, I served as the chief of staff to the Secretary of Education and I gained important insight into education policy and the impact it can have on the teaching and learning in the classroom.

I am an active member of the Hosmer PTO and a founding member of Watertown Strong Schools.

I live in Watertown with my husband, Tim and our three children, ages 4, 5 and 7. Our two oldest attend the Hosmer Elementary School.

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