G&P Steering Committee 2019-20

G&P Steering Committee 2019-20
Posted on 10/07/2019
Please welcome the 2019-2020 Parent Representatives on the G&P Steering Committee!

jessica and familyJessica Britton
My Name is Jessica Britton. I am the oldest of 5 siblings. I am originally from Odenton, Maryland (a suburb of Baltimore). I moved to Cambridge 6 years ago before my daughter, Kendall, was born. Kendall started Kindergarten this year at G&P, and I am looking forward to my son enrolling in JK next school year. I currently work as a Mechanical Engineer for Raytheon Company. I love fishing, and taking road trips.

This school year is my introduction to the Graham and Parks. As a new mom, and new family to the G&P community, I want to take advantage of the opportunity to help support the teachers, the students, and other faculty in anyway.

The main goal for me is to be a liaison between families and teachers throughout the school year - to make sure all families are aware of the functions and opportunities throughout the school year that are both socially and academically beneficial to our children. I also hope to bring concerns or ideas from the parents to the administration, to make sure the G&P community stays inclusive in every way. It will be a privilege to become more familiar with the existing community, and help strengthen it in any way.

kris and familyKris Dickson
I am a Ph.D. trained neuroscientist, turned freelance science writer, with interests in memory, cognition and neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder. Prior to moving to Cambridge, I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland where I ran a neuroscience laboratory. I am fortunate that freelance science writing gives me the flexibility to enjoy lots of time with my children (Makenzie - 5th grade, Adam – 3rd grade) and has given me the freedom to be involved in many wonderful volunteer opportunities at G&P over the years we’ve been in the school (i.e. Friends of G&P, Garden Committee, Weekend Backpack Program/G&P Market and Steering Committee).

Over the past several years at G&P, I have enjoyed becoming a part of the G&P community. I have been a parent representative on the Steering Committee for the past 3 years, serving at the Parent Co-Chair for the past 2 year. I make an effort to hear the viewpoints of families across G&P, and I have worked to ensure that these views (both positive and negative) are heard and addressed by the Steering Committee. I would be honored to continue those efforts in the 2019-2020 school year.

I strongly support the expeditionary learning philosophy at G&P, and want to support and encourage this year’s exploration into becoming an official Expeditionary Learning school – helping to ensure that all G&P children, from those struggling and needing that bit of extra support to those excelling and needing that extra challenge, are positively engaged in their own learning. I’d also like to help continue the Steering Committee’s efforts to better integrate our SEI, LBLD and General Education programs, and to create an even stronger inclusionary culture at G&P. Finally, I am a proponent of the World Languages program and will continue to push for the full implementation of World Language instruction at G&P and across the district. Building a strong community means really listening and responding to the members of that community.

As a Steering Committee representative the last few years, I have worked to build our community – including ensuring that parent concerns around the removal of looping were carefully considered, that parents had the opportunity to provide input into the 5th grade overnight field trip to Thompson Island, that G&P families and classrooms were engaged with the School Committee to push for field trip bus funding, and that parents were given opportunity to voice their suggestions around healthy food choices. I will continue striving to represent all of the distinct family voices at G&P, ensuring that the G&P Steering Committee is a true partnership between G&P staff, teachers and families.

christian and familyChristian Henry
My wife Liz and I have a 4 year old son and an 8 year old daughter. This year she is a 3rd grade student starting her 5th year at Graham & Parks. I co-founded an expeditionary school where for 20 years I taught, ran the business office, and was a fundraiser. This past year I’ve worked for a non-profit startup here in Cambridge focused on students with dyslexia. Outside of work I'm on the board of directors of three educational non-profits. I believe in the power of education to unlock the potential of all students, and have spent my career building organizations that fulfill that promise.

I love Graham & Parks, and I’m very interested in serving on the Steering Committee again this year. I really like the teachers and the staff here and I appreciate their expertise. Every parent depends on other adults to help in the job of raising their child, and I believe we have an exceptionally talented and capable group of people caring for and developing our children. As a room parent for a year, and volunteer for the Friends of Graham & Parks for 2 years, I've put some time into building community among teachers and parents. I’m especially excited for the school to reinvest in the systems, schedule, and training to support its expeditionary approach to learning this coming year. I feel I can apply lessons from my professional experience to benefit the school, and the Steering Committee is a great way to do that.

Here is what I’d like to achieve on the Steering Committee:
1) Identify opportunities. In my work I've seen how schools are systems, and every choice has trade-offs. I can ask the right questions to understand issues and create options.
2) Communicate effectively. In my roles leading and reporting to leadership, I've come to appreciate the value of creating a shared understanding of what's happening and also why it's happening. I'd like to continue to build on the culture in our school of listening openly, sharing assumptions, and learning along the way.
3) Celebrate us. So much of the magic in school depends on people working together. I hope to continue to recognize and honor the contributions of everyone inside and outside the building."

Something is clearly working at Graham & Parks. I sense that the success in building community comes from lots of hard work, and it's easy in the day-to-day of our lives as parents to miss the chance to encourage and cheerlead for those showing up every day for the students. I believe there are interesting opportunities all around us to be grateful and teach our children how to show gratitude.

mercedes and familyMercedes Soto
I am a firm believer in engaging with community members to continuously improve programs to achieve positive youth outcomes. I enjoy working with stakeholders to shape the questions, collect and analyze many types of data, and explore “many ways of knowing”. I recently joined the team at the Agenda for Children Out of School Time Initiative as the Impact and Evaluation Advisor. An experienced nonprofit manager, teacher, youth development program director and community organizer, I have led youth program planning, staff training, program outcomes evaluation and networking initiatives.

My family is originally from Puerto Rico. I am a first generation high school and college graduate. I grew up in Gary IN and Cambridge where I now live with my partner and son, who is in the 5th grade and is starting his 3rd year at G & P.

We came to G & P two years ago when my son was referred to the language-based disabilities program. My first year, I learned about the school policies by attending the Steering Committee meetings as a community member. Last year, I was honored to serve on the Steering Committee and worked with other parents to bring attention to the systemic barriers for families of children who would benefit from the LBLD Program.

I am looking forward to working with other Steering Committee members to build a stronger more inclusive school community and to continue to improve access to opportunity and equity for all students, and especially those with disabilities. To create a stronger G&P community, we need to continue to create opportunities to connect families to one another in ways that enhance our opportunities to learn with and from another. We should offer real time translation in meetings to maximize participation. We need to help families understand how best to support teachers and staff to improve the quality of education (academics, and social emotional learning) for all students. We should also share stories about the many wonderful things that are happening in classrooms and teacher professional development and family engagement.

xing and familyXing Tian
Hi! I am Xing Tian from Yunnan, China, a province at the borderline between China and several Southeast Asian countries. It is a very culturally diverse area with over 50 ethnic groups. My family moved to New York City last year as my husband started to further his study in social policies for marginalized populations. This July we moved to Cambridge and our first son Mutong is in the SEI program at Graham and Parks school. I like cooking different foods and spending quality time with friends.

Last year when we just moved to New York City, my son faced a lot challenges as he started pre-k in a public school, without speaking any English. During that time, we had to learn a lot about how to communicate these special challenges to his teachers and vice principal.

Graham & Parks is a lovely school serving a lot of international families, and I am interested in being a Parent Representative as someone who is from another country and whose children do not speak English as their mother language.

At the same time, I see families from different cultural backgrounds as a great treasure for children in the school to learn about this world. I want to contribute to better understand the international families' needs, which I think Graham & Parks is doing great already!

I want to encourage international parents and children share their culture with the school community, either inside or outside the classrooms. Graham & Parks has built a friendly and welcoming community. The parent involvement is great. I feel encouraged to contribute to this community in different ways.
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