Friday, August 26, 2011

School Committee 2011 - Charlie Gallo

I asked each of the candidates 3 questions. Here is the response from Charlie Gallo.  To see more on this series, please visit the Lynn, MA School Committee 2011 Series.

- Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? What on your resume or in your life experience makes you qualified for this office?

Thank you for the opportunity to say a few words.

I graduated from Suffolk Law School in 2009, which I attended at night while working during the day. In 2005, I became the first member of my family to graduate from college, earning my Bachelors Degree from Suffolk University. In 2001, I earned my diploma from St. Mary’s High School, which I attended on both need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships. I also attended Pickering Middle School, Sisson Elementary School, and Sacred Heart, all in Lynn. I am a fourth generation Lynn resident, and became a homeowner last year.

I work as an attorney, and will use my legal training to be an advocate for the Lynn Public Schools. School Committee members can be advocates in several ways – including for funding from city and state sources, but also for the students themselves. We must publicize the good that comes out of our schools, essentially advocating for our students’ reputation as they prepare for life beyond the classroom. I’ve already started to do this in a small way by posting positive newspaper stories about our students on the Charlie Gallo for Lynn School Committee Facebook page.

My candidacy is unique in that I am the only candidate who currently teaches. My course in State and Local Government meets at North Shore Community College one night per week. While I do not equate my teaching experience with those who teach at elementary or secondary school on a daily basis, I do believe that my background as a community college instructor will provide a practical basis for some of the decision-making and debate on the School Committee.

- Why did you choose to run for School Committee?

I am running for the School Committee because education has always been important to me. Our students deserve a quality education, and the future of our city requires that they receive one.

In addition to my background as an attorney and community college instructor (explained above), I offer a unique candidacy in light of my age. At 28 years old, I am the only candidate under the age of 40.

We have great history in Lynn. It is important to honor our past, as well as respect, learn from, and work with those who have spent all or much of their lives here. Still, we must recognize that one of the big problems that Lynn faces is that younger people are moving out faster than they are moving in. Many feel that they do not have an opportunity to have their voice heard, and they move out in their 20s and 30s. I am pleased to see a reversal of that trend in Downtown Lynn, for example, where many younger people are actually moving into the city and making a positive impact on the community. I want to build on that progress.

If elected, I will be in a position to lead by example, showing that there is an opportunity for younger residents to give back to the community and to our most important asset: the public schools, which will shape the future of our city.

- What do you see that is in most need of change? How will you change it?

One of the changes that I have been advocating for is to televise School Committee meetings. I understand that doing so may now be in the works. I applaud Lynn Happens for posting some of the recent meetings online, but recognize that many people are without high speed internet or even a computer. Many people cannot attend meetings because of transportation issues, work schedules, or family commitments. For these and all people in Lynn, School Committee meetings must be televised.

Televising meetings is important in and of itself, but really is about the bigger issue of open and honest government. This extends to being accessible to the public. If elected, I will return phone calls, respond to emails, and be available to meet face to face with parents and community members, so that they are able to be a meaningful part of the process.

Another change is to bring some creative and new approaches to the table, as we work towards the betterment of our schools. One area is funding, especially in tough economic times. Specifically, we should increase our investment in grant writing as a means to having smaller class sizes, more teachers, and improvements to the school buildings. Another is by teaming up with local businesses and nonprofits, to prepare our students for the real world. We should use the community as a resource to help our students learn about civics, personal finance, the arts, trades, and life skills that too often fall outside of the formal curriculum.

Lastly, I welcome input from the readers of this blog. Please feel free to email or call me at 781-592-9498 with your ideas, questions, comments, and concerns. I also invite you to check out or find Charlie Gallo for Lynn School Committee on Facebook. Thank you for your time in reading this post, and for your consideration of me for one of your votes for the Lynn School Committee.

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