WESTFORD — WestfordCAT reached out to the five candidates running for two open School Committee seats in the May 3 Westford municipal elections. Candidates were asked the same outline of questions, and were free to share their replies during an interview with WestfordCAT.
School Committee hopeful Betsy Kwon spoke with WestfordCAT, outlining her background, experience and aspirations if elected to the committee.
Experience and Education
She has professional experience in law firm administration. She has worked in the field for over 20 years, currently working as the Senior Director of Administration of the Boston Office of a national law firm.
She received a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance while working full-time in the Executive Program at Suffolk University.
Past/Present Municipal Experience
N/A, but she noted she worked for the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department in the Civil Process Division as a deputy sheriff.
Volunteer participation, community involvement
She previously volunteered within Westford Public Schools when her daughters were younger. She noted that as she raises her kids in Westford, she’s “working on the next generation of volunteers.”
She previously volunteered at a crisis center for survivors of assault and domestic abuse in Greater Lowell.
What should voters know about you?
“I am an optimist and a glass is half full kind of person. I try to take all my experiences and learn from them,” she said. “I like opposing viewpoints from my own because that’s what helps us to improve. Calculated risks with buy-in are appropriate at the right time.”
She continued, “I am as transparent as I am able to be without violating any legal or ethical guidelines,” she said. “I consider all viewpoints, try to gain consensus and make recommendations accordingly. We may not all agree, but if people feel they have ownership in the process then the outcome is much better.”
Why do you believe voters should choose you?
“I have a new perspective in addition to the foundation we already have,” she said. “Sometimes decisions on certain topics are made on the margin and I’m very comfortable in conflict resolution among key stakeholders.”
She further affirmed her commitment to communication if elected.
“Communication is very important to me. I would rather over-communicate than under communicate,” she said.
She continued, “I think we need to rebuild trust and partnerships with the community, school administration and the board by creating forums and safe spaces for community members to speak what’s on their mind, and I think our town is heading in the right direction on that.”
If elected, what impact do you hope to make?
“When I think about what we’ve been through and how we move forward to make up for lost time, we need to create opportunities that may not have existed before,” she said. “We should look at student support services that may have not been available, perhaps partnering with local universities.”
She outlined her preferred curricula, as well as expressed support for community service opportunities for students.
“I’d like to see the return to a foundation focused on education such as STEM, ELA, civics, arts and foreign languages, along with age and content appropriate curricula with opt-ins or outs for parents,” she said.
She continued, “We should look at what student support systems can be available, perhaps partnering with local universities or colleges to fill these needs. Taking a look at local businesses for job shadowing or community service opportunities for students.”
She also outlined her hopes for addressing budgetary concerns within the district.
“The budget is probably the largest responsibility of the school committee, we have decreased student enrollment and we’ll need to optimize budgetary resources,” she said.
She continued, “we should look at our space across the district and make sure we’re best utilizing it. We have a financial responsibility to the taxpayers and we need to operate as a partnership with the greater community, committees and administration.”
Kwon also spoke on mental health within the district, and how she plans to address ongoing concerns among community members. 03
“I think that each and every age group has been affected in some way, shape or form over the last two years and have missed milestones,” she said. We need to support our students and take into consideration what they have been through and be mindful as we are making short and long term decisions on the school committee.”
Speaking on diversity, equity and inclusion, she noted that “we have a lot of hard work to do in the areas of school civility, developing empathy and resilience and learning from our differences.”
She continued, “the school community should be the hallmark of mutual respect and equality, where every student feels comfortable and valued,” she said. “We should continue to focus on creating an environment that fosters growth, while focusing on talents, merits and character of each student. And oftentimes that means thinking outside the box and taking the individual student into consideration.”
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