, Salem, MA

April 24, 2013

Letter: Landen best choice for School Committee

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

This letter provides a brief personal perspective on the merits of Jaren Landen for Swampscott’s School Committee. About two years, ago my wife handed me a flier one of my kids had brought home from school – it was a call for volunteers to serve on a newly constituted “grants and student life committee,” and it had the aim of trying to capture philanthropic money for the benefit of Swampscott’s students, kindergarten through 12. As a biomedical scientist at Harvard with my own lab and some experience with writing grants to support my research, I figured this was something I could help with, and what better way to bring money into our sorely pressed education budget and to help the school district than to go after these external funds?

Jaren single-handedly developed and implemented the grants committee after the necessary consultation and consent of school administrators. Never having met her before and having no idea about the mechanisms or politics of our school district, I was interested to see what the dynamic on this committee would be. Jaren, as head of the committee, was professional, focused, diplomatic to a fault and solicitous at all times of the lines of communication required whenever new grant opportunities were discussed. Teachers, administrators and principals were engaged at all stages as we worked to identify not just grants we thought would benefit our students, but also potential workload issues, etc., for staff.

This makes it troubling to me to see misrepresentations surfacing in the local conversation. For any of us who regard improving our schools as important, both for the sake of our students and — let’s not be coy here — for those without pupils at school and who may care about property values in Swampscott, Jaren is an enormous asset on the School Committee. Her entire focus and efforts have been on making Swampscott schools better. Moreover, her style is instinctively collegial and consultative. I urge readers of this letter to peer through the fog of disharmony that unfortunately has arisen and place a vote for this dedicated member of the town community.