POLITICS

School Committee Race Part Three: What Sets Each Candidate Apart

By Kristen Arute, Published: June 25, 2020
Photos Courtesy of Stephanie Gertz, Michelle Ayer and Jen Benham

This is the final installment in our series on the School Committee race. We would like to thank the candidates for their thoughtful responses to our questions and wish them the best of luck. They have campaigned during a truly unique and challenging election cycle. Don’t forget to vote on Saturday!

What would you say sets you apart from the field of candidates? Why should people vote for you?

Stephanie Gertz:

I have an extensive background in education. I’ve studied what works, and what doesn’t work in schools. I spent years in the educational testing industry so I know how to interpret test data and most importantly, I care about our students and our town.

 

Michelle Ayer:

Myself, Jen and Stephanie are all avid volunteers for the Hingham Public Schools and the Hingham community and I’m honored to be running alongside dedicated women such as them. I also bring the added experience of having served on the Hingham School Committee for the past three years where I've built a collaborative relationship with the Board of Selectman and Advisory Committee; established a strong rapport with the district leadership team; promoted equity, inclusion, and social emotional supports for our students; and ensured that every decision we make promotes student achievement. Why should people vote for you? Casting one of your two votes for me would ensure continuity of leadership for our schools and our town as we navigate the challenges ahead.

 

Jen Benham:

My previous work experience was a special education teacher. In that role, I worked with students, teachers and administrators. It was this experience that helped me to better learn how to listen, and to work collaboratively towards solutions that best meet students’ needs. Additionally, I have been actively involved as a parent community leader within all three levels of the schools. Now more than ever, we need elected officials to lead courageously through uncertainty. I want to lead through this challenging time because our students need us now more than ever.

 

What would you like to add about yourself or your platform that you think our readers would find interesting?

Stephanie Gertz:

On a side note, I love the idea of having a regular therapy dog program in all schools. During the pandemic animal adoption has skyrocketed as people found comfort from pets. When it is safe to do so I’d like to see how feasible it would be to have therapy dogs come to Hingham Public Schools.

Michelle Ayer:

The past three years have seen significant changes for the Hingham Public Schools—three new principals, a new Director of Student Services, a new Athletic Director, and of course, a new Superintendent as well as the abrupt interruption and change in learning that occurred due to COVID-19. It has been a time of change and growth and while the work hasn’t always been easy, it has always been an incredible honor to serve our town and I would be honored to continue this service if re-elected.

Jen Benham:

If elected to the school committee, I will focus on how our district responds to situations like the one that we are facing. We need to ensure that we as a town make fiscally responsible decisions while still putting students first and delivering a high quality education. Additionally, we must be ready to address the social and emotional consequences of the school closure by making sure our students have the resources and support they will need when they return.

Kristen can be reached at kristen@hinghamcurrent.com.