Candidates for School Committee


James B 'Jim' Newman

Why do you want to run for this office?

I am the father of three FHS students (two graduated, one still at FHS), and I have a huge appreciation for the teachers and staff of all the schools. I believe that the best way to support our students is to support our teachers. I want to help the School Committee fulfill its role as the formal interface between the community and its schools, and encourage the whole town to get involved and support the schools. I am excited about the new Superintendent and would love a chance to work with her.

What qualifications do you have for this position?

In addition to being a parent in the Falmouth Public Schools for 37 student-years and counting...
I am an Oceanographic Engineer -- I build and operate underwater exploration equipment for scientists -- and I own a small business based in Woods Hole. I know the importance of public education to maintaining a great workforce in town. I also know how to plan and run large projects, how to work as part of a team, and how to manage to a budget.
I am a committed volunteer, mainly in education-related organizations.
* I have been involved with the Penikese Island School for 20 years. Penikese is a program for troubled boys and young men, in recent years focused on young men recovering from opiate addiction. I've been a board member and board chair, and involved in many facets of the program including in strategic planning, facilities management, and as a volunteer licensed boat captain. I've been exposed to Special Education and substance abuse issues, both of which are significant issues in our schools.
* I am a founding board member of the Falmouth STEM Boosters, a volunteer organization that promotes connections between the Falmouth Public Schools and Science- and Technology-oriented companies and institutions in Falmouth.
* In addition, I've been a board member with the Falmouth Baseball Boosters, a volunteer with VIPS, and I was on the Lawrence School Council when my daughter was there. * And a high point of every year is that I get to serve as a mentor and judge for the Falmouth Science Fair.
I believe that all our students deserve special attention -- the kids in Special Ed, the high achievers, and the ones in the middle that are most easily neglected.

What issues would you plan to address if elected? How would you do this?

If elected I plan to go into the School Committee in listening mode. My only starting agenda is to be a positive force in the effort to support and improve the schools. I do see important issues in working to retain students who might otherwise go to private/parochial/charter schools, improving the quality of life in the schools (particularly thinking of the cafeteria meals), and (as always) in working to optimize how we allocate our limited discretionary resources. I know these issues are already being discussed and I want to understand better what efforts are already under way before pushing hard in any specific direction.

What is your favorite place or activity in Falmouth?

I love spending time on the water, particularly sailing in and around Woods Hole.


 

Kelly Welch

Why do you want to run for this office?

The system of educating every child in Town, for free, is a remarkable undertaking. Quality education for our children is essential to our community, our government, our economy, our real estate values, our tourism, our reputation and just about everything else you can think of. And Falmouth Public School takes on this responsibility with a smile, with incredible expertise and compassion and meets every student where they are despite increasing demands and expectations, and limited resources. A better question is ‘why wouldn’t I want to be involved in something so amazing?”

What qualifications do you have for this position?

The most obvious qualification I have is that I have been elected and served twice before. The learning curve for all that the School Committee handles and the policies and plans that guide us is very steep. I am grateful that although I am still constantly learning, I have developed an understanding of all the basics.

Additionally, I have a broad employment background through which I have developed a diverse set of skills. I have been a public school teacher, a private tutor, and taught culinary arts to high risk students. All of these have helped me understand the issues that teachers in different settings face each day. I have also worked in suicide prevention and substance abuse prevention, both of which have informed my understanding of social/emotional and addiction issues that weigh so heavily on our kids. And I have been the executive director of nonprofit organizations that require financial management and grant writing, strategic planning, and project management.

After 4 years on the School Committee, I really do feel as though these diverse experiences have helped me better serve the district.

What issues would you plan to address if elected? How would you do this?

Over the past 4 months, the School Committee has undertaken the most important component of our responsibilities: the hiring of a superintendent. The process of hiring is nearing completion, but the final chapter of that process is probably the most important. Our new superintendent will start in July, and will be new to Falmouth. The most important issue to me over the next year is insuring her success, to whatever degree possible. Her success in Falmouth schools means success for all of us. I would feel remiss if I did not demonstrate as much effort into helping her ‘do the job’ as I did in helping ‘fill the job’.

Of course, much of her success is out of my hands, but there are pieces that I can support as a school committee member. These include, connecting her to stakeholders in Town, providing for a proper transition between superintendents, helping develop trusting relationships with the committee and others in Town, and as she is from out of town, being a resource for the many new pieces she will learn along the way. I am confident she is going to be successful, and I am looking forward to our next chapter and whatever role I will play in the district’s ongoing success under our new leadership.

What is your favorite place or activity in Falmouth?

My very favorite place in Falmouth is paddle boarding in West Falmouth Harbor on a sunny Fall afternoon, with a bucket full of oysters balanced on the front of my board. What is better than floating around knowing you have freshly harvested dinner?


Natalie Kanellopoulos

Why do you want to run for this office?

I am running for school committee to give back and serve the community. Having grown up in Falmouth, I am deeply rooted to this town and want to help ensure that the District continues to be successful. As a parent of three children in the Falmouth Public Schools, I have a unique perspective of the needs, realities, and concerns of our students and parents. As a member of the school committee it will be my duty to serve as an advocate for the diverse student body; and to be receptive and responsive to parents, staff, students, and community stakeholders.

What qualifications do you have for this position?

2010 – present: East Falmouth Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization
2010 – present: VIPs volunteer
2016—present: Scholarship Committee member
2017 – present: East Falmouth Elementary School Council member
2018 Superintendent Search Committee

What issues would you plan to address if elected? How would you do this?

Our schools exist to serve the educational needs of all students. Ensuring that resources are equitable across the spectrum is a delicate, but necessary balance. There is a significant population of students and families with serious social and emotional needs in Falmouth. A priority for the District needs to be solidifying and furthering programs to not only serve the students affected by these challenges, but to also support their families, peers, and the teachers who are impacted on a daily basis. I would like to acquire a deeper understanding of the existing collaborations with service providers and see how we could enhance services. Concurrently, the District should continue to explore creative initiatives for students who are capable of increased academic challenges to keep this demographic engaged and stimulated.

Increasing parental engagement is another issue that I would like to address. Parents and families being active and engaged participants in their child’s education is vital for academic success. Initiatives would include:

• Establishing effective home/school communication that recognizes that not all families in the District have consistent access to email and social media;
• Engaging families in meaningful volunteer opportunities;
• Strengthening families’ knowledge and skills to support and extend their child’s learning at home in an effort to reduce the achievement gap that occurs over the
summer break; and
• Connecting students and families to community resources that strengthen and support students’ learning and well-being.

What is your favorite place or activity in Falmouth?

Having grown up in Falmouth, there are too many “favorites” to name. Whether it is walking through Beebe Woods, to the Knob, or along the beach, this town holds many memories for me. I am truly thankful to be able to live in such a welcoming and dynamic community.


John Furnari

Why do you want to run for this office?

My goal in running for re-election to a second three year term is to keep the positive momentum we have achieved while continuing to improve. It is critically important to educate our children. We can do this effectively by listening to our students, parents, teachers and administrators and support teams to give them the tools they need, putting everyone in the best position to succeed and maximize their individual and collective potentials. Education empowers our young adults to move forward. I am appreciative of the great efforts of our current Superintendent Dr. Nancy Taylor and feel I can help with the transition to Dr. Lori Duerr and was impressed during time spent with her during the recent hiring process with the skillsets she brings to Falmouth.

What qualifications do you have for this position?

I have learned and continue to learn in the role I serve on the School Committee. I’m appreciative to the town voters for their support in electing me the first time and honored to have volunteered my time over the last three years to help. Amongst my involvement includes serving on the Budget Subcommittee working closely with Falmouth’s Finance Committee; I also served on the Superintendent Search Committee, and am Falmouth’s representative on the Cape Cod Collaborative Board. My time volunteering at the Collaborative has given me insight into how the eighteen other districts are doing things, in addition to being a part of decisions and efforts to aid Upper Cape Tech, Waypoint Academy, the Star Program and their transportation services. All have relevance to Falmouth students in one way or another. I have a good working relationship with every principal, many teachers and support team members having spent a good amount of time in each school in our district on various occasions to try to help in some form or fashion. The more time I spend with all the more respect I have for what each one of them does, and can do.

What issues would you plan to address if elected? How would you do this?

There is not just one issue to address. There’s the opioid crisis. There’s differentiation to ensure each student is getting the support they need to achieve their maximum potential. There’s transportation. There is building safety. Keeping our kids safe. But also not making the buildings feel uncomfortable or overbearing on them. Being a place to learn, make friends, play sports, compete in science fairs, play music or sing in the chorale, etc. but in the background seamlessly and effectively the safety measures are taking place. There’s also continuing to maintain and improve our facilities including fields, but also staying ahead of the curve and incorporating technology effectively. While not adding to the overuse of phones and tablets, making sure our students develop people skills.

What is your favorite place or activity in Falmouth?

My favorite activity in Falmouth is without a doubt the Holiday by the Seas Weekend highlighted by the Falmouth Christmas Parade. Having served on the Falmouth Chamber for 12 years on various committees including its Board I saw firsthand how hard the Parade Committee worked to put that day together. Their enthusiasm and hard work is a sort of model I think for all committees, many of the same folks do a great job each year on the Fourth of July Fireworks, a close second on my favorite Falmouth activity list. The parade improves each year with the groups and businesses volunteering their time and resources making some really amazing floats. The always large turnout of spectators, the camaraderie and caring for each other is Americana at its best.