The Owl and the Candidates: Getting to Know the School Committee Candidates

More than 125 people attended the League of Women Voter’s Candidates Night zoom last night, which was an impressive showing. Controversy was at an all-time low, and kindness and collaboration seemed to be the theme of the night. The Owl would like to expand the Board of Health, for one, to elect all three candidates. Alas…

And now, for the just-for-fun getting to know the candidates for School Committee, the Owl reached out to the three candidates and all three responded. As stated in the Select Board candidate post, all readers are reminded that these are volunteer positions for the town of Weston, require an amazing amount of time and untold stress, and that even if you do not like or plan to vote for a candidate, they all deserve respect and appreciation for being willing to serve.

The three candidates for School Committee are Attia Linnard, Tricia Liu and Ken Newberg. You can read their formal candidate statements in the Weston Crier which the Owl has linked here: Linnard, Liu, Newberg. Please note that photos for this post were chosen by the candidates.

Attia Linnard (center) in an undated photo with students at Chang’an School where she taught geography

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What do you love most about Weston’s public school system?

Linnard: The smaller classes especially at the elementary level and the school traditions

Liu: Enthusiastic and talented teachers and staff in our school systems, supported by equally enthusiastic and talented parents.

Newberg: I love the teachers. We have had an outstanding experience with the teachers. They care. They love their craft. They excel at what they do. While everyone’s experience differs, the consensus I found from talking to students and other parents is that Weston’s teachers are simply top-notch.

What would love to see change either immediately, or over time?

Linnard: I’d like to see more robust writing curriculum and more writing opportunities at the MS specifically. We have some outstanding expert teaching in our schools and I’d like to see that become more ubiquitous and consistent across schools and grades. I’d like to have more of our students included in their education in terms of input. 

Liu: To change immediately: More lunch per lunch order. Less screen time for the in-person school (as exactly phrased by a bunch of car-pool kids this afternoon.) To change over time: Look outside of Weston. Look out just a little bit further, to Boston– 126 AI companies, 52 Robotics companies, and all the top surgical robotics companies are just 10 miles away. Tens of trillions of economic dollars in the next decade are in the making right here! If our kids are left out by this, not prepared to be the movers and shakers of this era, we’d owe them a huge debt! We need to prepare our kids to be active in this economy.

Newberg: Improved, more consistent communication and information sharing. Even before the pandemic, many people found the communication from the schools and the district to families and students inconsistent. I would love for information to be shared in an easily accessible, centralized electronic resource for each school which would contain both school specific and district wide communications. As for policy changes, in the very near term, I would love to see greater public deliberations among school committee members with greater input from the community. To the greatest extent it can be avoided, community members should not be surprised by significant sudden policy changes (for example, junior parking) because these policies should be openly developed and widely communicated before being rolled out.

Tricia Liu (R) with family at her daughter’s Weston High School graduation

Tell us about your kids (if you want to).

Linnard: I have an 11th grader and a 7th grader, both in the public schools.

Liu: [has a Weston High School graduate and a 10th grader] They are so funny in their own ways. No matter how tough the day went, the kids never failed to make us laugh at the dinner.

Newberg: We have amazing, energetic, and adventurous first-grade twins. Katherine loves animals, to move, and Minecraft. Emma loves fashion, shoes, and gymnastics. Neither of them likes SeeSaw (the remote learning platform for the little kids).

What was your favorite subject or who was your favorite teacher in school?

Linnard: My favorite subject was history and ceramics (art). One of the things that I wish I was is a talented artist. I’m not but I love making art. In hindsight, I wish I had been encouraged to pursue this not because any profession would’ve come of it, but because it brings me joy and I just wish I had more opportunities in school as a kid.

Liu: My favorite teacher was a math teacher who was very loud, speaking only the local dialect that “intellectual’s kids” couldn’t understand. Her teaching was very physical, deducing the algebra or pre-cal solutions on the blackboard, sounding out her question of “then what?!”, along the sound of chalk squeaking over the blackboard. 

Newberg: At various times, I’ve loved many different subjects. In high school, I loved chemistry and U.S. History and my favorite teacher was Mr. Gage who taught English (despite me not being a huge fan of the subject). In college, I loved neuroscience and logic. Later, in law school, I would gravitate toward federal courts and constitutional law. 

Ken Newberg (L) with family and Beast

What do you like to do in your free time? 

Linnard: Read and watch documentaries (my kids and their friends tease me… the last doc I watched is My Octopus Friend. It’s beautiful and heart-wrenching at times. I also LOVE TO TRAVEL. And coach.

Liu: Anything that sets me free. The great outdoors. Running, swimming, skiing, hiking with the family and our dog, whatever the weather offers.

Newberg: I spend my free time with my family, serving on Town committees, and indulge in pickleball with my Weston friends each week.

What is Weston’s superpower?

Linnard: We have a few. But I think there are so many genuinely good and kind people in this town who care about one another and contribute in so many ways. 

Liu: Volunteers!

Newberg: Its citizens. Weston is full of a vast array of brilliant, extraordinary citizens who excel at their chosen pursuits and are by and large willing to lend these talents to the Town. I fully support the Town and School District taking full advantage of these brilliant minds.

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