LETTER: Outgoing School Committee Member Reflects on His Term


Dear Watertown,

Four years ago, I was elected because residents wanted a change from what had come before and they wanted results in our schools. It is a humbling experience to be elected and entrusted with making positive changes to the lives and education of our students.

I took that obligation very seriously then and I still do. After being sworn in, I mentioned to my wife and friends that they would not see a lot of me during the first half of 2012 due to the challenges facing the district. I focused all of my efforts on working with my Committee colleagues to resolve the immediate challenges facing us then:

  1. Settling the teacher’s contract and rebuilding those relationships.
  2. Finding the right superintendent for Watertown.
  3. Finishing the budget and pushing for increased funding.

With a lot of hard work, long nights and weekends and spirited discussions, we resolved all three in the first six months of 2012 and brought a measure of stability to the schools after many years of turmoil.

I ran for this office with no agenda. My only goals were to improve the education of all our students and to advocate for increased special needs services and resources.  We have accomplished a lot and made some very good improvements during the last four years. New initiatives have begun that will develop for many years, improve our schools and programs and prepare our students for an increasingly complex world.

I have learned so much during my time on the Committee, in so many different areas, and for that, I thank you all – my colleagues on the Committee, the teachers, the students and the families who have shared your hopes and concerns with me.

I will miss collaborating with parent groups, teachers and the Town Council to solve the problems facing our district. I will miss seeing the excitement on a student’s face when they show their parents what they planted in one of the learning gardens. Most of all, I will miss the work of turning ideas into results that improve the education we offer our students.

It is my sincere hope that all of the positive momentum that we have created will continue and that the working relationships that we have rebuilt and improved will also endure.

This may sound cliché, but, from my heart, I can say that it has been my honor and privilege to offer my skills, energy and experience to help improve the schools for all of our students.

Thank you all again, and thank you Watertown.

Mike Shepard

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