Q&A: Greenfield School Committee candidate Kathryn Lynn Martini


Published: 10/28/2021 4:42:40 PM

Editor’s note: This questionnaire was completed by Kathryn Lynn Martini, one of five candidates on the ballot for three School Committee seats with four-year terms in the Nov. 2 election. (Martini is running as part of a slate of candidates with Glenn Johnson-Mussad and Elizabeth Ann Deneeve.)

Work experience (past/present): I have been a social worker for the past 10 years. Prior to that I worked in elder protective services for Franklin County Home Care (now LifePath), as an outreach worker for the Community Support Program, and as a job coach and residential caregiver for adults with developmental disabilities.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in sociology and women’s studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Political experience: I have never run for office. I previously served as chair of the Special Education Parent Advisory Council at my child’s former school.

How long have you lived in Greenfield? 15 years.

What qualities would you bring to the School Committee? I believe in transparency, equity and respect. I want the School Committee to actively seek out community input, center equity in its decisions, and be respectful between elected members as well as with the public. As a parent, I am also a passionate advocate for literacy and am devoted to doing everything I can to help our schools improve student outcomes. As a union worker and coming from a family of teachers, I am committed to giving our teachers the respect and resources they need to be successful. Because of these values, I am proud to have been endorsed by the Western Mass Area Labor Federation, the SEIU Local 509, Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution and Decoding Dyslexia Massachusetts.

Which subcommittees would you be interested in serving on and why? I am interested in serving on the Policy and Program Subcommittee because policy is how we put our values into action. I am also interested in serving on the Budget and Finance Subcommittee because I’d like to help make sure the way we are spending is forward-thinking and reflects meaningful priorities. I am interested in serving on the Racial Justice Advisory Subcommittee as well because I want to make sure we put words into action to ensure students of color are safe, supported and thriving.

What are the biggest challenges facing Greenfield’s public schools, and how would you aim to address them?

Our district has a load of challenges, but one thing I want Greenfield to really face up to is our literacy problem. It’s not that our town is worse off than much of the rest of the nation; it’s that our students are suffering from the same need for investment in high-quality structured literacy curriculum and advanced professional development in how to deliver the five essential components of reading instruction established by the National Reading Panel more than 20 years ago. Right now we are only getting about one-third of our students to read and write proficiently — a tragedy because the ability to read is one of the strongest predictors of just about every life outcome. Students who struggle to learn to read begin to suffer anxiety, depression and low self-esteem — issues that can quickly spiral into behavioral problems in middle and high school, something particularly acute right now. Many of these students give up on school (and themselves) and drop out. Is it any surprise that 70% of prison inmates cannot read at a fourth-grade level? And all of these consequences fall most heavily on students of color, economically disadvantaged and disabled students. Truly, any serious discussion about equity must prioritize literacy as the foundational and far-reaching factor it is. I aim to address this by supporting the development and implementation of a comprehensive and deeply thought-out literacy plan.

In the meantime, our students and teachers are struggling with the fallout of the pandemic on top of everything else and need our help more immediately. I aim to address this by supporting real resources for social-emotional supports, restorative justice practices and practical help for families.

How would you balance economic constraints with providing quality programming for students?

A teacher touches the lives of thousands of students over their career. Giving our teachers the tools, training and support they need to be successful has to be a top priority. We have to be willing to make a whole-hearted investment in this, especially when it comes to literacy, and recognize that the cost of not doing so is much greater in the long run. To balance this, I would look to ensure we take advantage of every opportunity, within our local finances, state and federal funds, and the grants that no school can do without in the present day.


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