13 residents interested in three vacant spots on Amherst School Committee; interviews set for Tuesday

  • AP AP

Staff Writer
Published: 9/24/2023 3:55:41 PM

AMHERST — Thirteen residents, including retired educators, parents of current public school students, former School Committee members and candidates who will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot, are seeking appointment to the three vacancies on the Amherst School Committee through the remainder of the calendar year.

The Town Council and remaining two School Committee members, Irv Rhodes and Jennifer Shiao, will begin interviewing those who have applied to serve during a joint meeting that starts Tuesday at 6 p.m. and would continue Oct. 2 at the same time, if necessary.

Those appointed, needing a majority of the 15 votes from the councilors and school committee members, are expected to be part of both the Amherst School Committee and nine-member Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee at the outset of the hiring process for a new superintendent, to replace Michael Morris who left at the end of August, and the beginning of the fiscal year 2025 budget process.

Alphabetically, those who submitted statements of interest are:

Andrew Churchill of Pine Street, a former member and chairman of the School Committee who also chaired the town’s Charter Commission. Churchill worked professionally as assistant director of the University of Massachusetts Center for Education Policy;

Amy Cronin DiCaprio of Dennis Drive, a parent of children currently in the schools. Dicaprio serves as coordinator for the Strategic Planning Initiative for Families and Youth Coalition, overseeing the Regional School Health Task Force, and previously was on the leadership team at Safe Passage;

Hugh Friel of Tracy Circle, a 45-year resident, a former Town Meeting member in the 1980s and a six-year math teacher. Friel retired following 30 years working in information technology at UMass;

Laura Jane Hunter of Blackberry Lane, a parent of children currently in the schools. Hunter works as a licensed clinical social worker has a master’s degree in public health;

Bridget Hynes of Pine Grove, a parent of a child currently in the schools. Hynes is a director of a higher education equity and access organization that works to build college success for students from underresourced Springfield high schools;

Katie Lazdowski of Overlook Drive, a parent of a child currently in the schools. This past year, Lazdowski was a consultant at the high school as part of the Restorative Justice program, exploring youth participatory action research as a means to examine and address their identified issues of school culture and climate in the school;

Sarah A. Marshall of Eames Avenue, a high school science teacher for five years in California who has served on the town’s Recreation Commission, the Community Preservation Act Committee, and the Zoning Board of Appeals, and previously volunteered in school activities when her child was a student;

Vincent J. O’Connor of Summer Street, a longtime Town Meeting member who has also served on several town committees. O’Connor brings experience with the schools from his public service and knowledge based on his work on behalf of a number of children over the past 18 years;

Richard T. Roznoy of Strong Street, a former teacher in Michigan who spent almost 30 years as an attorney in the region. Roznoy served on the town’s Planning Board for nine years.

Gaylord Saulsberry of Cottage Street, a former high school teacher and principal who has spent 55 years in education in a variety of settings, including Amherst, Newton and Lexington;

Kerry Spitzer of Berkshire Terrace, a parent of children currently in the schools and a former School Committee member who served two terms through December 2021. Spitzer is a research manager at the UMass Donahue Institute;

Roger Wallace of Jenks Street, a former teacher at Fort River Elementary school from 1974 through 2012 who is often asked back to speak to teachers and to tell stories in classrooms;

Gabriela Cornejo Weaver of Concord Way, a parent of children currently in the schools who has volunteered as a poll worker and at the Amherst Survival Center. Weaver is faculty member in chemistry at UMass and served as director at the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Of those who are seeking appointment to the School Committee, those also on the ballot are Marshall, Hynes and Hunter.


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