SCHOOL COMMITTEE CANDIDATES

PHOEBE MERRIAM 
Phoebe, who is a local realtor, serves on the Amherst Elementary School Building Committee which is now working with the state on new school building plans. She is a former member of the School Equity Task Force. 

Phoebe grew up in Amherst and attended Crocker Farm, the Middle School (then the Junior High School) and graduated from Amherst Regional High School. She is now a mother of three children, including one at each of those schools. 

As a lifelong resident, Phoebe is aware of the School Committee’s important role in setting policies and procedures. She believes it is the Committee’s responsibility to support administrative steps to “ensure each and every child that goes through the system gets the very best opportunity at success, no matter what that means for the individual child.”

This goal requires broad public input and participation. “Amherst needs to do a better job when it comes to actively soliciting different ideas, strategies and voices from people who historically haven’t felt they could have their voices heard, or didn’t know how to. I want to work together to bring success to the children of the Amherst school system, and in order to do that, we must start with a diverse School Committee,” she said. https://www.facebook.com/PhoebeforSchoolCommittee/ 

                                                                                                        JENNIFER PAGE

Jennifer, who does marketing and communications for the UMass College of Information Sciences, is a former co-president of the Amherst Education Foundation. Now secretary of the UMass Amherst Professional Staff Union, Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Tufts University. She has lived in Amherst for 13 years.

The parent of an Amherst Regional Middle School student, Jennifer  envisions a school district that is  committed to supporting every student in reaching their potential.

“I will ask hard questions, and I will speak up about what is being omitted or ignored,” Jennifer said, adding that she will seek out and respect those who raise concerns about decisions that need to be made. 

Jennifer said the School Committee needs to proactively engage with families to learn about their needs, and she will advocate for regular outreach events throughout the community.

An important upcoming task will be addressing concerns about plans to move all Amherst 6th graders to the Middle School. “These concerns are legitimate and important, and need to be addressed in a collaborative way between the administration, school staff, and families,” she said. 

Jennifer, a daughter of immigrants, said she is on a “journey of awareness” about her identity as an Asian woman, a non-Black person of color, and a non-white person who nonetheless benefits from white privilege. “I am firmly committed to looking at all issues with an equity lens. This includes things like noticing when a board or committee includes no or few non-white people … (and) making an event more accessible for attendees who speak other languages,” she said. 

In the long term,Jennifer said, Amherst has  the challenge of several school buildings that are old and in need of significant repairs. Estimates are needed, and the projects need to be prioritized with the input of staff and families.. https://www.jenniferpageamherst.com/

BEN HERRINGTON

Ben,  who is assistant facilities director for the Amherst Public Schools and an incumbent School Committee member, also chairs the Amherst Human Rights Commission. A veteran of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 10th Mountain Division, Ben serves on the School Equity Task Force and was a member of Town Meeting. He is the single father of a 7th grader at Amherst Regional Middle School. 

Ben participated in the Fort River School Building Committee feasibility study and served as the District Representative on the Crocker Farm feasibility study.

“I am running for re-election to the School Committee because I believe in our school system, and in our potential to continually improve and grow as a learning community. I value the ability to work together to find solutions that benefit our students, our staff and Amherst as a whole,” he said. Ben said that collaboration breeds progress far more effectively than divisive discourse, and that he will continue working to find solutions that incorporate a broad swath of viewpoints.. “Even in disagreement, we need to be civil and aware of the behaviors we are modelling for our children. I … promise to continue to serve with honor and with respect to my colleagues, our educators and staff, our community, and to the students who benefit from our exemplary schools,” he said. https://benjaminherrington.com/