Photo: Evelyn Gomez is running to retain her seat on the Belmont School Committee:
The Belmontonian is providing candidates/campaigners of ballot questions in contested races the opportunity to make a request for votes in the final week of the election race.
I am running for the school committee because I believe that every child deserves an education that develops their full potential. I was appointed to the school committee last June during the most disruptive public health and education crisis we have seen in generations. These months have felt like a trial by fire, but I have emerged more committed than ever and armed with the experience necessary to move our school district forward. I am seeking election to my first full term on the school committee to continue the work of making our district more transparent, equitable, and innovative.
Since my appointment last summer, I aimed to communicate with empathy and transparency to help families adjust to the ever-changing conditions of this crisis. I quickly recognized that communication during a crisis is critical and actively worked to open dialogue between the school committee and the community. These are the concrete actions I took to improve communication and transparency:
- I held open office hours. When I proposed to hold a series of school committee sponsored roundtables with families this summer, I was told that was outside of my official duties. Undeterred, I started offering open office hours as an individual, including listening sessions with students. Later, the school committee came to realize the benefit of these and adopted the practice after all.
- I pushed for systematic data-collection. I advocated for district wide surveys to form a more complete picture of what families actually wanted from their schools and what students needed, rather than guessing as to what those needs might be.
- I advocated for parent and student voices in our decision making processes. Our community has volunteered their time, skills, and resources to help the district navigate the challenges of the pandemic. In the Fall, I convened parents to help inform my decision making process around health metrics and transmission mitigation strategies, and provide insight into how the committee weighed their options.
Family engagement has never been higher and I want to focus this energy into positive change for our schools. Given our increasingly diverse student population, we have the opportunity to be proactive, keep parent engagement high, and actively seek out the voices that are often left out of decision making. I acknowledge that my decisions had a direct impact on thousands of students and families across our community; I feel that weight every day. I am willing to learn from my mistakes. Without increased transparency, we erode trust and goodwill with the community we represent.
As the child of immigrants and an English Language Learner, I am uniquely positioned to bring about the changes our schools need. I will focus on improving the educational experiences and outcomes for all of our children, with a particular focus on providing equal access to opportunities for all students.
This is why I spearheaded the creation of the school committee’s new Equity Subcommittee in my first three months, with the goal of dismantling the systems that deny access to opportunities for some students and to bring accountability to a school system that is currently not serving all students equitably. Our district will soon initiate a district-wide equity audit to closely examine the systems and decision points that lead to inequity in students’ access to opportunities.
As an engineer, I am trained to solve problems and make data-driven decisions. I firmly believe that decision-making is an iterative process and am committed to revisiting decisions when new data is available. I am an innovative thinker and bring a refreshingly new set of insights to the challenges we face in our schools. Since my appointment, I have proven that I will not shy away from challenging the school committee and our administrators to think creatively when approaching the issues we face, or even take an entirely different approach when necessary. That’s the kind of thinking the school committee needs. It’s the kind of leadership our schools need.
I’m nothing if not unapologetically persistent and relentlessly driven to have a positive impact in our community. Visit evelyngomez.org to learn more about my candidacy. I hope you will join me in this fight and respectfully ask for your vote on April 6.
Evelyn Gómez, Belmont School Committee, Carleton Road