Name, age and address
Noreen Bechade, 60, 25 Wildflower Lane
Graduate of Burdett School (Executive Program/Boston)
Associate Degree Program (Paralegal Studies) – Bristol Community College
Local business owner
Created back-pack program and healthy snack program for underprivileged children in two local schools in Plymouth
Local public service
Provide free fitness and mind, body, spirit classes for the public to help teach a healthy, active lifestyle
Legal assistant/paralegal background (30 years) in Boston
Why are you seeking this office?
We need a committee member who brings a fresh perspective on current challenges, creativity to problem solving, and encourages transparency between the school committee and parents. I look forward to listening to parents and bringing awareness to their concerns, as well as existing challenges, and helping to implement creative solutions that will address them.
What is the biggest challenge facing local schools as the town emerges from the pandemic and how should it be addressed?
First and foremost, a majority of the children are behind in their education. They basically lost two years’ worth of good quality education not due to the lack of ability of the teachers, but due to the conditions brought on ultimately by the pandemic. Secondly, is the mental health of our children being challenged due to the restrictions pressed upon them. This is too broad of a question to answer fully in a short paragraph. With that said, as a committee, we need to first acknowledge and recognize these issues and then we need to work together to brainstorm as to how to create resources/programs to help students and parents navigate these challenges that they are experiencing.
With closing Hedge School now off the table, what are the long- and short-term answers for declining enrollments in Plymouth’s elementary schools?
First as a committee, we need to determine what the cause is for the decline in enrollment. Is it people moving away? Or is it that parents are choosing to homeschool due to concerns of theirs that are not being adequately addressed.
Once we find out the answers to the decline, and if we aren’t able to increase our enrollment, we would need to explore other possible solutions, for example adding onto one of the schools and merging a few of the elementary schools, etc. The committee as a whole would need to look at the demographics and what school could accommodate the necessary changes with possible construction while being creative to satisfy budget restrictions along with taking into consideration the needs of our children and their parents.
What should be the role of the district’s new equity, diversity and inclusion director and what should it not entail?
If we, as a town, in fact do hire a director, the role of this person should be restricted to that of support and counsel to students and parents. The students need to be able to seek the services at their own free will. If the student does seek out the director, parents would need to be included, as parents ultimately have the final say as the ultimate authority figures in a minor child’s life. The role of the director should not be to implement programs or provide information that is automatically presented to the entire student body.
Name another important education issue facing Plymouth. How you would approach it as a committee member?
One issue is the lack of transparency with parents when it comes to their children’s curriculum selection. Parents have no way of knowing what their children are going to be taught until the decision has already been made. That is one critical area that needs to be addressed. The way I would approach it is to form a subcommittee/panel consisting of a few school committee members, parents and teachers to review the books thoroughly to determine whether they are appropriate for our school children. We need to stick with academic basics such as reading, writing, math, science, history, etc. with no additional hidden agendas.
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