Three School Committee Candidates Compete for Last Remaining Position

By Kate Anslinger

Three candidates are vying for the one remaining position on the School Committee, and all three have resumes packed with educational experience and notable qualifications. The seat is open due to former School Committee member Ron Vecchia becoming the Town Council president. In his new role, Vecchia will still serve on the School Committee.

“We are very fortunate to have three highly motivated and qualified candidates,” said Chair of the School Committee, Valentino Capobianco.

The candidates are as follow:

Shauna Hodge-Barnett, mother of two Winthrop students, has submitted her letter of interest for the open position, 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 affect both students and teachers, as she has worked with school systems and families in need of support.

Suzanne Swope is a grandmother with an educational background. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Ohio State University and her 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 Fort Banks.

Samantha Bracy has recently submitted her letter of interest, adding to the competition of the sought after School Committee position. Having grown up in Winthrop and worked in the school district as a special education teacher for five years, Bracy is well versed in the inner workings of an academic setting. After graduating from Winthrop High School, Bracy attained her undergraduate degree in psychology and education from Northeastern University, and went on to earn her MA in special education. Compelled to specialize even more, Bracy earned her certificate for advanced graduate study as a reading specialist. She has 10 years experience in special education work on her resume, five of which were spent in the Winthrop Public Schools and five at an elementary school in Newton, where she is now employed. Bracy has always been interested in pursuing a position on the School Committee, and the mother of three believes that professional development is key to bettering a district.

The final decision will be made on Feb. 6 during a joint meeting of the School Committee and Town Council at 6:30 p.m. in the Harvey Hearing room.

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