The two School Committee members who served their last meeting on Monday may have only served one term, but their colleagues made it clear they will be greatly missed.
Julie McMahon and Michael Shepard have made some major contributions over their four years on the board, said School Committee Chairwoman Eileen Hsu-Balzer.
“Julie is enthusiastic, insightful and empathetic. She does the difficult work behind the scene and lets others have the face time,” Hsu-Balzer said. “Mike is a relentless worker on the Building and Grounds and Budget and Finance subcommittees. His expertise on financial matters and knowledge and sensitivity for special education has been invaluable and I have also benefited from his wicked sense of humor.”
School Committee member Guido Guidotti said Shepard went to the mat for the Watertown Schools.
“He fought for more special education staff and funding, and he played an integral roll in securing the biggest year over year school funding increase,” Guidotti said.
Elizabeth Yusem said her colleague, McMahon, was always open about how she felt about issues, but did not force her opinion on others. She said her true strength as a leader is to be able to explain her position in a way that could “cause you to rethink your position while not being dogmatic, and be willing to changer her own position,” Yusem said.
Both McMahon and Shepard fought back tears as they gave their final farewells, and received a citation from the School Committee.
McMahon thanked her colleagues, and she said they were a “genuine group of people.”
“I will look back on the four years and the positive impact we have had,” McMahon said. “I will look back and know the good job we have done and that we have made it a much better place that it was.”
Shepard recalls when he first joined the board in 2012 he told his family and friends they would not see much of him because he would be working on three top priorities – hiring a superintendent, settling the teacher contract and getting more funding.
“We resolved all three in the first half of 2012,” Shepard said.
He said he did not run for School Committee with any agenda.
“I only wanted to improve eduction for all students,” Shepard said. “Thank you, Watertown.”