On Monday, I went to Newburyport City Hall and collected the necessary papers to begin my effort to get elected to the School Committee for a two-year term. It was an amazing experience, one that made me feel as if I was doing the right thing. It’s not that my family and I have a ton of extra time in our days or that my wife and kids think I don’t obsess enough over all things related to teaching, learning, and education policy. I also would never claim to have answers to everything Newburyport School’s need. That being said, I feel my involvement would play a highly beneficial role in the present and future of Newburyport Schools, my own family, and the amazing City of Newburyport, where my family has chosen to move and live.
What do I see as my strengths?
- I believe in Newburyport’s capacity for greatness. I love living here. I’ve always loved visiting here. The people I have met and come to know - whether they are new to the area or have deep family roots here - are also psyched to be here. There is no reason why we can’t have a flagship school district.
- I believe in communication and transparency. People in the community - and the schools - want and deserve to know what’s being discussed and decided upon, whether or not they can make it to meetings and sit there for hours on end. While our hired educators are the professionals who best understand how to run schools and create excellent opportunities for teaching and learning, the community at large - those with and without children in the district - need to be informed about and allowed to be involved in setting the values and logistics that steer our schools.
- I have perspective. I’ve now been a classroom teacher and school administrator in positions that span all grade levels and a variety of settings in four different states. Since I’ve always felt that the mission of all schools is to support students’ growth through as wide a variety of opportunities as possible, that has been my goal when I’ve been in rural, suburban and urban public schools as well as when I’ve worked in group homes and detention centers for adjudicated teens. I’ve seen a wide variety of strategies used to work with a breadth of schools’ needs. I believe I’ve come to understand how to grow schools without top-down mandates that crush teachers’ individuality and students’ dreams. While having local history and long-standing relationships is vitally important, I also see having fresh eyes as being highly beneficial.
Specifically and most relevantly, I taught high-school English in Maine and New York for fourteen years, including six years as a department chair overseeing programs for grades 6-12 ELA. I’ve also been a high-school assistant principal in New York City and am currently an assistant principal at a K8 school in Malden.
- My kids are young, so we’re all in. Declan’s going into 3rd grade and Avery’s going into 5th. Not only do I realize that my discussions and decisions will play a part in shaping their future, but also fully believe that Newburyport seems to be at a pivotal time in its evolution. The debates over PARCC v MCAS, teacher evaluation systems, school start times, and best leveraging the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks are as vital as those the city is having about its waterfront’s future and smart-growth neighborhoods.
I both want to be a part of this key time in our history and model to my children the idea that democracy and community are not spectator sports. There’s almost always a sacrifice to doing so, but it’s important to become involved in our future.
This week, my “campaign” will officially start as I gather up the needed signatures. Over the next few months, I’m hoping to meet as many people as possible. If I do get elected in the fall, I plan to show up optimistic and enthusiastic, ready to talk through tough discussions and work towards the things our students and community members need from the schools.
For those of you who don’t know, you can comment here on my blog or find me at:
- @DavidHochheiser on Twitter
- #EdChatMa, the Twitter chat I help moderate for Massachusetts educators
- Port Parents Facebook page a place for voice and information for Newburyport parents, which I also co-moderate.
- I’m also downtown a lot with my kids, my wife Kellie, and our puppy, Izzy