Let’s face it, it’s been a rough year or so for the Wellesley School Committee. It’s been a perfect storm of litigation, angry parents, the Superintendent resigning, rodents in the cafeteria, accounting scandals, grumpy citizen speak sessions during meetings…all in all it’s a miracle that the brave volunteers who make up School Committee are able to accomplish anything at all. Even more interesting is that the two open seats up for grabs during the March election are contested. I’d like to introduce myself to you as one of the three citizens running for School Committee and tell you why I believe I can serve the town by serving on this Committee.
My name is Jen Looper, and I have two daughters in the Wellesley public schools, both of whom are now in the Middle School after having attended Sprague School. I myself attended public schools K-12 in Missouri, and then went on to Wellesley College, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1992. I then earned a Ph.D. in French at the University of California at Berkeley, completing my degree in 1998. I was a Fulbright scholar to France during my years in graduate school, studying medieval manuscripts en route to what I thought would become an academic career. Fortunately for me, given the reduced employability of newly-minted Ph.D.s in the late ’90s, I retrained and have worked my way through the ranks as a programmer. I currently work as Technical Lead at a small company. If anything defines my career and outlook, it’s a combination of academic rigor and hard-nosed practicality along with a passion for all types of education. Languages are of particular interest to me, and I was instrumental in prompting the public schools to introduce Mandarin Chinese to its curriculum, a program which is really taking off, especially in the Middle School. I also co-founded the Wellesley Chinese Language School which is growing into a great community of over 100 students, both ‘heritage’ and ‘non-heritage’. It is always my goal to keep learning, and I want to bring this passion for academic excellence and practical career-readiness to the Wellesley public schools.
I believe that America’s great tradition of public education should always keep its eyes on the prize – to prepare students for living a fulfilling life to the best of their abilities. We need to give kids the toolsets they need to arrive at their ideal career destinations, whether sooner or later. Instilling in them a love for learning and challenging them to excel is the best gift we can give these kids. In particular, I believe that the School system needs to pay very close attention to S.T.E.M. skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). In my own sphere as a programmer, I see that the world is an oyster for those students who have practical experience and excel in Engineering, Science, and Math. In I.T., we have great difficulty hiring junior developers simply because the need is so great and there are not that many students ready to enter the field. I would like to see Wellesley become a real S.T.E.M. powerhouse. What’s holding us back?
I think that the School Committee would benefit from some fresh faces and a ‘reboot’, to refresh its goals and get on track to compete in an increasingly shrinking world. We need to get our budgets under control and make sure we have openness and accountability so that the citizens of Wellesley can pull with School Committee to really focus on our goal of excellence in every area the school system touches.
I’m asking for your vote on March 13th. Please visit my web site at http://www.jenlooper.com for more information about me, follow me on Twitter (@jenlooper) and take a look at my campaign page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/
504 Worcester St.
MORE ELECTION INFO: Town election page