Biography & Background Experience
- Current Employment: Controllers Assistant at Brown Brothers Harriman (LinkedIn)
- Spouse & Children: Married to William Spadafora. They have three children. “Jennifer’s oldest son, Gino, is currently in the 5th grade at the Beebe K-8 School, while her youngest son, Angelo, attends 4th grade at an out-of-district therapeutic day school for children with learning difficulties. Her oldest child and only daughter René, is a graduate of Malden High School’s class of 2017. René is in her 2nd year enlisted in the United States Coast Guard, stationed in Fort Pierce, Florida” (About).
- Volunteer: “Jennifer is a member of COPAA (Council of Parents Attorneys and Advocates) and served on the Beebe School Council from 2016-2018. She is currently the school committee liaison to the Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council” (About).
- Skills: “With 1 child that has already navigated K-12 in MPS, another currently in 6th grade and my youngest attending a special needs school out-of-district, I think I have seen and experienced almost every inch and corner of our district. Additionally, my work in finance over the past 15 years allows me to look at one of the most important items school committee members handle: our budget” (MVQ).
Policies & Experiences
- Biggest issues: Special needs students, supporting teachers, and food insecurity
- Motivation for Running: “Having spent the past 2 years in this position, I realized my job was not yet done. I initially decided to run for school committee over 2 years ago because I was tired of seeing policies looked over. As a special needs parent, I had sat in numerous IEP meetings wondering, if I was experiencing difficulties, there had to be others. I decided it was time to speak up and be a voice for not only special needs students but all students and their parents/guardians that may have been experiencing difficulties navigating our school system” (MVQ).
- Community: “Every single meeting should be live streamed and scheduled after 6 pm to accommodate working families. We should be posting notices in multiple languages and utilizing our ConnectEd system for district wide announcements of school committee meetings in the languages spoken by the families in our school. We could also offer child care for those wishing to attend” (MVQ).
- Roosevelt Park: “I personally would like to see natural grass at Roosevelt field however, it’s my understanding that with natural grass, we would still have drainage issues due to it being in a low lying area. With that being said, there are alternatives to crumb rubber turf such as organic infills like coconut fibers and cork that I think should be taken into consideration … The Salemwood school community also needs to have input in such an important decision which I believe has not been taken into consideration” (MNN 5/29/19).
- Budget: “With the proper funding, I’d like to prioritize our arts and music. Studies have shown that exposure to arts promotes self directed learning, improve attendance and sharpens critical and creative skills” (MVQ).
- Bullying: “Malden Public Schools has a strict Anti Bullying Policy in place but this policy does us no good if it is not taught or enforced properly. As a school committee member, I would like to see diversity and sensitivity training offered to our educators” (2017 ORM).
- Charter Schools:”On average, local taxpayers fund about 60 percent of the cost of education, and Chapter 70 makes up the remaining 40 percent. In order to fund their school budgets, cities and towns make difficult choices, often cutting municipal services and raising additional property taxes. However, charter schools automatically receive equal amounts of funding, without having to explain how they plan to spend the money or even worry about where the money will come from. Charters have also increased segregation by removing higher performing students from their neighborhood schools, while leaving behind students with disabilities, students who are English-language learners and students who need support in managing their behavior” (2017 ORM).
- Class size: “With newcomers choosing Malden and not having the ability to build more schools, we can focus on getting more classroom aids. Providing a teacher with an aide can help decrease the burden on teachers” (FB – Issues).
- Disabled Students: “With a background in finance and special needs rights, Jennifer will continue to work to ensure the children across the City of Malden have a voice” (About).
- Diverse staffing: “We need more educators that reflect our student body. We need to reach outside of Massachusetts to colleges and universities that educated POC and minorities and offer incentives to teach in the most diverse city in Massachusetts” (FB 8/15/19).
- Future Teachers: “We also need to figure out how we can offer incentives to our minority students, that decide to become educator, to bring them back to Malden when they are ready to start their careers” (MVQ).
- Health & Safety: With Adam Weldai, plans to pursue free breakfast & lunch at Malden Schools. (FB 10/2/19). “Our health classes in high school should focus and educate on sex-ed, not just for heterosexuals” (2017 ORM).
- LGBTQ Students “Gay-straight alliances can serve as important resources for students and as supportive spaces to counteract bullying and institutional silence about issues of importance to them” (2017 ORM).
- Parental Engagement: “We need to focus on having our school “robo calls” sent out in numerous languages as well as our school flyers. In addition, I’d like to see our School Committee meetings translated into these languages as well. How can we expect parents to be active in our children’s education if we can’t communicate with them” (2017 ORM).
- Recess “As we push to increase recess in our schools, we still hear from parents and students that recess is being taken away as punishment. This is unacceptable. I think we need to look at the policies that are put in place and demand that the Superintendent and those that report into him follow them” (MVQ).
- Social/Emotional Learning: “When we turn on the television, we are bombarded with news stories of bullying, racism and social inequality. We have an obligation to our youth to ensure we are providing the necessary guidance and counseling within our schools to support the future of all mankind” (Issues).
- Student Diversity: “Having such a diverse student population, I believe we need to support them by being visible and speaking up for their needs. Whether it’s the hiring of minority educators, to advocating for our LGBTQ+ youth, to training educators to support each and every student regardless of race, culture, sexual orientation or gender identification” (MVQ).
- Vocational training: “A few steps we can take to address income inequality is to make our education system more inclusive by investing in vocational schools where people of all ages and backgrounds can learn marketable skills, as well as ensure high-quality, affordable housing for all in safe, healthy neighborhoods” (2017 ORM).
- Wages:“I am a big proponent for the Fight for $15 … I will actively fight for Paid Family Leave, the quality of low-wage jobs, and ensure that all public school students are nurtured, engaged, and prepared. I will stress the need for well-balanced evaluation of students, teachers, and schools, rather than relying on low-quality, high-stakes tests” (2017 ORM).
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