SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 31, 2014

Column: Salem's Community Advisory Board forum set for Tuesday

Patricia Zaido
The Salem News

---- — “Our primary focus in the year to come will be fixed with unwavering commitment upon the Salem Public Schools. And this charge is not simply for our School Committee and school leaders. We must all together devote ourselves to this end. This is a community mission.”

— Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, inaugural address, Jan. 6

Mayor Driscoll has always believed that the Salem Public Schools are a community mission. Thus, almost two years ago, in February 2012, she asked the Salem Partnership to form a Community Advisory Board (CAB). Ongoing communication is the ultimate goal. The committee also serves as a resource for both businesses and residents to have their ideas and concerns heard and to obtain feedback on their efforts. Members of the committee represent a cross section of the Salem Community. They are:

Patricia Maguire Meservey, president, Salem State University and The Salem Partnership and chairwoman of the Community Advisory Board; George W. Atkins, Ronan, Segal and Harrington, chairman of the Salem Partnership and vice chairman of the Community Advisory Board; Patricia H. Zaido, The Salem Partnership and committee secretary; Margaret Brennan, North Shore Community Health Inc.; Lucy Corchardo, Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Citizens Advisory Board, No Place for Hate Committee; Ellen Galligan, Catholic Charities; Scott Grove, Tinti, Quinn, Grover & Frey P.C.; Janine Matho, Salem Education Foundation; Betsy Merry, Merry Fox Realty; Rinus Oosthoek, Salem Chamber of Commerce; Richard Pabich, The Salem Inn; Linda Saris, Salem Cyberspace; Mary Sarris, North Shore Workforce Investment Board; Leanne Schild, Parents United of Salem; Rosario Ubera-Minaya, Latino Leadership Coalition; Kris Wilson, retired teacher.

To date, the committee has sponsored five public events:

In June 2012, the Community Advisory Board sponsored a presentation by the Mass Math-Science initiative (MMSI). MMSI is a private/public partnership designed to drive a school culture to high expectations and dramatically increase participation and performance in Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

In September 2012, the board sponsored a community meeting on the Salem Public Schools improvement efforts. Mayor Driscoll and Superintendent Stephen Russell discussed turnaround efforts. Roland Fryer, director of Harvard University’s Education Lab, was the keynote speaker.

In January 2013, the board sponsored a community meeting featuring Chris Gabrieli and Jennifer Davis, co-founders of the National Center for Time and Learning. These nationally recognized leaders shared their successes with hundreds of schools that have redesigned and expanded their schedules to better meet the needs of students and communities. Mayor Driscoll and Superintendent Russell again provided an update on Salem’s turnaround efforts.

At May’s Salem Education Foundation Education Day, the board sponsored an expo on summer programs for students in kindergarten through grade 12. Twelve organizations participated. Both participants and parents appreciated the opportunity to interact in this setting.

In September 2013, the Community Advisory Board sponsored Karla Behr, who led the team to design, develop and launch the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s model system for evaluating administrators and teachers. Behr discussed “Evaluating the Educators.” She was joined by David Argeramo, principal of Salem High School, and Kathy Marchetti, a fifth-grade teacher at the Witchcraft Heights School who discussed the implementation of this evaluation process in the Salem school system. Mayor Driscoll and Superintendent Russell also spoke and took questions from the audience.

The next community meeting will be held this coming Tuesday, Feb. 4 at the Bowditch School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. And we hope you will attend.

The program, which will be moderated by Salem News Editor David Olson and broadcast live on Salem Access Television, will be as follows:

1. Mayor Kimberley Driscoll and Superintendent Stephen Russell will offer an update on transition goals;

2. Marta Garcia, a teacher at the Bentley School, and Erin Heenan, an outreach counselor at Witchcraft Heights, will lead a discussion. Both also have children in the school system.

3. Assistant Principal Leanne Smith will give information on upcoming kindergarten and transfer registration. Materials will also be available.

4. Mark Higgins, chair of the Middle School Success Task Force, will give an update on the work of the committee.

There will also be a question-and answer period at the meeting. A translator and childcare will be available.

Citizens of Salem should attend this meeting. Teachers, parents, grandparents, volunteers, all concerned citizens. We all have a stake in the success of our public schools and the future of our children. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn and help in this major effort to improve the Salem Public Schools.

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Patricia Zaido is executive director of The Salem Partnership and a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Salem schools.