Mary Lou Osborne, former chairperson of the Winthrop School Committee, has stepped down after serving on the committee for seven years. She was first elected to a three-year term on the committee in May, 2004. When Winthrop changed its form of government in 2007, she was re-elected to a four-year term, and also served as vice chairman of the committee before becoming chairman in the summer of 2010.
Why did you decide to retire, why now?
I was first elected to the School Committee in 2004. When I ran for re-election in 2007, I promised my family that I would just commit to this second term and then give others a chance to serve. Serving as an elected official requires sacrifice on the part of one’s family. There are lots of missed dinners and juggling of schedules. So I made an announcement that I would not run for re-election this past summer, so others might decide to run for seat on the committee.
How have things changed since you were first elected?
When I decided to run for School Committee, both our Middle School and High School libraries were closed due to budget problems. As a longtime volunteer for one of our elementary school libraries, I was concerned that our students would not have the benefit of school libraries and librarians. The school year after I was elected, thanks to a concerted effort by the administration and School Committee, the libraries were reopened and library media specialists have staffed these ever since.
What does the future of the schools look like?
The Winthrop Public Schools are in good hands, with enthusiastic and innovative administrators, led by Superintendent Macero as management and dedicated School Committee members in charge of governance. When management and governance establish and work together on common goals, our students and the citizens of Winthrop as a whole benefit.
If your life were a book, what would the next chapter be about?
I will always be an advocate for the Winthrop Public Schools and the Community of Winthrop. I will still be serving on the School Building Assistance Committee as we explore the options for the high school and middle school. Hopefully, I can serve as a mentor to other School Committee members as former School Committee members have mentored me. Getting back to being more involved in other community groups to which I belong (Medical Reserve Corps, CASA) would be enjoyable. I also look forward to exploring some new job opportunities in the near future. And I especially look forward to spending more evenings at home with my family.
What are your fondest memories of being on the Committee?
Some of my fondest memories are of the looks of satisfaction and accomplishment on the faces of our students at graduation. Attending school related functions were important to me to be able to relate to our staff and students, especially after my own children had grown.
Some things you could have done without?
My least favorite aspects of the job were late nights and long meetings. I’m more of a morning person.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments?
There are no singular accomplishments on a School Committee, only group ones. I do know that I tried my hardest to be prepared to address the issues before us and gave myself a chance to learn from my colleagues before casting votes. I hope that I was able to serve others as a person who had the time and inclination to stay abreast of educational trends and regulations and to support the administration of the schools in its role as management of the schools. Hopefully, I was able to influence others to run for a spot of the School Committee and join a long list of stewards for the public schools. In my last year and a half as chair of the committee, I hope that I was able to provide some stability during some turbulent times.
Things you wish could have been changed?
I do wish that we could provide our students with opportunities both in classroom and out of the classroom that wouldn’t require fees. I’m always concerned that some students will lose an opportunity to participate because of fees.
Any last words?
I wish to thank former and present School Committee members for their service and the dedicated educators and district employees who help to teach, nurture and support our young people on a daily basis as we work together in readying them for their places in the world. I also wish to thank the voters for allowing me to serve for two terms on the committee and extend heartfelt thanks to my family and friends who have supported me during my tenure. I offer best wishes to those who continue to serve on the committee and newly elected members taking office in January.