LETTER: Watertown Mother, Educator Running for School Committee

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School Committee candidate Jennifer Nicholson, her husband Ryan Nicholson (Assistant Fire Chief on the Watertown Fire Department), and their children.

My name is Jennifer (Holt) Nicholson and as a lifelong resident of Watertown, I am thrilled to announce my candidacy for the Watertown School Committee. It would be a tremendous honor for me to serve with pride and give back to the community that has given so much to my entire family.

My children, incoming third and first graders at Cunniff, are fourth generation students of Watertown Public Schools. My husband, who is currently Assistant Fire Chief for the Watertown Fire Department, and I both graduated from Watertown High School in 2003. I went on to earn my Bachelor of Science in General Management from Boston College in 2007, concentrating in Marketing and Human Resources. During my undergraduate years, I had the opportunity to work as a substitute teacher in all three Watertown elementary schools. It was during this time that my professional path became clear. I found teaching to be a dynamic and exciting profession that blends seamlessly with my personality as an enthusiastic, resourceful and dedicated person who believes in lifelong learning and service to others in all facets of my life.  

Within a week of graduating from Boston College, I began taking courses toward my Master of Arts in Teaching at Regis College, which I completed in 2010. I was so grateful to work as an instructional assistant at Hosmer, where I also completed my student teaching and learned a great deal from a team of truly fantastic educators. I was able to devise and implement lessons for first and second grade students focusing on positive feedback, differentiated instruction and multisensory approaches to learning. In 2008, I was hired as an elementary classroom teacher in another local district where I taught for four years prior to the birth of my first child in 2012. During my time as an elementary educator, I partnered in team teaching models, served as the third grade team leader, participated in our school’s hiring committee and mentoring program, and implemented a theater initiative focusing on character education and social and emotional development that is still being used in the school today. In recent years, I have continued taking online classes to stay current in pedagogical practices, provided tutoring services for children in our community, volunteered in youth sports, and been an active member in the Cunniff PTO, serving as Secretary for two years and now will be entering my second year as Co-President this September.  

As a result of my own experiences as well as witnessing my son and daughter both flourish at Cunniff, I strongly believe that we have outstanding teachers and staff working with our children. From the Pre-K teacher who gently helped my daughter overcome her separation anxiety to my son’s first grade teacher who penned a handwritten full-page response to a letter during the height of the pandemic, the level of care and dedication that our educators put into their teaching is phenomenal and does not go unnoticed to me. My children still ask to watch the 53 second video from the car parade that was held for families in front of the old Cunniff building before it was knocked down last June. Cars lined up all the way down Warren Street and the grounds were flooded with dozens of masked teachers holding signs, jumping, and waving to their students as they drove by. It was evident that the opportunity to see one another and say goodbye in person was just as meaningful to the staff as it was for the children. I simply could not have been more proud to be a member of this community and thankful to be raising my family here.

I am running for Watertown School Committee because I believe in public education and I want to ensure all students have the opportunity to receive the best education possible. Watertown is a diverse community and we have to celebrate that diversity and respect each child’s individuality. The vitally important role that families play in the success of a school district is something that I strongly understand. I will be committed to building public understanding, support and participation to help serve the educational needs of all students. Over the years, I have been asked frequently if I intend to keep my children enrolled in Watertown at the secondary level and it is my goal for all families to feel as confident about the learning opportunities in our schools as I do. Watertown is doing an incredible job of constructing impressive, state-of-the-art facilities for our schools and I want our district’s standing and reputation to match the image of our magnificent new buildings. As a member of the School Committee, I will demonstrate active listening, strategic planning and flexible thinking; I vow to always be open to collaboration and compromise to support our students, families, faculty, administrators and the Watertown community at large. I look forward to having many conversations with the citizens of Watertown and I will always be available to discuss anyone’s priorities, concerns and ideas. I can be reached at nicholsonforwatertown@gmail.com. I am committed to serving Watertown and I would be honored to devote my time to support our schools as a member of our School Committee. 

9 thoughts on “LETTER: Watertown Mother, Educator Running for School Committee

  1. It’s great to see a local Watertown girl step up to run for school committee. As a lifelong Watertown resident myself, I believe the school committee will be best served by those who are products of the Watertown school system. I am encouraged by her announcement to run and look forward to hearing more about her goals as we get closer to the election. Good luck to all those who step up and run, we need strong people to make sure we don’t lose our schools!

  2. She seems like a nice person, but is she in the teachers union? I’m very wary of putting another teachers union voice on the School Committee, many parents feel this way. It’s a blatant conflict of interest and the students paid the price for that conflict last year when the School Committee refused to open up the schools and the state had to force them open (with the teachers union kicking and screaming the whole time).

    It’s very difficult for union members to publicly go against their union- the school committee members need to be independent and not have other interests standing in the way of putting students first.

  3. Congratulations on your run for School Committee, Ms. Nicholson! Watertown needs qualified, motivated candidates such as you.

    I would like to know where Ms. Nicholson stands on some of the “hot button” issues that teachers and schools are commonly asked to handle these days:

    (1) Instruction to first graders and other young children telling them that they can choose to be any gender they wish.

    This sort of instruction is very common nowadays but often causes controversy.

    For example:
    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/washington-superintendent-defends-teacher-trans-rights

    (2) Critical Race Theory. It often teaches that white America is intrinsically racist and that whites have “white privilege.” Should Watertown teach this?

    For example: https://americanexaminernews.com/elementary-school-creates-stunning-privilege-assignment/

    (3) LGBTQ instruction in elementary school so children can learn about sexual orientation and what it means.

    For example: https://www.glsen.org/elementary-resources

    These are important issues, and I think all candidates for School Committee should address them.

  4. I agree with Phil on the issues he raises. In many parts of the country parents and some school board members are pushing back against these hot issues, especially the critical race theory. Our children are already emotionally scarred from the pandemic and when we add in all these other items, the kids are totally confused on everything. They are being taught to self loathe if they are white or have them question what sex they really are. There is all this talk about love everyone and all I see is teachings to distrust your white neighbors and selves and presume they are racist without any evidence of it. There are many more cases of suicide in this country and adding these special topics in the lower grades will confuse more youth and cause more deaths. Let’s get back to the basics of teaching. I sincerely hope that Jennifer has a common sense attitude towards Watertown’s education process.

  5. Its gonna be painful to watch this narrative of critical race theory take over this conversation. I would suggest that people who want to engage candidates in this topic do some homework and critically think about the subject at hand — and stay clear of the Tucker Carlson talking points.

    • Jack…It is comical that you ask the readers to critically think about the the subject at hand, followed with what one may interpret as a negative comment against Mr Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson after Phil and Joan present some rather intellectual comments. I’d encourage you to review the links that Phil provided as these are important issues that our school committee members have not been presented with in the past.

  6. Just an FYI the school committee does not determine the curriculum that is being taught in the schools. The State does. It’s irrelevant what she thinks about these issues because she won’t be able to determine if they will be taught in Watertown schools.

  7. Critical Race Theory is a Fox News talking point and is completely irrelevant to this conversation because 1) School Committee members do not set curriculum and 2) it is not a discipline that is taught in K-12 education. If what Phil is really asking is whether the schools will continue to teach U.S. history in a culturally relevant way and through an anti-racist lens, then I too would like to know the views of all the candidates on this important topic. There are many voters in town who believe that having people who are supportive of equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in leadership roles and elected positions is critically important, regardless of whether it matters to the curriculum. And if Joan is concerned about suicide prevention, she might be interested to know that LGBTQ youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth and they are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. To be clear, my comments are not directed at Ms. Nicholson – I look forward to learning more about her and the other candidates as their campaigns progress.

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