One in a series of candidate profile as we head into May 20 election
Jessica Harrington is a candidate for Auburn School Committee. She moved to Auburn from New Hampshire in 2006. Harrington is married with two children, one in preschool and one in Auburn Public School. She has a background in early childhood education and was a lead preschool teacher in the Boston area prior to becoming a full time parent.
Harrington currently serves as the District II PTO President. She is actively organizing a “Bridge Over Route 12” initiative. Her feeling is that Auburn is divided in a way that families do not always get to know other families because of where they live and the schools their children attend. She hopes to bring students and their families together for fun activities and to create more town unity.
AMD: What do you feel qualifies you to be on the School Committee?
Harrington: I am a mother of an Auburn Public School student, soon to be two. I am also the District II PTO president. So I have a vested interest in our schools. Through the PTO, I work with parents, teachers and administration and I help in the classroom. I am in the school almost every day so I have a real firsthand view of what happens in our schools.
AMD: What would you improve in our public schools?
Harrington: I would call it more enhance than improve. We have a great superintendent, a great high school, a new middle school coming online, and the coming merger of grades 3-5 in the refurbished Swanson St. School. I would work to enhance technology integration in our schools to make sure our students have cutting edge skills. There is always the issue of ensuring the safety of students, physically and psychologically. Overall, our Auburn schools are really thriving.
AMD: What do you feel is the biggest issue facing the School Committee?
The transition to the new schools, certainly. The new middle school, merging grades 3-5, building maintenance and funding. Not that funding won’t be there, but I feel we need to be creative, fundraising, things like that. There will be a lot of changes coming and change is hard. But we will move forward.
AMD: Do you have an opinion on the Common Core Initiative?
I do! It’s a hot topic now. Common Core has raised the bar for states which have adopted it. It has brought more technology into the classroom. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) component has a lot of positives, including engaging girls in science and math, where it has traditionally been male dominated. The pressure is on the teachers, students and teachers to learn these new methods. Common Core crams in a lot of information, and we have to monitor the progress to make sure there is retention of all this information. That is one area that concerns me. Massachusetts needs to look very closely before adopting every standard.
AMD: How would the Committee benefit from your presence?
I am a team player. I am a good listener and I am good at bringing people into the fold. Through my PTO experience, I know a lot of the parents, teachers and staff. As I said, I am in the schools every day. I have young children, so I plan to be around a long time.