Shrewsbury Candidate Statement – School Committee – Rachel Sharifipour


Shrewsbury Candidate Statement – School Committee – Rachel Sharifipour
Rachel Sharifipour

Please provide a brief biographical background on yourself. What should voters know about you?

Growing up locally in Westborough, my husband, Justin, and I moved to Shrewsbury in 2015. We have three daughters: our eldest attends Sherwood Middle School, while our two youngest attend Beal Elementary. I am an active volunteer in our community, with a focus on our schools. Currently, I am the President of the Beal PTO, having previously been both the Secretary and Co-President of the Paton PTO, as well as the Treasurer and President of Parker Road PTO. In 2021, I served as a Volunteer Organizing Lead in the effort to secure a successful operational override to meet our town’s educational and municipal needs. I earned my BA in History from UMass, Amherst and my MA in History from Boston College. Professionally, I have worked in healthcare since 2012 in Practice Management. In this role, I have overseen a number of ambulatory outpatient clinics, managing departmental budgets, negotiating physician contracts, supervising employees day-to-day duties, as well as work with and listen to patients and their families on a variety of issues.

Why are you running?

I am running for School Committee because I care deeply about SPS as a parent, a volunteer, and a resident of our town.

  •  Every student deserves an equal opportunity to the high-quality education SPS has to offer. We must ensure that every child be given the chance to succeed and work together to eliminate inequities in student performance as well as ensure that the mental and emotional health needs of our students are met;
  • I am committed to pursuing vocational opportunities for students. With the loss of access to Assabet it is vital that all students have access to the education that will best help them achieve their highest potential;
  •  We must be able to balance the needs of our schools with a fiscal responsibility owed to the taxpayers;
  •  Our students cannot thrive unless the staff of our schools are supported to the fullest extent possible. Our collective success is dependent on their ability to educate and have access to the tools, professional development and healthy work-life balance.

In both the short- and long-term, what should the schools do to address the growing need for technical education?

The loss of seats at Assabet for our students makes the need for tech education in Shrewsbury even more pressing. I will be a strong advocate to further our current partnerships with area businesses/colleges and to foster new relationships to provide for job shadowing, internships and skills training.

Our district has proactively been exploring Innovation Pathways, to give students the coursework, experience and opportunities they would receive attending a tech school but within a more traditional high school. We also have Project Lead the Way in our curriculum—with a recommendation for FY24 to expand with the addition of more resources. The end goal should be to create courses within our school that lead to more opportunities, and in turn, develop a robust program of study.

In the long term, we need to rally together to advocate for our students by working with state partners for more funding. We will be unable to replicate the technical school model but we can mitigate it by enhancing and improving upon our current offerings.

After more than two years, COVID-19 has started to recede. How do you believe the schools are handling the impact from the pandemic – mental health, MCAS scores, etc.?

Nation wide, there has been learning loss. No one will argue that students are behind where they would have been had the pandemic not happened. In a very short window, we had to completely reconfigure how students learned and how staff taught. Our school system is recovering, but with dedicated personnel, our vast learning tools and resources, we have position ourselves well to recover academically.

The youth mental health crisis existed even before the pandemic. COVID-19, and the social isolation that came along with it, exacerbated the emotional and mental health challenges felt by our students and staff. With the passing of the May 2021 override, our district made a very necessary and significant investment by adding tremendous resources and personnel to help combat this problem. SPS mental health services has been able to better identify and support students—ensuring they feel safe and supported.

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