School Committee to Vote on Filling Callis’ Vacant Seat

By Kate Anslinger

In just a few days, the Town Council and the School Committee will vote on the next School Committee member. The vacancy is a result of past committee member Laura Callis’ resignation. Six candidates have submitted letters of interest and will compete for the spot at the joint meeting of the two boards at Dec.19 in the Harvey Hearing room in Town Hall.

Past committee member, Gus Martucci is included in the lineup. Martucci was elected two times from 2004 to 2010 and awarded with perfect attendance when he resigned from the position. He served on the Town Manager Search Committee, has recently been a member of the Town Finance Commission and was one of the founders of the Viking Pride Foundation, having served on the first board of directors.

During his tenure on the School Committee, a new superintendent was hired, and the teachers contract was settled. He served on the policy subcommittee, athletic subcommittee and gained extensive experience as chair of the budget sub committee. He helped to negotiate two successful contracts as part of the teachers’ bargaining unit and was the liaison to the middle school. Martucci currently has two nieces and two nephews that attend Winthrop Public Schools and he comes from a long line of WPS graduates.

Recent school committee candidate John Lyons is also pursuing the seat. Lyons comes equipped with 22 years of public school experience, having been a Curriculum Coordinator at Westford Public Schools and recently retiring after eight years working as the director of community services at Tewksbury Public Schools. He was chairman of the Winthrop School Committee 1984 to 1987 and 1992 to 1995. Having started in the Winthrop Public School district in 1979, Lyons has a goal of finishing up his career and dedicating his time to the School Committee.

Also bring considered is Ronald Vitale, who has a history as the Girls High School softball coach and a parent volunteer. Vitale has a daughter who is a freshman at Winthrop High School, and he hopes to give back to the schools and work hard toward their continued success. His goal is to keep Winthrop schools moving in a positive direction.

The mother of two Winthrop students, Shauna Hodge-Barnett has submitted her letter of interest for the open seat, and is no stranger to the district, having volunteered at several educational events. She has also played a major role in getting assistance for low-income families for the holiday season and she is an active volunteer at the Winthrop Food Pantry. Hodge-Barnett has a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis (ABA) and over 20 years experience in special education and as a behavioral consultant. She has a broad understanding of the challenges that face both students and teachers, as she has worked with both school systems and families in need of support.

Gary Schoales, a retired teacher of 40 years, is pursuing the vacant seat, and has a variety of experience to bring to the committee. Schoales spent nine years teaching social studies in Massachusetts schools including Brookline High School, Hull High School and Arlington Public Schools. He spent 12 years overseas teaching and writing a book. Two of those years were spent teaching at the Copenhagen International School in Denmark, four years at the Anglo-American School of Moscow in the former USSR, and four years in the American School of Rome. He followed that up with two years in Vienna, Austria, studying German and writing a book. He has given several presentations on the use of active learning strategies in the classroom and has served on numerous curriculum committees during his educational career.

Suzanne Swope is a grandmother with a background in education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Ohio State University and a doctorate in education from Boston University. She spent three years working in public schools before she served on the faculty at Emerson College for 12 years.

As a tenured professor, her areas of research were focused on early childhood language development and autism. She served as the vice president for enrollment and student affairs for 10 of her years at Emerson and was the vice provost for 10 years at George Mason University. Throughout her teaching career she has overseen admissions and financial aid, which have helped link students’ school age experiences with college success. One of her grandchildren currently attends the Fort Banks Elementary School.

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