Thursday, March 12, 2009

A very personal note from Megan,

I have had a lot of people ask me why I am running for School Committee. I always seem to stumble when I answer this. There are the expected answers, very real facts, but it goes a lot deeper for me. Equity is huge to me. All kids in this district having equal access to a wonderfully fulfilling education regardless of any differences, is a big one. Having accountability from everyone involved in making sure this happens, again a big one. These are not the driving needs behind why I am running though. Running for this takes a lot of time and energy. I am sure that doing the work will take even more. It is hard to go to all these various meetings, introducing myself to a lot of people, who are all equal in my eyes, with their very real concerns about their children's education. I never really planned to become this involved in the schools but as I became more involved in the schools each year, I realized there was more work to be done. I took the first step by going to a Mark's Meadow PGG meeting, to see what I could to to help out in the school. This lead to the Diversity Study Circle that we did in 2007, then to Diversity Committee and finally the School Governance Council. Last year the School Committee put together a sub-committee called the Amherst Schools Organization Committee, which I also participated in. So I keep taking these steps forward and getting more involved and learning more everyday, about how the schools work.
I want this to be clear, I am not running to save Mark's Meadow from closing, as much as I love that school, I do feel closing it needs to be an option. I am not running to save certain programs, as much I have find tremendous value in them all. I am running because there is a driving need inside me to step up and do something for ALL the kids. When I look at myself in the mirror, I see someone who can help all the kids in this district. I want to see each and EVERY one of these children to succeed. I want to see each of them find their true passions and go out there in the world and make something of themselves, with confidence. Each child has that power in them.

Some have told me I should have waited a year. I couldn't do that. I honestly, could not look at myself in the mirror and like what I see if I did not step up and try, knowing that I could have been the one to do something for these kids. I had not found the words for this until last night. I was sitting there in the Regional School Committee meeting and saw the Middle School Principal get teary eyed at one point, talking about what these cuts mean to the kids. I felt that, deep down in the core of me.

It is easy to get caught up in the campaign, making sure we talk to all the right people, getting to all the events we should go to, having lawn signs up and all the other various things that go on with running a campaign. You can lose sight of why you're running with all the things you have to do. I stopped running for a few minutes last Friday afternoon. I was picking up my oldest son from after school basketball. We had gone early to watch for a little while. Here were all these kids playing simple games of basketball, with all the hopes and dreams that kids have. They were all so excited and into the games. So wonderful to watch. It was a total reminder to me of why I am doing this. For each and everyone of them. This is not about the parents to me. This is directly about the kids. My running for School Committee is coming straight from my heart. I want every single one of those kids to succeed, where ever life takes them. Many will go on to college, some may move on to the wonderful Vocational schools we have, some will go straight to work after graduation. Where ever these children decide to go with their lives, the major job we have, is giving them the best start we can. Give them all the tools they will need to succeed in the world.

People have brought up these questions/concerns to me:

I don't have college degrees, so am I a good candidate? My answer: YES!! I may not have the degrees yet, I do have some college classes done for a degree in Accounting at GCC, which I have taken in between having my kids.

Will I do something with those classes? Honestly, probably not. Accounting came very easy to me so it was an easy decision to take those classes. I have found, in recent years, that I really love being able to help people. I have great empathy and because of personal experiences, I had wanted to go into nursing. For several years now, I have been getting more and more involved in the schools and that passion is finding a new path towards helping children succeed.

So, do I value a college education? MOST DEFINITELY!!

Is it in my deck of cards? Yes, when the time is right for my family and myself.

Do I see that children can succeed without going to college? YES!! My husband is a perfect example of that. He graduated from Smith Vocational in Northampton and stayed with the same company he worked for as his Co-Op job, for 10 1/2 years! He now works for a Newell Rubbermaid Company, Lenox Tools in East Longmeadow and was just promoted to Senior Phone Systems Engineer, after being there just over one year.

I am young! I was 19 when I had my first child. It may not have been an ideal age to start a family, but there were other reasons that I had to have children younger. When I was 17 we found out that I have genetic condition which guaranteed that I would have had colon cancer by the time I was 30. The surgery that I had in July 2005, removed my colon and made an internal pouch instead. This surgery makes it pretty hard to carry a baby to term, so some choices needed to be made earlier than I was planning. Being a mother is the most important thing in the world to me. It gives me more happiness than I could ever imagine!! I got really lucky and found a great husband and we have an amazing family now!! There have been some really difficult challenges to making this work, being so young was a major issue. It took a lot of family support to get us to where we are today. I can relate to a lot of families out there who are dealing with situations similar to this. Young families need support, I would like to continue to build the supports within the schools for these families and encourage them to become more involved in their children's schools.

So why I am running is bigger than the immediate issues we are currently facing. I am running because every ounce of my being is telling me to stand up and fight for these kids. I am running because I can and will do right by all of them. I am running because each and every one of them deserves a chance to be the best they can!!

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