MIDDLEBURY — While the eight-person race for three spots on the Middlebury selectboard is capturing a lot of attention during the countdown to Town Meeting Day, Middlebury voters on March 4 will also decide a four-candidate race for three, three-year terms on the Mary Hogan Elementary School board.
The Addison Independent invited Jim Callahan, Amy Graham, Jennifer McCarty and Lorraine Morse to share their civic resumés and state the reasons for their respective candidacies. Here, in alphabetical order, is an overview of their responses:
Callahan has lived inMiddlebury for the past 44 years.He served as principal of the ID-4 schools from 1970 to 1983, when the student population numbered more than 800. During Callahan’s tenure, ID-4 included the so-called “College Street School (currently Middlebury College’s Twilight Hall) as well as what is now the Mary Hogan Elementary School.
Callahan is about to complete his 52nd year as a math teacher at area schools, primarily at the elementary and junior high levels. He has, however, also taught more than 100 graduate-level courses in mathematics.
Callahan cited recent student math scores, through the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), as a reason for his run for the ID-4 board. Vermont is scheduled to replace the NECAPs next year with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing that will be aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
He said he has been disappointed with recent math NECAP test scores registered by Mary Hogan students moving on to the 7th grade at Middlebury Union Middle School. He said he would like to see more Middlebury students meet the “proficient” standard as they matriculate to secondary school.
Callahan has two grandchildren enrolled at Mary Hogan.
“I believe if elected I, along with the other members of the school committee, the superintendent, the principal and the teachers, working together we should be able to determine what is the cause of this poor (math) showing, which has been like this for eight years,” Callahan said.
Also of concern to Callahan is school spending.
“Gov. (Peter) Shumlin is asking for school boards to examine school expenses carefully,” Callahan said. “The budget needs to be fair to the children, fair to the people working in the school and especially fair for those people whose tax dollars are being used to provide for the school. I would like to be a part of this process.”
Graham grew up in the Midwest, studied in Kenya during college and joined the Peace Corps in Uganda after graduating. She earned a master’s degree in social work and spent a decade working in both community mental health and higher education administration. Graham has lived in Middlebury since 2004, when her wife, Suzanne Gurland, accepted a faculty position at Middlebury College.
“In the past 10 years, we have found ourselves at home here in Middlebury, connected to the community through both college and town activities,” Graham said in her e-mail. “In that time, I have primarily been a stay-at-home-mom to our two children, Berkeley, age 5, and Arianna, age 8, though I currently work part-time at our wonderful independent bookstore, The Vermont Book Shop.
Graham also runs a local nonprofit children’s literacy organization in her mother’s memory called “Bonnie’s Book Foundation,” which provides books directly to children who may not own books at home, as well as to the schools and programs that support them.
“I am committed to ensuring that children of all backgrounds have access to quality, engaging reading materials in their homes and schools,” she said. “In 2013, the foundation distributed more than 10,000 books to Vermont children in partnership with social service agencies and public schools.”
Graham said she’s running for the ID-4 board out of an interest to serve her community and out of a desire to support her local elementary school.
“Both of our children attend Mary Hogan School, which has been a very positive experience for them,” she said. “I want to support the school faculty and administration and work to ensure that all students continue to have access to quality public education and innovative programming and enrichment opportunities.”
She said she does not enter the race with any “specific agenda,” but rather “with a commitment to examine issues as they arise and develop informed decisions that support the school and the students.” She believes she has the background and interpersonal skills to fit in well on the board.
“I have closely followed the process the ID-4 board has gone through in planning the replacement for the beloved but aging Kidspace structure, as well as initiatives to improve student health and to support learning both in and out of the classroom,” Graham said. “I love being a part of our community, and I see the school board as a wonderful way to give back to the community and support our public schools.”
McCarty grew up in Michigan and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Michigan-Dearborn in 1994. After graduating, she worked in several different positions at Dearborn Federal Credit Union, including IT system administrator. She then went to work for TEKSystems in a position with General Motors.
She and her husband moved to Huntsville, Ala., in 2006, when he accepted a job with PPG Aerospace. In 2008, their twin daughters were born, prompting McCarty to join the board of directors of a “Mothers of Multiples” group. Through this organization, she was able to participate in helping support charity organizations in Huntsville.
McCarty and her family moved to Middlebury almost four years ago, after her husband accepted a job at United Technologies (previously Goodrich Corp.). She is currently a full-time mom to 5-year-old daughters, who are kindergartners at the Mary Hogan Elementary School.
“When my children started kindergarten at Mary Hogan School this fall, I knew that I wanted to be a participant in their education and involved at the school,” McCarty said. “I have been able to do this by volunteering in each of my children’s classes every other week, working on a project in the library and serving on the Read-a-thon Committee.”
McCarty has found the Mary Hogan School to be a “great, well-rounded elementary school.”
“The administrators and teachers are really engaged with the students,” she said. “The school promotes physical activity, nutrition, music and art, in addition to academics. I love to walk the halls and see the various types of projects that students have created on the walls.”
She sees service on the ID-4 board as providing an opportunity for her to give back to her community.
“Middlebury has placed a high value on education of its young people and I could not agree more,” she said. “Being on the ID-4 school board would be an extension of my involvement in my children’s education and an opportunity to utilize my experiences to contribute to the important work of the board. I’ve attended a couple of the board meetings and found them to be very interesting. I am eager to participate more fully, as an elected board member.”
Born, raised and educated in Middlebury, Morse is no stranger to the ID-4 board and public service.
She started her involvement at Mary Hogan Elementary as a room parent and volunteer in the classroom. She also chaired MESA — the school’s parent group — for several years, before being elected to the ID-4 board 12 years ago. She has also spent the past seven years representing Middlebury on the UD-3 board, which oversees Middlebury Union Middlebury and High schools.
“I have found it beneficial to be part of the process pre-K through grade 12,” she said. “In keeping with my commitment to children, I am also on the board of the MiddSummer Lunch and Recreation Program, a five-week summer program for children in Addison County.”
Morse is a graduate of the University of Vermont. She and her husband, David, have a daughter, Jennifer, who is a senior at UVM and a son, Michael, who is a sophomore at Castleton.
“I originally joined the Mary Hogan school board because of my own children and the desire to be a part of making their educational opportunities as positive as mine had been,” Morse said. “Over the years, I have tried to serve with no agendas. I have tried to be an advocate for all students and to support the work of administrators and faculty while understanding the terrible tax burdens that Middlebury residents face each year and working to keep budget increases as low as possible. I am running for re-election because I still care about Mary Hogan and the children who go there. I feel my experience on the board will be an asset as we continue to grapple with tough educational issues, an increasingly diverse population of students and needs, and ever tightening budgets. I would welcome the opportunity to represent Middlebury voters for another term.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]